K-State Falls Behind Early, Loses 5-3

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MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The K-State baseball team fell behind by three runs after the first-inning-and-a-half on Friday while West Virginia's Ross Vance walked six but surrendered just three hits in a complete game as the Wildcats dropped the second game of the series, 5-3, to the Mountaineers at Tointon Family Stadium.

K-State (13-15, 2-6 Big 12) managed to put a runner on base in all but one inning against Vance, but the redshirt junior forced K-State to go 2-for-16 with runners on and strand five.

"(Vance) got us last year, doing the same thing to us," said K-State baseball head coach Brad Hill about the left-hander, who allowed one run in a seven-inning start against the Wildcats on April 27, 2014 in Morgantown. "He got to us early and frustration started to set in. There were not good adjustments by our hitters either. In the last three innings, we got some decent at-bats. We needed those at-bats, though, in the fourth inning -- the second time through the order."

The Mountaineers (17-11, 3-5 Big 12), who had 10 hits in the game, jumped on K-State starting pitcher Brandon Courville early, using back-to-back RBI hits with two outs in the first to make it 2-0. In the second, a leadoff double by Caleb Potter was converted into a run when Cam O'Brien hit an RBI single.

"Down three in the second inning, and we were acting like we were down 13," said Hill. "We can't do that. We have to fight back a little better offensively."

K-State scored its first run of the game without the benefit of a hit in the third when a throwing error by Vance on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Carter Yagi put runners on the corners for Clayton Dalrymple. The junior managed to drive in Jake Wodtke, who led off with a walk, by hitting into a fielder's choice and cutting the West Virginia advantage to 3-1.

However, the Mountaineers answered in the fourth when Courville walked Jackson Cramer to start the frame. Cramer moved to second on a wild pitch by Courville and then scored on a single by KC Huth that glanced off Yagi's glove at third base and slowly rolled into shallow left field.

In the fifth, West Virginia tacked on a run off K-State reliever Jordan Floyd when the leadoff hitter, Shaun Wood, reached with a bunt single and scored on Kyle Davis' RBI single down the third base line.

Despite the three hits, K-State did manage to draw six walks off Vance, including a career-high three by Tyler Wolfe. The junior drew his second base on balls in the seventh and eventually came around to score on an RBI groundout by Yagi that made it 5-2 West Virginia.

Wolfe's leadoff walk in the seventh was one of four times the Wildcats put their first batter of an inning on base. In addition to Wodtke in the third and Wolfe in the seventh, Conlon was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game to start the eighth and was driven in by Max Brown's one-out RBI double. Brown's extra-base hit, the only one by the Wildcats in the game, plated Conlon from second, but the centerfielder was thrown out at third base on the play trying to stretch it into a triple.

"I can't fault (Max)," said Hill. "That's a guy we think triple when he hits into the gap. (Centerfielder KC Huth and shortstop Taylor Munden) made two great throws, including (Munden's) strike to third base (on the relay). It was a great swing by Max. We just needed more swings like Max's throughout the game."

The fourth and final time K-State put its leadoff hitter on base was the only time it did not convert it into a run. In the ninth, Wolfe once again started the inning with a walk. However, after a fielder's choice by Taylor Anderson erased Wolfe at second, Wodtke hit into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. Wodtke's grounder was one of 16 groundouts by the Wildcats in the game.

After Floyd allowed the one run over 2 1/3 innings, junior Levi MaVorhis finished out the game by surrendering just one hit and one walk with two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of work.

For MaVorhis, it was his longest relief outing since April 5, 2013 when he threw four innings against Texas Tech. The right-hander had not thrown more than two innings in an appearance out of the bullpen all season.

K-State and West Virginia will meet in the rubber match of the series on Saturday at 11 a.m. Right-hander Nate Griep returns to the mound for the Wildcats after missing last weekend's start. The redshirt sophomore will face off against Mountaineer righty Chad Donato.


NOTES
The loss snapped K-State's three-game home winning streak against West Virginia. The Wildcats are 3-2 all-time against the Mountaineers in Manhattan and 3-5 overall.

The Wildcats have drawn 13 walks and struck out five times so far in the series. In last weekend's series at Oklahoma State, K-State walked nine times and struck out 23.

Friday was the first time K-State, which is 7-3 at home this season, had a home contest decided by two runs or less.