K-State senior Shane Conlon steps up to bat in the Wildcats' 3-2 win over Iowa on Friday, March 7 in Tointon Family Stadium.
March 10, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
The K-State baseball team put on a show this weekend as it swept a three-game series from Iowa (9-4) and evened its record at 7-7 after starting the year 1-7.
Wildcat fans showed up in full force to cheer on the reigning Big 12 Champions as Friday's home-opening crowd of 3,090 marked the second-largest Opening Day crowd in Wildcat history, while 8,261 fans packed the park during the three-game set.
"Today was beautiful; it was a good, good crowd," head coach Brad Hill said following the series finale. "I appreciate the fans coming out - it helps so much to feed off the fans and the atmosphere that they create. The guys feel that, I promise you."
An exciting way to cap off the series, yesterday afternoon saw K-State rally to defeat the Hawkeyes, 12-8, despite trailing by five runs going into the sixth inning.
"After the fifth inning, our guys got back into it and began to piece it together," said Hill. "We didn't try to do too much at once, because when you are down four or five runs, you are going to need some help with an error, a couple walks or getting hit by a pitch. You just need a couple things like that to get back in to it, and we finally did that."
In the bottom of the sixth, K-State scored four runs on four hits to trail the Hawkeyes by one, while, in the seventh inning, the Wildcats' three runs on four hits gave K-State the lead for good.
Despite its shaky beginning on offense, the team's hitting became contagious, and once K-State had the lead, it didn't back down. An eighth inning of three runs on just one hit - and three hit by pitches, an error and sacrifice fly - was enough to put the game away and complete the series sweep.
"We had some big time at-bats after the sixth inning - (Tanner) DeVinny, Mitch Meyer, R.J. (Santigate), Alex Bee - a huge, huge day for those guys," said Shane Conlon, who finished the game with one hit and one run in four at-bats.
Seven Wildcats drove in runs for K-State, while Meyer, who had two hits, drove in two runs and scored three times, and DeVinny, who had two hits and a career-high three RBI, led the team on the offense.
While Hill said during the low points of yesterday's game that his team could have easily, "laid down and put our two wins in our hip pocket," and been content with simply winning the series, it stayed poised and turned around its shaky start.
Turning around a shaky start is perhaps the theme of the season as K-State has now won six games in a row to get back to .500 on the year.
"It's kind of like we're a starting all over again, but you really can't hide the way you started," Hill said about his team's effort to turn around the 1-7 start. "All you can do is continue to move forward, keep trying to play good baseball and build off the things that took place this weekend."
Moving forward, K-State looks to continue its winning streak against Omaha on Wednesday, in a 6:30 p.m. contest at Tointon Family Stadium.
"(Playing at home) is great," Conlon said. "We love playing in front of our home crowd, and we like protecting our turf here. It's a tough place to play for other teams coming in."
Wednesday evening's game will continue a nine-game homestand and is followed by a three-game series against Northern Colorado with games on Friday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at 2 p.m., and Sunday, March 16, at 1 p.m.
For a box score of yesterday's game, click here.