Wildcats Unable to Record Timely Hit in Series Finale

Mitch Meyer had a pair of hits Sunday afternoon

March 13, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Long Island scored five times in the fourth inning and Kansas State left a season-high 14 runners on base as the Blackbirds took the final game of a four-game weekend series, 6-5, Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.

K-State fell to 11-4 with the loss, while Long Island improved to 5-6 and was able to earn a series split after the Wildcats won the first two games of the weekend.

The Wildcats had plenty of base runners early in the contest but stranded eight men in the first three innings. They left the bases loaded in the second and third innings before Long Island registered its five-run fourth.

“We just couldn’t get a big hit early to give us any cushion,” head coach Brad Hill said. “When you get men to third base with less than two outs, you have to execute there. You have to find a way to get a ground ball to the right side of the infield or a fly ball to score a run. We just didn’t get that done today.”

After getting out of the threat in the third, the first five Long Island batters in the fourth inning reached base, while the Blackbirds sent 10 men to the plate during the frame. K-State starter Blake Freeman (0-1) surrendered three-straight singles, the latter by Matt Molbury, to bring in one run and knock the Wildcat left-hander out of the contest.

Wildcat reliever Jake Doller came in, but Derek Stupski snuck a hit inside the bag and down the left-field for a two-run double to make the score 3-0. A RBI ground out, a run scoring single by Pete Leonello and a hit-by-pitch would see Doller’s day come to a close before Gerardo Esquivel came out of the bullpen to end the inning.

Kansas State began to chip away in the bottom half when Nick Martini smashed a two-out single up the middle to score Tanner Witt from second base.

Following the run, Esquivel sat down the Blackbirds in order the next half inning, giving the K-State offense some momentum as the Cats were in search of their fifth come-from-behind win of the season. Mike Kindel led the inning off with a walk and scored from first base when Kent Urban doubled down the right-field line.

Following a fielder’s choice and a pair of hit batters loaded the bases, Jake Brown hit a potential inning-ending double play to short, but beat out the throw to first to bring home another run. Brown’s hustle was rewarded the very next at-bat when Ryan Moore laced a double into left field, making the score 5-4.

Esquivel retired two of the first three batters he faced in the sixth inning before the Wildcats went to the bullpen to bring in Evan Marshall. Leonello was the first to face the Wildcat right-hander and tallied an infield single before a walk loaded the bases with two outs.

Tyler Jones was next and worked a 2-2 count, but on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, the ball got away from K-State catcher Dan Klein, bringing in one and making the score 6-4.

A sacrifice fly in the sixth cut the Wildcat deficit back to one, but the passed ball proved costly as K-State was unable to get a timely hit with runners on third base in both the seventh and eighth innings. Brown doubled with one out in the seventh, but a ground out and a strikeout ended the threat.

Jason King doubled to right to begin the ninth and went to third on a ground out, but LIU closer Evan Zerff was able to retire the next five batters to earn his second save of the series.

Long Island’s Brad Reimer (1-1) picked up the win in relief, allowing one run on two hits with a strikeout in 2.1 innings.

Martini, who went 3-for-5 on the afternoon, extended his nation-leading streak of reaching base safely to 75 games. King and Mitch Meyer also added multi-hit contests for K-State with two hits apiece.

Long Island shortstop Drew Walsh recorded his second multi-hit contest in as many games as he went 3-for-5, while Leonello, Molbury and Brad Greeve each had two hits.

Esquivel was solid in his second outing as a Wildcat, allowing an unearned with a walk and two strikeouts without surrendering a hit. James Allen was also effective in his sixth appearance in the year, throwing two scoreless innings.

Kansas State returns to action on Wednesday, March 16, as it hosts Nebraska in a non-conference tilt beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium. The contest serves as the first Dollar Dog Night as hot dogs are just $1 while supplies last.

Tickets for the contest against the Huskers, as well as season and single-game tickets for the remainder of the season, are on sale through the K-State Athletics Ticket office. Fans can purchase tickets at the main ticket office inside Bramlage Coliseum, by phone at (800) 221-CATS or online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets.