Cats Earn 6-3 Win Over Northern Colorado

Tanner Witt went 2-for-4 with a RBI on Tuesday

March 29, 2011

Final Stats

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State scored five runs in the first three innings and received solid efforts from sophomores Tanner Witt and Tyler Sturges as the Wildcats downed Northern Colorado, 6-3, Tuesday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.

With the victory, K-State improved to 14-9 overall and 8-2 at home this season, while the Bears fell to 2-16.

After the Wildcats scored three runs in the first inning and another two in the second, Northern Colorado plated two runs in the fifth frame and still had the bases loaded with two outs. That’s when Sturges came out of the bullpen to record a strikeout to get out of the frame.

The right-hander went on to retire six of the next nine batters he faced, surrendering only a pair of singles with a walk and four strikeouts in 2.1 innings.

“I thought Tyler Sturges had the turning point in the game,” head coach Brad Hill said. “He came in and stopped them with the bases loaded in the fifth, which really killed the momentum Northern Colorado created. He did a really good job for us.”

Jared Moore and James Allen followed Sturges out of the bullpen, throwing a pair of no-hit innings with three combined strikeouts. Allen picked up his seventh save of the season and the 21st of his career in the process as he is now just five shy of the Kansas State career record.

Witt recorded his fourth-straight multi-hit game by going 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI. He began the game with a single up the middle and went from first to third on a wild pitch before scoring two batters later. He also tallied a two-out RBI double in the sixth inning to complete the game’s scoring.

“Tanner Witt is playing some really good baseball right now,” Hill said. “For a leadoff hitter, we need him getting on base so he can generate some offense for us, much like Adam Muenster last year. He went from first to third on a wild pitch in the first inning, which I thought really set the tone for us. He has made some adjustments to his game and is really doing what we need him to do to have a successful offense.”

After walking in a pinch hit appearance on Sunday at Baylor, Wade Hinkle made his first start since February 25 following an injury that sidelined the junior for over a month. The Albuquerque, N.M., product responded as he went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a pair of hit-by-pitches.

“It was nice to have Wade Hinkle back in the lineup,” Hill said of the junior-college transfer. “He had a presence for us and obviously had a couple of big hits.”

K-State freshman starter Blake Freeman (1-1) earned his first career win in a predetermined three-inning start. The left-hander allowed an unearned run on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

Freshman right-hander Chris Hammer (1-1) took the loss for Northern Colorado by surrendering five runs on four hits with a walk and three fanned batters through three innings.

Kansas State began the game’s scoring in the bottom of the first when Witt and Nick Martini both reached before moving into scoring position on a wild pitch and a stolen base, respectively. Jason King was next and hit a sacrifice fly, but Bear left fielder Kevin Hurd dropped the ball, which allowed both runners to score.

King then came around from second base when Hinkle hit a ball through the middle of the infield to make the score 3-0.

After UNC scored in the top of the third on a squeeze bunt off the bat of Bret Fanning, the Cats plated two more in the bottom half when Martini came across on a passed ball before Hinkle doubled to push the K-State advantage to 5-1.

Following a scoreless fourth inning, the Bears got back into the game with two runs in the fifth. Three straight singles, the latter by Ben Packard, scored one run. After a walk, Harrison Lambert singled through the left side of the infield to make the score 5-3.

That’s when Sturges came in from the bullpen to strike out Jarod Berggren on four pitches to get out of the jam. The right-hander was able to work around a two-out single in the sixth, while Witt sliced his double down the right-field line in the bottom half to score Jake Brown from second.

That’s all the insurance the Cats would need as Sturges struck out Lambert with a runner in scoring position in the seventh inning before Moore and Allen sealed the victory.

Kansas State stole six bases in the game, including a trio by Martini, to tally its fifth contest this season with five or more steals.

In addition to his stolen bases, Martini walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored two runs as he extended his nation-leading streak of consecutive games reaching base to 83, just three shy of the known Division I record.

Northern Colorado was paced offensively by Fanning and Berggren, who had two hits apiece.

The Wildcats and Bears conclude their midweek series on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. first pitch at Tointon Family Stadium. General admission bench tickets for the contest are available for just $3. To purchase tickets, fans can visit www.k-statesports.com/tickets or call (800) 221-CATS.