K-State Comeback Falls Short in Rubber Match

Ross Kivett

May 8, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State spotted Missouri five second-inning runs and couldn’t climb out of the hole as the Tigers won the rubber match of the series with a 12-8 victory Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.

Missouri, which has won seven-straight series over the Wildcats, improved to 21-27 overall and 8-12 in Big 12 play. K-State fell to 28-20 on the year and 9-14 in conference action.

Missouri jumped out to 5-0 lead on a pair of home runs in the second inning against K-State starter Shane Conlon (2-1). Blake Brown homered to left-center field to make the score 2-0 and Conner Mach capped the inning with a three-run shot off the left-field foul pole. 

K-State chipped away with two runs in its half of the second on a RBI double by Tanner Witt and a run-scoring single by Chase Graskewicz. In the third, Jason King doubled to score Nick Martini, and Witt came back with a RBI single to cut MU's lead to 5-4.

Trailing 6-4 in the sixth, the Cats opened the inning by drawing two walks. On a sacrifice bunt by Graskewicz, MU third baseman Dillon Everett threw wildly to first, allowing Graskewicz to reach safely and a run to score.

Looking to tie or take the lead with runners at first and third and no outs, Jake Brown hit a hard grounder back at Missouri pitcher Phil McCormick. McCormick caught Witt hung up between third base and home before making the out. During the rundown on Witt, Graskewicz tried to advance to third and was tagged out in another rundown. The Wildcat threat ended when Ross Kivett grounded out and Missouri maintained a 6-5 edge.

The Tigers took advantage of the momentum and plated three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to put the game away.

“They jumped up with the five spot, but I give our kids credit for bouncing back,” head coach Brad Hill said. “I thought we competed well. Unfortunately, we had base running errors that really hurt us in the sixth before they came back with back-to-back three-run innings. When they scored the three in the seventh, it became very difficult. We didn’t check it in though. We had kids get hit by a pitch, and we were one hit away from making it a two- or three-run game and didn’t get it.”

Dusty Ross (3-4) earned the win in relief. The right-hander allowed one hit with a walk and two strikeouts. McCormick picked up his second save of the series by throwing the final 4.1 innings with three walks and a strikeout.

Missouri pounded 16 hits, including three doubles and three home runs. Mach and Blake Brown paced the Tigers with three RBI apiece.

The Cats received two-hit games from Kivett, Martini, Jared King and Witt. King hit his seventh home run of the season and his fifth in the last seven games with a solo homer in the ninth.

The next action for Kansas State is a three-game series against New Orleans beginning at 6:30 p.m., Friday at Tointon Family Stadium. Tickets are available through the K-State Athletics Ticket office by calling 1-800-221-CATS, logging on to www.k-statesports.com/tickets or by visiting the office inside Bramlage Coliseum.