K-State Opens 2015 with 5-4 Win over Iowa

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - K-State reliever Kyle Halbohn shut the door with a five-out save following the Wildcats' three-run eighth inning as the K-State baseball team opened the 2015 season with a 5-4 win over Iowa on Friday at Charlotte Sports Park.


The Wildcats (1-0) took a 5-2 lead in the top half of the eighth, sparked by a pinch-hit RBI single by Tyler Moore, before Halbohn stranded a pair of inherited runners in the bottom of the frame to halt a two-run Hawkeye rally. Halbohn, a right-hander who spent the last two years at the junior college level pitching for Spartanburg Methodist, worked around a two-out double in the ninth to pick up the save in his K-State debut. 

"(Halbohn) attacked the zone with strikes, that's the big thing," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "He was fearless. He got a little help on the pop-up on the safety squeeze (for the first out in the eighth), but he really used that momentum to get on through the game. Even in the last inning, the two-out double, he could have started feeling for it, but he didn't. He stayed aggressive with his pitches."

K-State held a 2-0 advantage through five-and-a-half innings, but Iowa answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to even the score. The Wildcats regained the lead in the eighth when Danny Krause drew a leadoff walk and Shane Conlon followed up with a single to center that moved Krause to third. Conlon moved up to second with a stolen base before Moore, the backup catcher for the day, drove a full-count pitch through the left side of a drawn-in Iowa infield to score Krause and give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.

"(Moore's) been swinging the bat really well in batting practice," said Hill. "It's been a toss-up on who we were going to start behind the plate; I even thought about DH-ing him, honestly. He's the guy I felt right there who was going to give us a good at-bat."

K-State loaded the bases after Clayton Dalrymple was issued a one-out intentional walk. Catcher Alex Bee then delivered a deep fly ball to left field that allowed Conlon to score on the sacrifice fly. Sam Chadick, who pinch-ran for Moore, completed the scoring on a wild pitch with Tyler Wolfe at the plate to build K-State's lead to 5-2.

Iowa came right back as No. 9 hitter Nick Day reached base on a fielding error by Wolfe to open the bottom of the eighth. K-State pitcher Jordan Floyd, who entered the game in the sixth, induced a high-chopper from Eric Toole to record the first out as Day moved to second. Floyd was then lifted in favor of Nate Williams, who was making his first appearance since the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Williams, who missed last season with a foot injury, labored through three batters, issuing three walks and throwing two wild pitches as the Hawkeyes cut the lead to 5-4.

Lost in the late-game scoring flurry was K-State starting pitcher Nate Griep's performance in which the redshirt sophomore did not allow a hit through his first five innings pitched. The right-hander finished with a career-high seven strikeouts while being responsible for two runs, two hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings of a no-decision.

Griep was relieved by Floyd, who earned his first career win following two innings of relief. Floyd threw a wild pitch and balked home a run charged to Griep that tied the game in the sixth, but the sophomore left-hander settled in and finished the day without allowing a hit or a walk

K-State pitchers limited the Hawkeyes to three hits. 

The Wildcat offense produced seven hits spread out amongst seven different hitters. Krause led K-State by reaching base safely three times (one hit, two walks).

Iowa starting pitcher Tyler Peyton did not factor into the decision despite striking out six and allowing one run in five innings pitched. Connor Grant, who relieved Peyton in the sixth, was charged with the loss after surrendering three runs over his two-plus innings pitched.

The Wildcats were the first to get on the board when Wolfe, who reached with a one-out double, was plated by a sacrifice fly from Jake Wodtke in the fifth. The lead was stretched to 2-0 in the sixth when Max Brown legged out an infield RBI single that drove home Krause.

K-State returns to action on Saturday with a pair of games at North Charlotte Regional Park. The Wildcats will face Pittsburgh at 10 a.m. (CT) to start the day followed by a 2 p.m. contest against George Mason.


NOTES
K-State extended its winning streak against Iowa to six games. The Wildcats lead the all-time series against the Hawkeyes, 13-7.

The Wildcats are 6-1 in season openers since 2009 and 8-4 under head coach Brad Hill.

Clayton Dalrymple (9 games) and Max Brown (7 games) extended their respective on-base streaks carried over from the 2014 season. The nine-game on-base streak for Dalrymple is a career-high.