Griep, Ward Combine for Shutout in 4-0 Win

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Led by starting pitcher Nate Griep, who threw seven shutout innings and struck out six, the K-State baseball team blanked Missouri State, 4-0, on Friday in the series opener at Tointon Family Stadium.

Pitching into the seventh inning for the fourth time in his five starts this year, Griep scattered four hits and four walks in his quality start for the Wildcats (9-8), stranding seven of nine runners left on base in the game by Missouri State (9-5).

Griep, who earned his third win of the season, notched six strikeouts, a mark the redshirt sophomore has now reached in each of his five outings and helping him total a career-high 33 punchouts on the season. Last year, the right-hander had 32 strikeouts in 15 appearances (10 starts).

Wildcat reliever Bryce Ward completed K-State's second shutout of the season by throwing an unblemished two innings. The freshman right-hander allowed two hits in the eighth but recovered with a perfect ninth.

"I thought it was a solid win," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "No runs on the board - Nate (Griep) was really good, and Bryce (Ward) came in and kept his composure and made really good pitches to get himself out of (the eighth inning)."

Griep used 111 pitches to get through his seven innings. He faced runners on base in all but the second frame, but he did not allow a runner to reach second base over his final three innings of work. From the first through the fourth, Griep forced Missouri State to strand a combined four runners in scoring position.

"(Griep) wasn't sharp, too many pitches for him, but he's such a competitor and he made some pitches when he had to make some pitches," said Hill. "He just comes out and does what he does."

The K-State offense backed up Griep's start by scoring a run in the second and three in the fifth. Steve Serratore led off the second by reaching with an infield single, one of three straight singles by the Wildcats off Missouri State starting pitcher Matt Hall to help load the bases. After a strikeout by Tyler Wolfe, Jake Wodtke hit a groundball fielder's choice to Missouri State shortstop Joey Hawkins, who failed to cleanly field the ball and get the force out at second base. The error allowed Serratore to easily score and make it 1-0 K-State.

The error by Hawkins in the second was one of his two in the game, and five total by the Bears, as K-State took advantage of three more Bear miscues in the fifth. Wodtke started off the frame by hitting another groundball to Hawkins, who committed an error to allow the K-State second baseman to reach base. The next batter, Carter Yagi, laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt to move Wodtke to second, but Missouri State catcher Eduardo Castro threw the ball over the first baseman's head to allow Wodtke to reach third and advance Yagi to second. Clayton Dalrymple made the error prove costly when he drilled a two-run single into right field to make it 3-0 K-State. Shane Conlon followed Dalrymple, who advanced to second on a fielding error by Missouri State right fielder Blake Graham during his single, with an RBI double into the right-center field gap to cap the scoring at 4-0.

Conlon finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI as the redshirt senior has now registered a multi-hit game in each of the last four contests (10-for-15). Conlon has also reached base safely in 13 of his 18 plate appearances (.722 OBP) over the stretch.

In addition to Conlon, Serratore and Tyler Moore had multi-hit efforts, with Moore going 2-for-2 with a walk and hit by pitch while Serratore was 2-for-4 with a double. For both Moore and Serratore, it was their third multi-hit over the last five contests.

K-State and Missouri State will meet for game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. Right-hander Colton Kalmus will make the start for the Wildcats and face Bear left-hander Andy Cheray.

K-State has now won consecutive games against Missouri State after last season's 8-3 win over the Bears in Abilene, Texas. This marks the first time since 1991-1992 that either side in the series has won consecutive games. The Wildcats, who lead the all-time series 13-10, won five straight during their run in the early 1990s.

Conlon's 2-for-3 night extended his on-base streak to a team-high 17 games. It is his longest on-base streak since he reached base in a career-high 21 consecutive games from February 15-March 22, 2014.

Danny Krause saw his team-best 12-game hitting streak come to an end as the junior went 0-for-4. Krause batted cleanup for the fourth time this season.