Cats Use Long Ball to Down Kent State

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State blasted three home runs, including two in a five-run sixth inning, as the Wildcats defeated Kent State, 11-8, Friday in their home opener at Tointon Family Stadium.

Trailing 4-3 in the sixth, K-State (10-2) torched Kent State pitching for six-straight hits to take a commanding 8-4 lead. Mike Kindel hit a one-out solo home run -- his second of the contest -- to tie the game at four. Following a Blair DeBord single, Kent Urban pounded the first pitch he saw over the right-field wall to give the Cats a 6-4 advantage and knock Kent State starter Ryan Mace (0-1) out of the game.

Matt Giller greeted Golden Flash reliever Justin Gill with a double to right-center and scored on a Jake Brown single. After Brown went to second on a wild pitch, Adam Muenster singled to left to make the score 8-4.

"Hitting can be a contagious thing and Mike really stepped up tonight," said head coach Brad Hill. "When Kent followed him after that, you can really see the confidence level at the plate rise. We had some big two-strike RBI. Overall, I thought that was our best hitting approach from a consistency standpoint all year."

Ryan Daniel (4-0) took the win in his fourth-straight start to begin the season. The senior right-hander allowed four runs on six hits in six innings, but limited a pair of potential big innings by Kent State (5-6). Thomas Rooke came on in relief of Daniel in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out four.

"Ryan competed well," Hill said. "All he did was make some mistakes with two strikes. We didn't play really good defense behind him, either. Thomas did a great job coming in and throwing up those zeros. It's nice to have a guy that when you come out of the game, whether you are tied or up, you have confidence that the guy is going to keep them right there."

Kindel and Urban paced Kansas State offensively with two hits and four RBI apiece. Kindel's two home runs, which pushed his season total to four, were a career-high and the most by a Wildcat since Justin Bloxom had two against Xavier in last year's NCAA Regional.

Giller tied his career-high with three hits, matching his performance against Harvard last Sunday. Carter Jurica went 1-for-3 with a run scored as he extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by a Wildcat since Muenster had an 18-game streak in 2008.

Kansas State added to its lead in the seventh on back-to-back RBI hits by Urban and Giller, while the Wildcats scored a run in the eighth on a Kindel RBI ground out.

Those runs became vital as Kent State made things interesting in the top of the ninth. K-State reliever Tyler Sturges struck out the first man he faced before the Golden Flashes loaded the bases on a hit batter, walk and a single. Anthony Gallas then smashed a grand slam over the right-field wall to cut the lead to three.

Sturges settled down and struck out Travis Shaw before forcing Cory Hindel to ground out to end the game.

Gallas went 1-for-4 with six RBI for the Golden Flashes, the most runs driven in by an opponent this season.

Kent State grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ben Klafczynski tripled to right before Gallas drove him home on a RBI ground out. The Golden Flashes put up another run in the second as David Lyon hit a leadoff double down the right-field line and scored on a Jimmy Rider single. Daniel limited the damage when he induced two ground balls and recorded a strike out to keep the score at 2-0.

The Cats got one of the runs back in their half of the second when Daniel Dellasega led the inning off with a double down the right-field line and scored later scored when Urban hit a sacrifice fly to left.

Kent State regained a two-run advantage in the top of the fourth, but Kansas State tied the game at 3-3 when Kindel blasted the first pitch he saw over the right-field wall for a two-run home run in the bottom of the inning.

An error on a routine sacrifice fly allowed another Kent State run in the fifth as the Golden Flashes went up 4-3, but that proved to be Kent State's last run until the ninth.

The Wildcats and Golden Flashes continue their four-game series with a double-header at 12 p.m., at Tointon Family Stadium.