Pitching Leads Cats to Doubleheader Sweep

Evan Marshall

Feb. 20, 2011

Game One Box  |   Game Two Box

STOCKTON, Calif. - Kansas State scored two runs in the seventh inning to break away for a 5-3 victory over Pacific in game one, then used solid starting pitching and a quick start offensively in game two for a 7-4 triumph and a sweep of a double-header Saturday at Klein Family Field in the season-opening games for both teams.

Reliever Evan Marshall earned the win in the first contest, allowing just one hit and striking out three in the final 3.2 innings as he picked up where he left off from his All-Big 12 performance of last season. The junior allowed the tying run to score in the sixth inning when he hit a batter with the bases loaded, but settled down to face the minimum over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings for the victory.

In the second game, starter Matt Applegate pitch brilliantly through six innings in recording his first career victory as a starter.  He retired 18 of the first 22 batters he faced and allowed only two hits during that span before Pacific chased him from the game in the seventh with four runs.  After freshman Blake Freeman pitched 0.2 innings, junior closer James Allen came on to force a double play to get out of a jam in the eighth and worked around a one-out error in the ninth to pick up his first save of the season.

"The pitching really carried us tonight because we hurt ourselves in the second ballgame with some errors," head coach Brad Hill said. "That was outstanding from Applegate. We really needed him to step forward tonight and he did that. That was great stuff. He got tired toward the end and made a couple mistakes, but he was able to battle through a bases-loaded situation for an out. He really showed some maturity there. That's something we've been looking for out of him."

K-State was led offensively in the first game by Tanner Witt and Jared King as each recorded a pair of hits and drove in a run. King, a freshman outfielder, had a pair of doubles in his Wildcat debut. Jason King, Chase Graskewicz and Jake Brown also delivered RBIs in the first contest.

Kent Urban led the way at the plate for the Cats in the second game with a bases-clearing double in the first inning and a pair of walks. Wade Hinkle had a game-high three hits for K-State and drove in two runs, while Jared King came back with another multi-hit game and one RBI.

"We swung the bats well tonight at times," Hill said. "We were kind of inconsistent and our base running was not good at all. We also didn't execute bunts. We also had the four errors in the second game that will usually come back to bite you, and it almost did."

Marshall entered the first game in a pressure situation in the sixth inning with the Cats clinging to a 3-2 lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Marshall struck out the first batter he faced before he hit Brett Christopher to bring in the tying run.

The Cats quickly responded with a pair of runs in the seventh to take back the lead for good. After Graskewicz walked and Brown put down a sacrifice bunt, Witt roped a double into the right-field corner to plate Graskewicz. Jason King added an insurance run two batters later when he singled through the left side to score Witt.

That was all the runs Marshall needed as he shut down the Tiger offense to send K-State to its fifth opening-day win in the past six seasons.

A quick start by the Wildcats offensively in game two propelled Applegate through the first six innings as the Cats built a 7-0 cushion. The first inning featured a pair of errors by Pacific on rare catcher interference calls sandwiched around a run-scoring single by Hinkle that loaded the bases with two outs. Urban then smashed a ball over the Matthew Carvutto's head in left field and cleared the bases to give K-State an early 4-0 lead.

The Cats picked up a run in the third on another single from Hinkle, then plated two in the fourth when Jared King singled through the left side to drive in one run. The freshman then stole second and third, and he scored when catcher Jacob Sylvester's throw to third base went into the outfield.

The Tigers got to Applegate in the seventh inning as Sylvester delivered a two-RBI triple. A K-State error scored Sylvester and a single by Dustin Torchino produced another run to cut the lead to 7-4. Freeman came on in relief of Applegate to get a fly ball out before giving way to Allen to seal the victory.

The two teams will meet in a 1 p.m. (CT) contest at Klein Family Field on Sunday to wrap up the series. The game can be heard in its entirety in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, as well as online at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.