K-State Comeback Falls Short in 5-3 Loss

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Trailing by three entering the bottom of the ninth, No. 20 Kansas State scored once and had the tying run on first with two outs, but Nebraska closer Casey Hauptman forced a fly ball as the Huskers defeated the Wildcats, 5-3, Friday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.

With the win, Nebraska improved to 16-14 on the year, including a 4-6 mark in Big 12 play. Kansas State fell to 21-6 overall and 4-3 in conference action.

Down 5-2 in the ninth, Blair DeBord and Jake Brown recorded back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no outs. After a strikeout and a fly out, Nick Martini laced a single into right field to score a run. But Daniel Dellasega hit a fly ball on the first pitch of the at-bat to the end the game.

The Huskers received an outstanding pitching performance from right-hander Michael Mariot (3-4), who allowed just two runs on five hits in seven-plus innings of work. The junior walked four batters and struck out seven Wildcats.

Coupled with three strikeouts Hauptman, Nebraska struck out 10 Wildcats, the fourth-straight game opponent pitchers have struck out at least seven K-State batters. Hauptman picked up his third save of the season, allowing one run on three hits in 1.2 innings.

Nebraska's Adam Bailey hit two home runs and drove in four of the Huskers' five runs on the evening. Tyler Farst added a fifth-inning RBI when he singled through the left side of the infield on a 2-2 pitch with two outs.

Adam Muenster recorded his eighth-straight multi-hit contest as he went 2-for-5. DeBord also added two hits with one RBI.

Martini went hitless for the first eight innings, but his RBI single in the ninth improved his hitting streak to a nation-leading 24 games. The streak is tied for the second-longest in K-State history with Otto Kaifes (1987), while he is one away from tying the school record.

K-State starter Justin Lindsey (2-1) took the loss as he allowed four runs on four hits. Lindsey pitched effectively for most of his four innings of work, but made a few mistakes in the third as he hit DJ Belfonte and walked Kale Kiser with one out. Bailey then approached and hit the first pitch he saw over the wall in right-center field to give Nebraska a 3-0 lead.

K-State had a chance to get a few of those runs back in the third as the Cats sandwiched a pair of walks around a double to load the bases with one out. Mariot was able to settle down and strike out Martini and Dellasega to keep the Wildcats off the scoreboard.

"The bottom of the third was big to have the bases loaded and not get anything out of that," said head coach Brad Hill. "That was a big deal, obviously. There were a few miscues throughout the night, but I was really disappointed with the bottom of the third."

Kansas State came back in the fourth to get within one after Kent Urban was hit by a pitch and moved to third when Mike Kindel smashed a double off the wall in deep center field. Both runs scored on consecutive RBI ground outs by Matt Giller and DeBord, making the score 3-2.

The Wildcats missed out on another opportunity in the sixth inning as Kindel walked with one out before Giller came to the plate. The Wildcat left fielder hit a ground ball up the middle, which Husker shortstop Chad Christensen snagged on a diving attempt. Christensen attempted to throw Kindel out at second from the ground, but the ball went into the middle of the infield. Kindel tried to advance to third on the play, but was thrown out by Mariot. After a single, Brown grounded out and the Wildcats came up empty.

Bailey hit another home run over the wall in right-center field, a solo shot in the seventh, that put the Husker advantage at three.

The Wildcats and Huskers continue their three-game series on Saturday with a 2 p.m. first pitch at Tointon Family Stadium.