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An Exciting Evening for K-State Baseball
K-State baseball stands at attention with its partner unit from Fort Riley, Kan., the 2-16 Infantry Regiment, before its game against CSU Bakersfield on April 22. (Photos by Kelly McHugh)
April 23, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
With warm weather and sunny skies, last night was a beautiful night for baseball in Tointon Family Stadium.
Despite a Monday night loss, the Wildcats got back on track on Tuesday by defeating Bakersfield, 13-0.
"It's all just focus. Our guys were focused, locked in," explained K-State head coach Brad Hill after last night's game. "You could see from the whole approach, how our guys took the field tonight. You could see the body language - they were locked in and ready to play."
The action began during the bottom of the second inning where, with the bases loaded, a Max Brown triple put the Wildcats up by three.
The fourth inning was full of action for the Wildcats with Brown, Ross Kivett, Austin Fisher and Shane Conlon all recording hits to bring in three more runs.
The hitting didn't stop there, though, as a single from Kivett brought in Brown for the Wildcats solo fifth inning run and, despite back-to-back scoreless innings, K-State capped off the game with a five-run eighth.
"That's something we've been trying to work on, and we got that big hit early tonight from Max, and we've been lacking it," said Hill. "But what I like better was that we came back and scored later. That's something we've had a hard time with, too."
The Wildcats had 10 different players record hits with both Conlon and Brown leading the way with three - a career high in hits for Brown.
On the mound for the Wildcats was sophomore Jordan Witcig (1-1), who threw five innings with two strikeouts.
"He threw strikes. He's very good when he throws in the zone and gets contact," said Hill. "Tonight he did a good job with throwing a lot of strikes. Ten hits and no runs showed he made some pitches when he had to."
Last night's game marked the Wildcats' sixth shutout of the season - the most single season shutouts since 1991.
For a complete box score and game recap, click here.
Last night, K-State baseball celebrated its partnership with Ft. Riley's 2-16 Infantry Regiment during its game against Bakersfield.
"The best thing about tonight was bringing about 200 of our soldiers over here to cheer on K-State all together," explained the 2-16th's commander, LTC Eric Batchelor. "(Our soldiers) know that we're partnered with the team, and I think that's pretty important to them because they do stay involved with what is going on and with how the team is doing during the season. But when we bring the whole unit here to cheer on the team together, I think that means a lot to our soldiers to be able to come out here and do that."
From the first pitch - thrown out by the Rangers' CSM Thomas Williams - to the final inning, Tointon Family Stadium was filled with camo uniforms worn by both the Wildcats and the Ft. Riley soldiers.
"It's really special. That's been a special relationship, partnership that we've had with them for five years," said Hill, who has become friends with Batchelor through the partnership. "Those guys, what they do is awesome for us and is awesome for a lot of other people. LTC Batchelor comes out and visits with the team. They come over and watch us, whether they can come live or whether they're deployed and watching online, so if we can do something for them, that's pretty special."
Before the game began, Batchelor and Williams were presented with a K-State baseball kit to take with the unit during its upcoming deployment to Africa this summer.
"Tonight, they gave us the baseball equipment to bring to Africa, and that's just really cool," said Batchelor with a smile. "I don't think they realize how much that means to us."
The kit, though just a gift from the Wildcat baseball squad, took an entirely different meaning to Batchelor and his unit.
Last month, the Rangers Regiment traveled south to Ft. Polk, La., for training and, despite not having bats and balls of their own on the trip, the soldiers made due and played a baseball game of their own.
"Our last mission was this big city, we had to go in and basically clear it of enemy and take it over," explained Batchelor of the training mission. "Once it was over, we started getting ready to get out of there. Well this city had a baseball diamond and one of my companies was out having a baseball game on this diamond (after the mission).
"One of the guys found the perfect size tree branch, he wrapped it up with duct tape and made a tape ball. You've got 50 guys out there playing baseball on this old, crap field. So now, when we get to Africa, we don't have to make a tape ball, so that was just really cool to accept that from them."
COMING UP NEXT
The Wildcats will continue Big 12 play this weekend as the team is set to head to Morgantown, W.Va., for a three-game series against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers (20-16, 4-7 Big 12) are just ahead of the Wildcats in the Big 12 race and, according to Hill, will post a challenge to his team.
"Every series has been really important, but they're tough at their place," explained Hill. "They've had a lot of success at their place. They're going to have two left-handed pitchers that we're going to have to face, and it's going to be a huge challenge going out there. We're going to have to play our best baseball, no question."
Following the series at West Virginia, the Wildcats will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, from May 2-4, to face TCU followed by a trip to Wichita to take on Wichita State on May 6.
K-State returns home to face Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 9.
"We've got to be ready to go. It's not going to be easy," Hill said on the remainder of the season. "At West Virginia, they're very good, then we have the top three teams in the league still left to play. We've got a lot of work to do, but at the same time, if these guys can give the focus and effort like we had tonight, I know we'll have an opportunity."