Missed Opportunities Cost Cats

LUBBOCK, Texas - Fighting from behind the entire game, Kansas State scored three runs in the top of the fourth to get within a run, but Texas Tech pitchers Jay Johnson and Chad Bettis held the Wildcats scoreless the final five innings as the Red Raiders pulled away for an 8-5 victory Thursday evening at Dan Law Field.

Texas Tech improved to 12-15 on the season and 3-4 in Big 12 play as it snapped K-State's seven-game winning streak. The Wildcats fell to 20-4 overall and suffered their first conference loss in four games.

The Wildcats had opportunities to tie the game or take the lead in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but Johnson and Bettis shut down the Cats while stranding seven runners over the final five innings.

In the sixth, K-State loaded the bases, but Johnson struck out Mike Kindel to end the threat. An inning later, the Wildcats had runners on the corners with no outs but Matt Giller was thrown out at second base, then Bettis struck out the next two K-State batters. In the eighth, the Wildcats put runners on first and second with one out, but once again couldn't solve Bettis and push across any runs.

"We had a lot of opportunities," said head coach Brad Hill. "We left 12 men on the bases, so we were a couple base hits away from making something happen."

The 12 runners stranded were the third-most by the Wildcats this season.  The Cats left 19 on base in an extra-inning contest against St. Bonaventure and 13 against Kent State.

Johnson and Bettis combined to allow just four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Johnson got the win as he surrendered just one hit in two innings. Bettis picked up his second save as the right-hander struck out six Wildcats, including three in the ninth inning.

Kansas State starter Evan Marshall (2-1) suffered his first loss of the year, allowing seven runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 3.1 innings. Thomas Rooke came on in relief and gave the Cats a chance as he tossed 3.1 scoreless innings with two walks and four strikeouts.

Texas Tech's Scott LeJeune torched K-State pitching for four hits and one RBI. Nick Martini led K-State with a three-hit contest, while Giller and Adam Muenster each added two hits for the Wildcats.

Martini extended his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest in the Big 12 this season and the third-longest in school history. He is just four games shy of the school record 25-game streak put together by Chris Hess around the 1995 and 1996 seasons.

Texas Tech jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Nick Popescu drove in the first run with a single to center then Bonham Hough doubled to score another run.  Run-scoring singles by Ashby and Jamodrick McGruder completed the scoring.

Kansas State cut the lead in the third with two runs. Muenster led off the inning off with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Martini laced a double into the left-center field gap to score Muenster and Daniel Dellsega followed by slicing a single through the right side of the finield to plate Martini and make the score 4-2.

But the Red Raiders got both runs back in their half of the inning on a RBI double by LeJeune and an infield single by Jeremy May to make  the score 6-2.

Kansas State once again rallied, closing the gap to 6-5 in the fourth inning. Kent Urban led off with a double down the left-field line and scored on a single by Giller. With two outs and the bases loaded, Texas Tech brought in left-hander reliever Ben Flora to face the left-handed hitting Martini.  On a full-count pitch, Martini laced a single into right-center field to score two runs and get the Cats within a run.

The Red Raiders pushed their lead to two again in the bottom of the fourth using three-straight singles, including a run-scoring hit by Barrett Barnes. Rooke wiggled out of further damage in the frame by forcing pinch-hitter Stephen Hagen to ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

K-State and Texas Tech continue their three-game conference series at 6:30 p.m., Friday at Dan Law Field.