K-State Notches First Season-Opening Shutout Since 2007




1-0 (0-0 Big 12)

0-1 (0-0 Big West)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KST 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 3
UCR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
W: Fischer (1-0) L: Sodders (0-1) S: Kalmus (1)
  • Time of Game: 2:53
  • First Pitch: 6:15
  • Temperature: 64 F
  • Wind: Calm
  • Attendance: 423

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Tyler Moore’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning backed up a combined shutout twirled by four K-State pitchers as the Wildcats opened the 2016 season with a 1-0 victory over UC Riverside on Friday at the Riverside Sports Complex. 

The win for the Wildcats (1-0) was their first shutout in a season opener since 2007 and first 1-0 win in 19 years. The victory also snapped their four-game losing streak to Big West Conference opponents.

The shutout effort by the K-State pitching staff was led by starter Corey Fischer, who limited the Highlanders (0-1) to three hits over five-plus innings in a winning decision. The senior also struck out five, which fell one shy of his career-high that was set in his first outing of the 2015 season against Saint Louis.

Wildcat junior Jordan Floyd did his part in the pitching showcase as the left-hander worked three blank frames in relief of Fischer. Floyd ended up surrendering one hit – a one-out double in the eighth – and striking out one.

K-State had its back against the wall in the bottom of the ninth as Wildcat reliever Lucas Benenati loaded the bases with two outs after a pair of walks and hit by pitch. The Wildcats summoned redshirt junior Colton Kalmus, who is scheduled to start on Monday, and the right-hander used two pitches to end the threat by inducing a fly out to right field.

“The pitching was outstanding,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “Just a great start for Fischer and Floyd kept it going. Kalmus had to bail us out, though. We were one strike away with Benenati on the mound, then the bases were loaded and we weren’t feeling as good about things. Kalmus just came in, and challenged up with a fastball.”

Despite three errors, its most in a game since May 5, 2015 at Wichita State (3), K-State used stellar defensive plays to keep the Highlanders off the scoreboard. A relay turned by Quintin Crandall, Jake Wodtke and Josh Ethier in the fourth eliminated a leadoff double by Colby Schultz as the UC Riverside shortstop attempted to stretch the hit into a triple.

Later in the sixth, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Wodtke made a sliding grab in foul territory in shallow right field before throwing out Cameron Haskell at home as the UC Riverside designated hitter attempted to tag up and score on the play.

“Wodtke was unbelievable tonight with a heads-up play and two throws that he made,” said Hill.

In the eighth, the game-tying run was standing on third base when Ethier made a diving stab at a groundball hit by Schultz. The K-State third baseman knocked the ball down before quickly regaining his feet and firing to first to get the inning-ending out and preserving the shutout.

UC Riverside finished the game with seven runners left on base, including six in scoring position. All seven runners were stranded after the fourth inning.

K-State managed to put a runner in scoring position just three times. In the fourth, Wodtke drew a leadoff walk and was moved up a base by Tyler Wolfe’s sacrifice bunt. However, Wodtke was narrowly thrown out during the next at-bat as he attempted to steal third. Wolfe later represented K-State’s last runner in scoring position when he moved from first to second on Moore’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.

The sacrifice fly was set up when Clayton Dalrymple reached with an infield single to start the frame. After Wodtke moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, Wolfe’s single advanced the K-State senior to third and put runners at the corners for Moore. The catcher, who was second on the team in RBI last year, hit a towering fly ball to left field that allowed Dalrymple to score without a play at the plate.

“It was a good win for the team,” said Hill. “They showed composure and kept playing through it. Obviously, we weren’t playing very well offensively, but one (run) was enough tonight.”

The Wildcats were handcuffed by UC Riverside starting pitcher Austin Sodders, who fanned eight over six innings in a losing decision. The junior college transfer surrendered just three hits while also issuing two walks and hitting a batter.

The save for Kalmus was the first of his career. He has not allowed a run in his last four relief appearances, a stretch that dates back to 2014.

The two teams will meet for the second game of the four-game set on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT/3 p.m. CT. K-State’s Parker Rigler will make his first career Division I start and oppose UC Riverside’s Angel Landazuri.

Prior to Friday, the last time K-State had a shutout in its season opener was 2007 when it blanked Penn State, 5-0. 

The Wildcats have 10 all-time shutouts among their 68 season-opening wins. Over the last 40 years, K-State has just four Opening Day shutouts (2016, 2007, 1998, 1991).

The Wildcats have won seven of their last eight season openers, improving their record to 68-39 all-time. Under Brad Hill, K-State is 9-4 in season openers.

The last time K-State won a 1-0 game was on March 14, 1997 vs. Pepperdine in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It has now won 1-0 24 times in program history, but just twice since 1981.

Tyler Wolfe extended his on-base streak to 23 games when he dropped down the bunt single in the sixth. It is the longest on-base streak by a Wildcat since Ross Kivett’s 25-game stretch in 2014.