K-State baseball dominates West Virginia, aims for sweep on Sunday

Courtesy: K-State Athletics

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – K-State scored its most runs in a Big 12 game since 2013 and clinched its first conference series win of the season as the Wildcats beat West Virginia, 15-2, on Saturday at Monongalia County Ballpark.

The Wildcats (16-19, 3-8 Big 12) generated 24 baserunners, with the help of 16 hits – seven extra-base hits – seven walks and a hit batsman, and scored runs in each of the first six innings to build an insurmountable lead over the Mountaineers (17-16, 4-6 Big 12).

Seven different K-State hitters had multiple hits, led by three from Josh Rolette. The freshman also drove in three runs, trailing Tyler Wolfe’s four for the game-high. The senior shortstop hit a three-run home run, the first of his career, in the first off West Virginia starting pitcher Ross Vance to give the Wildcats an early 4-0 lead.

Vance, who entered the day with a career ERA of 1.69 against the Wildcats, took the loss after he allowed seven runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings. K-State chased him from the game in the second when Rolette hit a two-out double and one of West Virginia’s four errors allowed Jake Wodtke to score on the play and make it 6-0.

“What a great approach against a guy who has given us fits for two years,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill about facing Vance, who threw a three-hit complete game against the Wildcats last season. “We almost knew what every pitch was coming. We took a lot of pitches that we have swung at against him over the last couple of years.”

K-State’s starting pitcher Levi MaVorhis, on the other hand, threw a season-high eight innings and yielded just one unearned run in his longest outing since April 2014. The right-hander never faced more than five batters in an inning and received help from his defense in the form of three double plays. The win was also his fourth of his season and 17th of his career – tying him for fifth in K-State history.

“Once Levi got in a groove, he was really good,” said Hill. “He was able to mix and hit his spots. He used his changeup and mixed in a slider when he needed to. He had great command of what he was doing all day long.”

K-State provided MaVorhis with plenty of run support, including multiple runs in five of the first six frames. The Wildcats, who hit .444 with runners in scoring position (8-for-18), tallied 16 hits for their most in a Big 12 contest since April 10, 2015 vs. No. 3 TCU (18).

In addition to Rolette and Wolfe having multi-hit games, Wodtke, Clayton Dalrymple, Tyler Moore, Quintin Crandall, and Josh Ethier each had two hits.

After Wolfe hit his three-run home run in the first, he later added his fourth RBI with a two-out double in the fourth, an inning that started with a fielding error. It was the second time this season he recorded four RBI in a game (March 16 vs. Stephen F. Austin).

Rolette, meanwhile, drove in his three runs with a groundout in the first, a single in the fourth, and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

While he had his fourth multi-hit effort in eight Big 12 games, Ethier also drew a career-high two walks to reach safely in each of his four at-bats. The junior also added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, driving in his second run of the game. He used his second hit, a single in the third, to produce the other RBI.

K-State will aim for its first sweep in conference play since 2013 when it and the Mountaineers face off in a 12 p.m. ET game. Right-hander Corey Fischer will get the start for the Wildcats and face righty B.J. Myers.

The last time K-State scored 15 runs in a Big 12 game was on April 6, 2013 vs. Texas Tech (15-2).

The Wildcats have scored 23 runs on 27 hits and 10 extra-base hits in the first two games of the series. K-State had 32 runs in its first nine Big 12 games of the season.

The Wildcats have won three straight games and four of their last six.

The series win for K-State is its first in Big 12 action since the last series of the 2015 campaign at KU.

Ten different Wildcats have hit a home run this season, the most since 2010 (11). K-State has 17 home runs total this year.

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