Wildcat Offense Explodes in Win over No. 5 Texas A&M

Nick Martini

April 3, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan.Jared King's first collegiate home run highlighted a four-run fifth inning as Kansas State topped No. 5 Texas A&M, 9-4, Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.

In addition, Nick Martini set what is believed to be an NCAA record of consecutive games reaching base safely at 87 when he doubled in the second inning.

K-State salvaged the final game of a three-game series against the Aggies and improved to 16-11 overall and 2-7 in Big 12 play. Texas A&M fell to 22-6 on the year and 7-2 in conference action.

The Aggies tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth on a RBI single by Krey Bratsen. In the Wildcats' half of the inning, Nick Martini and Jason King led off with singles before Wade Hinkle sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Texas A&M starting pitcher Ross Stripling (5-2) then uncorked a pair of wild pitches to bring home two runs.

One of the wild pitches came during a swinging strikeout of Mike Kindel, allowing the K-State right-fielder to reach safely. Jared King followed by lifting his two-run homer over the wall in right-center field to increase the lead to 8-4.

“I thought the kids were extremely tough today and persevered,” head coach Brad Hill said. “We were much better offensively this weekend and that was against a pretty good pitching staff. I told our hitters I wanted to win this game with offense today. I didn’t want to sit on it and rely on our pitchers to have to do it.”

Kansas State’s nine runs and 13 hits were the most given up by Texas A&M this season as the Aggies surrendered more than five runs for just the second time this year. K-State also had 10 or more hits in all three contests after Texas A&M had allowed 10 or more in just four other games entering the weekend.

The Wildcats finished the series hitting .308 against a pitching staff that had yielded an opponent batting average of .216 entering play on Friday.

Martini led Kansas State by going 3-for-5 with a two-RBI double in the second inning.

“He was really locked in today,” Hill said of the junior outfielder. “For him to come back after (going 0-for-4) yesterday, you can tell he was much more focused today. He had huge at-bats all day long. The streak is hard to describe. His ability to be unselfish and not swing at bad pitches for that many games is phenomenal.”

Tanner Witt, Jason King and Jared King added two hits apiece for K-State. Jason King hit a home run in the first inning – his third of the week – while Jared King drove in three RBI.

Freshman reliever Jared Moore picked up the first victory of his career, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings. The left-hander induced an inning-ending ground out with runners on the corners in the fifth inning before working around a two-out double in the sixth.

Closer James Allen recorded his eighth save of the season, just one shy of his career-high set last season. The junior pitched the final three innings, surrendering two hits with no walks and a trio of strikeouts.

Texas A&M scored a pair of runs in the first inning on a RBI groundout by Jacob House, while a passed ball plated another run.

The Cats quickly tied the score when Jason King blasted his homer over the wall in right field with two outs, followed by a Hinkle triple and a RBI double by Kindel.

Martini’s double in the second pushed Kansas State to a 4-2 lead, but Texas A&M knotted the game at 4-4 on RBI singles by Bratsen in the third and fifth frames. Bratsen led the Aggies by going 3-for-5 with two RBI.

K-State added a run in the seventh inning when Jared King smacked a RBI double into the gap in left-center field to push the Wildcat lead to five.

Kansas State returns to action on Friday, April 8, as the Wildcats host Oklahoma for a three-game Big 12 series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., while the pregame tailgate begins at 5 p.m., in the picnic area beyond the left-field wall.

To order tickets for the Oklahoma series, or any of the remaining home games during the 2011 season, fans can call the K-State Athletics Ticket office at (800) 221-CATS, visit www.k-statesports.com/tickets or visit the office inside Bramlage Coliseum.