Wildcats Slug Their Way Past Washington State, 9-6

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State and Washington State combined to hit a total of seven home runs, but the Wildcats had the upper hand as they hit four of the seven en route to a 9-6 victory over the Cougars Tuesday night at Tointon Family Stadium. With the win, Kansas State gets above .500 for the first time this season at 7-6, while Washington State drops to 10-3.

 

Freshman Carter Jurica hit the first and second home runs of his young career in his first two at-bats, both going over the leftfield wall. It was the first time a Wildcat hit two home runs in the same game since Byron Wiley had a pair against James Madison on Feb. 25, 2007. Justin Bloxom and Drew Biery each hit their second home runs of the season. The four K-State homers were the most in a single game since the Cats hit five at South Dakota State on May 17, 2006.

 

Biery went 2-for-2 with a season-high four RBI. Dane Yelovich was 3-for-5 to push his season average to .400, while Bloxom and Jurica each went 2-for-4 with two RBI.

 

Thomas Rooke (2-0) took the win in relief for K-State after throwing 1.2 innings of no-hit ball, striking out three of the four batters he faced. Cougar starter Michael Ratigan (3-1) took the loss in his first start of the season. Six Kansas State pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts, led by reliever Scott Bachman who fanned four Cougars. It was the most punch outs by the Wildcat pitching staff this season and the third time this year the Cats have struck out 10 or more in a game.

 

Wildcats closer Daniel Edwards picked up the save, his fourth of the season and 18th of his career. He is now tied for the school career record with David Johnson, who also had 18 saves from 1994-97.

 

Kansas State got on the board in the first inning, plating three runs on just two hits. Yelovich used his speed as he led the game off with a bunt single and then stole second base to get into scoring position. Jordan Cruz walked and each runner moved up as Nate Tenbrink reached on an error. Three pitches later, another Washington State error off the bat of Bloxom scored Yelovich and kept the bases full. Biery drove in his first two RBI on the evening with a single to center, scoring both Cruz and Tenbrink.

 

Both teams plated one run in the second inning, each by the way of solo homer. Jared Prince hit the third pitch he saw over the right centerfield wall to lead off the inning, but the Cougars were shutdown the rest of the way by Vogel. In the bottom of the inning, Jurica pulled a 3-2 pitch down the leftfield line, which went over the wall just inside the foul pole for both his first home run and RBI of the season.

 

Washington State tied the game with three runs in the top of the third. Travis Coulter led the inning off with a single up the middle on the first pitch. Two batters later, Paul Gran homered to right centerfield to get WSU within one run at 4-3. The one-run deficit wouldn’t last long as Jim Murphy made it back-to-back home runs with his shot to right to tie the game at four apiece.

 

Kansas State broke open the game in the third and fourth innings as the derby continued. In the bottom of the third, Bloxom hit a one-out, solo homer to right for his second homer of the season, while Jurica hammered the first pitch he saw in the fourth over the trees beyond the left field wall, giving him home runs in back-to-back at bats, and lifting the Cats to a 6-3 lead.

 

The Cats scratched across another three runs in the fifth, all coming with two outs in the inning. Bloxom recorded his second hit of the day with a single through the right side and Biery followed with a two-RBI homer to left center. Jason King continued the two-out hitting barrage with a single up the middle and then scored on a Rob Vaughn double to left centerfield, which gave the Cats a five-run lead they would never relinquish.

 

Kansas State opens up the conference season this weekend as the Wildcats host Nebraska, Friday-Sunday, March 14-16. First pitch Friday is set for 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium.