Cats Top WSU Before Stadium-Record Crowd
Cats Top WSU Before Stadium-Record Crowd
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to break a 3-3 tie as the 20th-ranked Wildcats topped No. 30 Wichita State, 8-3, Tuesday night in front of a Tointon Family Stadium record crowd of 4,745.
Kansas State improved to 20-3 with the win, its best start since also opening 20-3 in 2006. The Wildcats also picked up their fourth-straight win over their in-state rivals from Wichita, the most since winning the first 10 games of the series between 1906 and 1954. K-State has now won eight of the last 11 games against WSU, including four of the last six in Manhattan.
The matchup on the first warm night of the spring helped create the perfect scene for the record crowd at Tointon Stadium. The 4,745 fans in attendance smashed the previous mark of 4,280 set on May 15 last season when the Wildcats defeat Kansas.
Carter Jurica broke the seventh-inning tie when he blasted a leadoff home run over the wall in left field. It was the junior shortstop's fourth homer of the season and the second in as many games. Nick Martini followed with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and later scored when Mike Kindel laced a single into center field to give the Cats a 5-3 advantage.
Pinch runner Ryan Moore stole second base and Kent Urban walked to load the bases ahead of Tanner Witt. On a full-count pitch, the freshman infielder ripped a hit into center field to score Kindel and Moore. Witt broke for second when the throw came back into the infield and when Shocker first baseman Johnny Coy threw the ball into center field, Urban scored to give the Cats their five-run advantage.
"They were a big hit away twice from really breaking the game open," said head coach Brad Hill. "Somehow we managed to get through it. Carter gave us the momentum back in the seventh. He really put a great swing on that ball and that loosened us back up quite a bit.
"The fans are really jumping on with what we're doing," Hill said about the record crowd. "They had more energy than our bench for a while, and that's what you hope a home crowd will do. They picked us up and energized us. We hope that we can keep them coming out."
Witt had the best game of his young career, going 2-for-4 with a career-high four RBI. Martini, Kindel and Adam Muenster added two hits each in K-State's 12-hit offensive attack. In a 2-for-5 effort, Martini extended his hitting streak to 20 games, tied for the third-longest in school history with Pat Maloney, who also had a 20-game run in 2001.
Muenster had two steals on the evening to improve his career total to 58. The senior is now three away from the school record of 61 by Tim Decker from 1993-95.
Matt Applegate, who recorded the last two outs of the seventh and pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings, picked up his first win of the season. The Wichita native allowed one hit with two walks and a pair of strikeouts.
Wichita State reliever Grant Muncrief (0-1) took the loss for the Shockers, allowing the first three Wildcats runs in the seventh.
K-State opened the scoring with a trio of runs in the second inning. A pair of singles -- including a RBI hit by Urban -- were sandwiched around a walk. Witt was next and hit the first pitch he saw up the middle to score two more runs, giving Kansas State a 3-0 advantage.
The Shockers had an opportunity to scratch across runs in the top of the third when they loaded the bases. But K-State starter Justin Lindsey forced a pop-out and a ground out to get out of the inning unharmed.
The Cats had a chance to add to their lead in the fifth when they loaded the bases with one out, but Shocker starter Josh Smith wiggled out of the jam to keep WSU in the game and give the visitors a lift. The Shockers responded by scoring three times in the top of the sixth without recording a hit. Cody Lassley reached on a leadoff error by Jurica before a hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases. Freshman reliever Jake Doller came into the game and hit the first batter he faced to bring home WSU's first run.
Pinch hitter Garrett Bayliff grounded out to score the second run and a sacrifice fly from Will Baez tied the game at 3-3.Kansas State returns to Big 12 action later this week when it travels to Lubbock, Texas, to face Texas Tech, Thursday through Saturday. Thursday's game will be televised nationally on Fox College Sports at 6:30 p.m., while all three games can be heard on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN or online at www.1350kman.com.