K-State Falls Late to Houston, 3-2

HOUSTON, Texas Kansas State held a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Houston came back with single runs in the ninth and 10th to win 3-2 and salvage the final game of the series Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field.

Kansas State still won the series two games to one, but fell short of recording its first opening-series sweep since 1984.

The Wildcats (2-1) looked as though they were well on their way to the sweep as the Cougars (1-2) were down to their final two outs of the game. However K-State reliever Thomas Rooke (0-1) gave up a solo home run to Blake Kelso to send the game into extra innings.

Kansas State missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 10th inning after back-to-back one-out singles by Drew Biery and Nick Martini put runners on first and third. The next batter, Rob Vaughn, attempted a safety squeeze to score Adam Muenster, who came into the game to pinch run for Biery. But Houston pitcher Chase Dempsay (1-0) fielded the bunt and threw to his catcher, John Cannon, who tagged Muenster out at the plate. Mike Kindel followed with a strikeout to end the scoring chance for the Wildcats.

K-State freshman pitcher Evan Marshall came out of the bullpen to start the bottom of the 10th and got his first man out on a fly ball to center field before giving up a single to Zak Presley. Following a groundout and an intentional walk, Houston brought in Matt Murphy to pinch hit. Murphy hit a ball through the right side of the infield and Jordan Cruz’s throw home was not in time as the Cougars picked up their first win of the season.

Dempsay, who started the game as the designated hitter, came on in relief to pick up his first win of the season. The right hander threw 3.2 scoreless innings, while allowing just three Wildcat hits, one walk and five strikeouts.

Four Houston hitters each recorded two hits apiece, including Kelso, who had one RBI.

The Wildcats were led at the plate by Carter Jurica, who went 3-for-4 with one run scored. Jason King, Biery and Vaughn each recorded two hit games, while King and Dane Yelovich recorded the two Wildcat RBI of the game.

Kansas State was unable to reward a great relief appearance by freshman reliever Kyle Hunter, who was excellent in his first collegiate appearance. The lefty gave K-State 2.2 scoreless innings as he allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out three, and set up for the win before Houston tied the game.

Houston got to K-State starter Ryan Daniel, who avoided trouble in the first three innings, with a run in the fourth. Chris Wallace led the frame off with a double and was sacrificed over to third before David Murphy brought him home with a double down the left field line to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

Daniel was able to settled down and strikeout William Kankel before he gave way to Hunter. The freshman proceeded to load the bases with a hit by pitch and a walk but struck out Taylor White on a full count to leave the bases loaded and the deficit at one.

After missing out on scoring chances in both the second and third innings, Kansas State finally broke through with single runs in the fifth and sixth. The Wildcats tied the game when Biery reached on an error to begin the fifth and advanced to second on a one-out single by Vaughn. Following another strikeout, Yelovich hit a 1-0 pitch into left field to bring home Biery and tie the game at one apiece.

Jurica led off the sixth inning with a single through the left side of the infield on a 0-2 pitch. Following a strikeout, King drove a ball into deep center field to score Jurica from first and give the Cats their first lead of the game at 2-1.

Next action for Kansas State is the University of San Diego Tournament, February 26-March 1, in San Diego, Calif.