Wildcats Bounce Back, Shut Out Minnesota 9-0

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Five Wildcat pitchers combined for K-State's third shutout of the season as the Wildcats bounced back with a 9-0 win at Minnesota on Wednesday to split the two-game series at Siebert Field.

After being shut out 5-0 the night before, K-State (21-23) recorded its first shutout in a true road game this season behind the lead of starting pitcher Brandon Erickson. The right-hander earned his second win of the season after scattering two hits and striking out two in 3 1/3 innings against the Golden Gophers (19-22). Jackson Douglas, Brandon Courville, Kyle Halbohn and Tyler Wolfe each logged an inning or more out of the bullpen.

"The pitching staff was the name of the game today," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "Erickson had a good bounce-back start. From there, we just continued that string of zeroes (on the scoreboard). A lot of credit goes to our pitching staff."

The K-State offense, after registering just one hit in the first game of the series, notched 10 hits for its 17th game this year with double-digit safeties. Steve Serratore hit his first career home run, a two-run blast in the ninth, to help make up his two hits and career-high three RBIs. Max Brown matched Serratore for the team lead in hits with two as the senior went 2-for-4 with a pair of two-out singles.

The Wildcats' sixth through ninth hitters in their lineup drove in five of the nine runs, with four RBIs registered off sacrifice flies. The first sacrifice fly was by No. 7 hitter Tyler Moore that capped K-State's four-run first inning. In the sixth, Sam Chadick and Jake Wodtke hit back-to-back sac flies to make it 6-0 while Keith Browning, pinch hitting in the eighth, plated Moore with the final sacrifice fly to extend the Wildcats' lead to 7-0.

K-State had its first six hitters of the opening frame reach base safely off Minnesota starting pitcher Reggie Meyer, who took the loss after surrendering four runs in 1/3 of an inning. Wolfe and Serratore produced RBI singles to ignite the crooked first, preceding the RBIs by Bee and Moore.

"(Meyer) had trouble with his command, so we got some help in the first," said Hill. "We had some guys that did not get over-amped, with (Serratore) and the big hit keeping the rally going early in that inning. After that, it was a good job by the guys with plate discipline, not leaving the zone and making sure to get some runs up on the board."

The Wildcats put a runner on base in each of the nine frames, including four times with the leadoff batter. Bee's leadoff double in the sixth resulted in a run on the sac fly by Chadick while Moore's first career triple to start the eighth was cashed in on Browning's sacrifice fly.

The home run by Serratore was the sixth roundtripper by K-State this season and second in a true road game. The first home run on the road was by Shane Conlon at Oklahoma State on March 27.

Four of the five Wildcat pitchers had two strikeouts in their appearances. Courville struck out two of the four batters he faced in his 1 1/3 innings pitched.

The Wildcats will play in their final non-conference series of the season this weekend when they return home to face Arkansas State. The series opener is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The last time K-State shut out an opponent in a true road game was on March 23, 2014 at No. 30 Oklahoma. This season, the Wildcats blanked Pitt in Port Charlotte, Florida on February 14 and Missouri State on March 13.

Tyler Wolfe, who has started every game this year at shortstop, pitched for the second time in a Wildcat uniform. The junior has not allowed a run or a hit in two innings pitched.

The Wildcat bullpen has a 1.78 ERA (5er, 25.1ip) with a .213 batting average against in the last five games. Of the nine relievers used over the stretch, six have not surrendered a run.