Ninth-Inning RBI Double Deals K-State 3-2 Loss

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MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Despite taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning, the K-State baseball team saw its advantage drain away until a two-out RBI double by West Virginia's Kyle Davis, the 12th hit of the game by the Mountaineers, helped deal the Wildcats a 3-2 loss in the series finale on Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium.

Max Brown's two-run triple in the bottom of the first inning proved to be the only run-producing hit by the Wildcats (13-16, 2-7 Big 12) among their four total safeties in the game. West Virginia starting pitcher Chad Donato, after stranding two Wildcats in scoring position in the second, settled in and went on to retire 15 straight between the second and seventh innings.

Danny Krause's single in the seventh snapped Donato's run, but a leadoff double by Carter Yagi in the eighth was the best opportunity for the Wildcats to score in the latter half of the game. Yagi moved to third base with no outs following a passed ball, but a groundout by Clayton Dalrymple, a strikeout by Jake Wodtke and another groundout by Steve Serratore left Yagi on third.

"With the go-ahead run at third base, you sure like to get that runner across the plate," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "We just didn't get the swing on it to get it done."

Blake Smith, who entered the game after Donato induced Dalrymple's groundout in the eighth, finished out the contest for West Virginia (18-11, 4-5 Big 12) and struck out four of the five batters he faced to earn his third win of the season.

Brandon Erickson was saddled with the loss for K-State after he allowed the game-winning run in the ninth. Justin Fox began the West Virginia rally by hitting a one-out double into the left field corner, preceding his movement to third on a groundout. After an intentional walk to Brad Johnson put runners on the corners with two outs, Davis hit a ball into left field that got past a diving Krause to allow Fox to score. Johnson was thrown out at home to end the inning, though, on a relay turned by Brown and shortstop Tyler Wolfe.

K-State starting pitcher Nate Griep allowed a season-high eight hits in five-plus innings of a no-decision. The redshirt sophomore, who also had five strikeouts and no walks, had entered the day with opponents hitting .180 against. Of the eight hits, three were for extra-bases, which was one more than he allowed combined in his first six starts of the season.

Of West Virginia's 12 total hits, five were for extra-bases.

"Our pitchers competed," said Hill. "(West Virginia) is a team that thrives on the long ball. There were a lot of hits, but very few runs up there. They just gave us a chance to win."

Griep allowed a leadoff single in the second that came around to eventually score to make it 2-1 K-State, but the right-hander went on to scatter four hits and strand three of West Virginia's 11 total runners on base from the third through the fifth innings. Griep came out to start the sixth, but he surrendered a leadoff triple to Johnson to chase him from the contest.

K-State used four pitchers in the sixth, starting with Bryce Ward, who entered the game after Johnson's triple. The freshman right-hander struck out the first batter he faced, but, after an intentional walk put runners on the corners with one out, he allowed a groundball by Ray Guerrini to Wolfe, who mishandled the ball attempting to force out Jackson Cramer at second base. The error helped Johnson score and tie the game at 2-2.

After Ward allowed a single to KC Huth to put runners on first and second, Jackson Douglas entered the game and struck out Cam O'Brien before Corey Fischer induced an inning-ending fly out to left.

Fischer went on to throw 1 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball, improving his ERA and batting average against as a reliever this season to 1.35 (1er, 6.2ip) and .174, respectively, in four appearances.

Douglas, meanwhile, has a 0.00 ERA and four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings pitched during Big 12 play.

K-State will remain at home for the first of its two midweek games this week. The Wildcats face No. 18 Nebraska on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m.


NOTES
K-State has lost its first three Big 12 series this season and seven straight conference series dating back to being swept by West Virginia from April 25-27, 2014.

The triple by Brown was his career-high fourth three-base hit of the season. The four triples are the most by a Wildcat in a campaign since three different players -- Mitch Meyer (5), Jon Davis (4) and Ross Kivett (4) -- had at least four in 2013.

The K-State bullpen turned in a 1.84 ERA (3er, 14.2ip) against West Virginia in the series.