Halbohn, Ward Hurl K-State to 3-2 Win

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Buoyed by a strong starting pitching performance from Kyle Halbohn backed up by key relief pitching from Bryce Ward, the K-State baseball team used a three-run sixth inning rally to beat Stephen F. Austin, 3-2, on the road Tuesday at Jaycees Field.


Making his second start in a Wildcat uniform, Halbohn (11-9) allowed just one run -- a solo home run in the second -- over a career-high six innings to earn his second win of the season. The right-hander, who had not pitched more than three innings in an outing this year, struck out three and walked none.

"We've been looking for someone to step forward," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "Our pitching had to pick us up tonight. We just weren't good offensively, unfortunately."

After allowing the solo homer to the Lumberjacks' Dan O'Neill in the second, Halbohn retired the next nine batters in a row to keep Stephen F. Austin (6-16) from extending its 1-0 lead. The streak was snapped in the fifth when Trevor Posednik singled, but Halbohn picked off Posednik at first then struck out Holden Holsomback to end the frame.

K-State's offense finally responded in the sixth. Clayton Dalrymple was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and moved to third when Shane Conlon hustled for a double on a 3-2 pitch hit through the left side. With one out, Steve Serratore drove a ball off the center field wall for a two-run triple to put K-State on top 2-1. Serratore scored the eventual game-deciding run later in the inning on a squeeze bunt by Tyler Moore.

"We just pressed offensively after three bad at-bats in the first inning," said Hill. "Big long swings, guys just trying to do too much and being uncertain. It boiled down to putting together one good inning and getting one good swing from Serratore. Then we get the squeeze down, but the credit goes to our pitching and defense."

With Halbohn lifted from the game after six innings, the Lumberjacks jumped on K-State relievers Jackson Douglas and Lucas Benenati in the seventh. Douglas surrendered a one-out solo homer to Kyle Thornell that cut the Wildcat lead to 3-2, then allowed an infield single and a walk that forced the Wildcats to bring in Benenati. As the right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Eric DeJesus, SFA executed a double steal with Brandon Smith avoiding the tag at third on a close play. Benenati then hit Holsomback to load the bases before Bryce Ward was summoned from the bullpen and induced a groundout by pinch-hitter Tyler Boxwell to end the threat.

Ward pitched a scoreless eighth to finish his day with just one hit allowed in 1 1/3 innings pitched.

Brandon Erickson threw an unblemished ninth to earn his second save in as many opportunities this season. The right-hander worked around a one-out single to close out the Wildcats' third one-run win of the year.

K-State was outhit by Stephen F. Austin, 8-4, as no Wildcat had more than one base hit. Dalrymple reached base safely three times and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with an infield single in the third. The junior was also hit by a pitch twice.

Serratore added a walk to his triple to reach twice while Max Brown drew two of the five walks issued by Stephen F. Austin in the game.

Lumberjack reliever Travis Stone took the loss after allowing the three runs on two hits and a walk in the sixth.

K-State and Stephen F. Austin will close out their two-game midweek series on Wednesday with a 6:30 p.m. matchup. The Wildcats will start Mark Biesma while the Lumberjacks have yet to announce their starting pitcher.


NOTES
With the double in the sixth, Conlon improved his on-base streak to 20 games. The redshirt senior's career-long on-base streak is set at 21 games, established in 2014.

Over his 10-game hitting streak, Clayton Dalrymple is hitting .436 (17-for-39), which helps make him the team's leading hitter this season with a .373 batting average. Dalrymple is only the second Wildcat this season with a hitting streak of 10 or more games.

The road win for K-State was its first this season. The Wildcats, who were swept at Cal from February 28-March 2, are 1-3 in true road games.