Pitching Propels Cats Past No. 7 Oklahoma

James Allen recorded his ninth save of the season and the 23rd of his career

April 8, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan.Kyle Hunter tossed 7.2 shutout innings and closer James Allen picked up his ninth save of the year as Kansas State blanked No. 7 Oklahoma, 2-0, Friday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.

With the victory, the Wildcats moved to 17-11 overall and 3-7 in Big 12 play, while OU fell to 23-7 on the year and 5-4 in conference action.

The combined shutout between Hunter and Allen marked the first over Oklahoma since March 31, 1990, while it was the first against a Big 12 opponent since a 5-0 win over Kansas in 2009. The duo also limited the Big 12’s top hitting team to just five hits after the Sooners held a .337 batting average entering the weekend.

Hunter’s performance was even more impressive considering he had to work with runners on base in every inning except one. But the left-hander forced Oklahoma to strand just five on base due to two double plays and a pair of runners thrown out on the base paths.

Hunter, who tied his career high with 119 pitches thrown, worked around four hits and three walks, while he struck out a pair of Sooner batters.

“It boiled down to pitching, and Kyle Hunter made good pitches all night long,” head coach Brad Hill said. “I thought he competed extremely hard for us. He threw pitches when he had to. Sometimes you may not have your best stuff, but when you have to make a pitch, you make a pitch, and that’s what he did tonight. He had to be mixing some good pitches in there because that is a great hitting ballclub.”

Hunter left to a standing ovation with two outs in the eighth inning after allowing a double. Allen came in to record a strikeout to halt the Oklahoma scoring chance.

Allen surrendered a leadoff double in the ninth inning, but the right-hander struck out the Big 12’s leading hitter in Garrett Buechele before forcing a fly out and a ground out to end the contest. He picked up the 23rd save of his career as he is now just three away from tying the Kansas State career record.

The Cats handed Oklahoma starter Michael Rocha (7-1) his first loss of the season after allowing two runs – one of which was unearned – on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings. Rocha had lasted at least seven innings in all seven of his previous starts, while he gave up just his seventh earned run of the year.

Two of K-State’s five hits came off the bat of Jake Brown as he extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. The junior was 2-for-2 a RBI walk and a run scored, while Tanner Witt, Mike Kindel and Jared King each recorded one hit. Nick Martini extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 88 games with a fifth-inning walk.

The Wildcats pushed across their first run of the evening in the second inning, thanks to four Oklahoma miscues. Kindel hit a ground ball to first base, but Cameron Seitzer’s throw to the bag was low, allowing the right fielder to reach on the error. King and Conlon then loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch and a walk, respectively, before Brown drew his walk in a nine-pitch at-bat to score the first run of the game.

Brown came back in the fifth to hit a one-out single before Witt’s base hit to left field put runners on the corners. Following a walk, Jason King sharply hit a line drive directly to OU left-fielder Max White, but it was deep enough to bring home Brown and push the Wildcat lead to two.

Kansas State and Oklahoma continue they weekend series on Saturday with a 2 p.m., first pitch at Tointon Family Stadium. The pregame tailgate begins at 12:30 p.m., in the picnic area beyond the left-field wall, while Saturday’s game serves as “Bring Your Dog to the Park” Day presented by PETCO.

To purchase tickets, fans can visit www.k-statesports.com/tickets, call the K-State Athletics Ticket office at 1-800-221-CATS or visit the ticket window at Tointon Family Stadium one hour prior to first pitch.