K-State Falls Behind Early, Loses 7-1 to Texas Tech

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MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The K-State baseball team surrendered four runs in the first and three in the third as the Wildcats had their three-game winning streak snapped after a 7-1 loss to No. 19 Texas Tech on Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium.

For the fourth consecutive weekend, the Wildcats (18-19, 5-9 Big 12) dropped the second game of a series after winning the opener as the Red Raiders (24-15, 8-6 Big 12) used four walks and six hits, including two home runs, to gain the early lead on K-State. Texas Tech finished the game with five extra-base hits and 11 total safeties.

Texas Tech starting pitcher Cameron Smith neutralized the K-State offense by throwing 8 1/3 shutout innings. The left-hander allowed just four hits, with half of them occurring in the first inning with two outs. Following Max Brown's bunt single in the first, Smith retired 11 straight Wildcats before a single by Dom Thornton, one of two hits by the freshman in his first career multi-hit game, snapped the stretch. Smith limited the Wildcats to one runner in scoring position after the first inning.

"[Smith] is one of the top pitchers in the league," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "When you give him a four-run lead, he was relaxed and pumping strikes in there. He didn't need four runs...but they gave him plenty of confidence. It seemed like everything we hit was a groundball, and we couldn't do much with it."

K-State starting pitcher Brandon Courville took the loss, his fourth of the year, after allowing six earned runs on four hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings. Four of the runs charged to the junior came in the first with two outs when he surrendered an RBI single to Eric Gutierrez and a three-run home run to Cory Raley. Courville threw 48 of his 80 pitches in the game during the first inning.

"We obviously got off to a bad start," said Hill. "[Courville] got to two strikes on the first hitter, but then he walked him. That kind of set the tone for the rest of Courville's outing. It also just took the air out of us."

Raley's home run was the first of two roundtrippers allowed by K-State in the game as Mitch Plassmeyer, who entered with a 2-0 count against Orlando Garcia in the third, allowed a solo homer to Texas Tech catcher Tyler Floyd to make it 7-0. Prior to Floyd's second homer of the year, Plassmeyer surrendered a two-run triple to Garcia that made it 6-0.

Plassmeyer went on to throw a career-high four innings and held Texas Tech without a baserunner for eight straight batters between the final out in the fourth and the first out in the seventh.

Kyle Halbohn made his first appearance since a start against Nebraska on April 7, relieving Plassmeyer in the seventh. The right-hander worked out of a pair of bases-loaded jams in the seventh and eighth to register 1 2/3 shutout innings of relief.

Tyler Wolfe, who started the game as K-State's shortstop and went 0-for-3 with a walk at the plate, made his Wildcat debut on the mound in the ninth and retired all three Texas Tech batters he faced.

The three Wildcat relievers combined to allow one run over 6 2/3 innings, keeping K-State's bullpen ERA below one (0.87) over the last four games.

In another first, Alex Bee hit his first career home run in the ninth off Matt Withrow to break up Texas Tech's shutout bid. The homer off the scoreboard in right field was the first for the Wildcats since Shane Conlon hit a solo shot on March 27 at No. 12 Oklahoma State.

K-State and Texas Tech will meet in the rubber match of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Wildcats have yet to announce their starting pitcher while the Red Raiders will send southpaw Dylan Dusek to the mound.


NOTES
Five of the seven Texas Tech runs on Saturday were scored with two outs. In the series opener on Friday, the Wildcats scored four of their five runs with two outs.

The loss snapped K-State's eight-game home winning streak against Texas Tech. It was the first loss for the Wildcats against the Red Raiders in Manhattan since May 9, 2009.

Max Brown's bunt single in the first extended his current on-base streak to a career-high 11 games. It is the fourth-longest on-base streak by a Wildcat this season, trailing Danny Krause's 12-game stretch for the third-highest.