K-State Splits Doubleheader at Iowa, Takes Third Straight Series

IOWA CITY, Iowa – K-State split its doubleheader at Iowa on Sunday, losing in game one, 2-1, before taking down the Hawkeyes, 4-2, in the finale to clinch its third straight series win.

The Wildcats (21-23), who have won five of their last six games and eight of their last 12, limited Iowa (20-21) to two runs in each of the three games in the series. It was also their third series win over the Hawkeyes over the last four seasons, with two of those being at Duane Banks Field.

Sunday’s doubleheader, which featured temperatures in the 40s and rainy conditions for the latter part of game two, had no errors committed by the Wildcats while Iowa had two. Offensively, K-State had 14 hits, including seven doubles, and the pitching staff forced Iowa to strand 17 runners and go 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

“More than anything else, we played well in tough conditions,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill about the series win. “We have played in great conditions almost all year, and then you come up here, and it’s 20 degrees colder, windy and rainy. The guys hung in there. We pitched really well all weekend. Offensively, we did what we had to do to win two games. Pitching, though, picked us up, and we played pretty good defense.”

A solo home run by Iowa’s Joel Booker in the seventh provided the difference in game one as the Wildcats lost to the Hawkeyes, 2-1.

K-State struck first, with an RBI groundout by Quintin Crandall in the second, but Iowa evened it up in the bottom half of the inning when a two-out, infield single by Tyler Peyton plated Lucas Farley.

The Wildcats were neutralized for the last seven innings by Iowa reliever Nick Gallagher, who surrendered just two hits while striking out five and not issuing any walks. The right-hander inherited two runners from starter Ryan Erickson in the third, but a lineout double play and groundout to end the frame started a stretch of 13 in a row retired by Gallagher. 

Despite the offense being slowed, K-State did not allow a hit after the leadoff batter in the third until Booker’s home run in the seventh. Starter Levi MaVorhis, who threw 4 2/3 innings in the no-decision, held the Hawkeyes hitless for his last 2 2/3 innings while Colton Kalmus retired five of the first seven batters he faced. With one out in the seventh, Kalmus allowed the homer to Booker.

K-State, which came away empty after back-to-back hits in the seventh, were held to four hits in the game, its fewest this season.

K-State had five doubles among its 10 hits in game two, including an RBI double by Quintin Crandall in the sixth that drove in the eventual game-deciding run of the Wildcats’ 4-2 victory over Iowa.

The Wildcats never trailed in the series finale as they scored a run in the first, broke a 1-1 tie with a sacrifice fly by Tyler Moore in the fourth, and then used Crandall’s double into the gap in the sixth to make it 3-1. K-State later added its final run in the eighth on a pinch-hit, RBI single by Cade Bunnell. The run in the eighth answered Iowa’s seventh-inning run that cut the Wildcats’ two-run advantage in half.

K-State used five different pitchers to limit the Hawkeyes to two runs for the third time in the weekend. Starter Corey Fischer did not factor into the decision, but he yielded just one run on four hits over 4 1/3 innings. The senior was lifted in the fifth after allowing a one-out single and walk. Nick Jones, who pitched in game one, relieved Fischer and after Moore caught Tyler Peyton trying to steal second, Jones struck out Nick Roscetti to end the inning. 

Jones, who has not allowed a run in his last nine appearances, registered the win – his first of the season – after getting out of the fifth-inning jam. 

Mitch Zubradt and Brandon Erickson worked the sixth and seventh innings, allowing one run, before Lucas Benenati notched his team-best fourth save of the season, and second of the weekend, by turning in a scoreless eighth and ninth. The senior surrendered two hits in the eighth, but a lineout double play ended the frame while he then worked a 1-2-3 ninth, highlighted by two strikeouts, to close it out.

Iowa starting pitcher Calvin Mathews took the loss for the Hawkeyes as he allowed two runs on four hits over three-plus innings.

K-State wraps up its non-conference swing by playing Wichita State in a home-and-home on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Wildcats host the Shockers on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

The Wildcats have won five of their last seven road games and are 9-10 away from Manhattan on the season.

Over that seven-game road stretch, K-State has a 2.95 ERA.

K-State had double-digit hits in two of the three games during the Iowa series, giving it 10+ hits in seven of its last eight games.

The Wildcats have turned 18 double plays over their last 11 games, 12 of which were to end an inning. In the first 33 games of the season, K-State had nine inning-ending double plays.