K-State Completes Sweep with 5-3 Win

LINCOLN, Neb. Kansas State finished off a historic sweep of Nebraska on Saturday as the Wildcats defeated the Huskers, 5-3, at Hawks Field. With the win, K-State improved to 24-8 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 play, while Nebraska fell to 16-14-1 and 4-8 in conference action.

 

The victory provided the Wildcats’ first three-game sweep over Nebraska since 1974. It was also the first time the Huskers had been swept at home since 1997, including the first in the eight-year existence of Hawks Field.

 

Adam Muenster, Justin Bloxom and Jason King each went 2-for-4 and combined to drive in four of the Wildcats’ five runs. Bloxom led the way with two RBI for his team-best 11th multi-RBI game of the season. King, who came into the weekend with no triples in the first 84 games of his career, hit his second of the series.

 

The win was credited to senior pitcher Todd Vogel, who threw 3.1 innings in a predetermined start. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits, did not issue a walk and struck out three batters. Sophomore lefty Thomas Rooke allowed two runs in 4.1 innings of relief, but put an end to a Nebraska threat in the fourth that set the tone for the rest of the game.

 

Freshman closer James Allen recorded his fifth save of the season and his second of the series as he allowed one hit and struck out one in the ninth inning.

 

Nebraska’s Casey Hauptman (2-2) took the loss as he surrendered three earned runs all of which came in the first inning on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

 

Just as it did to start Friday’s double-header, Kansas State tallied a multi-run inning in the first frame of the game. The first three Wildcat batters Muenster, Carter Jurica and Nick Martini loaded the bases on a single up the middle, a walk and a bunt single. Bloxom laced a single into center field to score Muenster and when center fielder D.J. Belfonte bobbled the ball, Jurica came around to score.

 

King followed by hitting an 0-2 pitch back up the middle to score Martini and give the Cats a quick 3-0 lead.

 

Hauptman settled down and retired 18 of the next 19 Wildcat hitters to keep Nebraska in the game, and his offensive mates responded with two runs over the fourth and fifth innings. The Huskers produced three straight one-out singles in the fourth, the latter by Jeff Tezak, to score one run and knock Vogel out of the game. Rooke came in and forced a ground out and struck out Boomer Collins to minimize the damage and keep the game 3-1.

 

Cody Neer led off the Husker fifth with a double down the left field line, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a Kyle Bubak sacrifice fly to get NU within 3-2.

 

Hauptman retired his 11th-straight batter for the first out of the seventh before Rob Vaughn reached on an error by Husker third baseman Jake Mort. Vaughn moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Dane Yelovich, who would be the final batter for Hauptman. Eric Bird came on in relief to face Muenster, who gave the Wildcats some insurance on a single into center field to score Vaughn and build the lead to 4-2.

 

The Cats put up another run in the eighth when Bloxom blasted a solo-home run to right field against a howling wind. The homer was the first by either team in the series.

 

Nebraska closed the gap as it scored a run in the eighth inning when Bubak walked with one out and came around on Adam Bailey's single up the middle to make the score 5-3.

 

The Huskers made it interesting in the ninth as Collins was hit by a pitch from Allen with two outs followed by an infield single from Neer, putting the tying runs on base. But Allen struck out pitch-hitter Cade Thompson to preserve the sweep.

 

Nebraska, just like K-State, also had a trio of players go 2-for-4, including Bailey, who drove in one run.

 

The Wildcats’ next action is a home conference series against Texas A&M, beginning Thursday, April 9, at Tointon Family Stadium. Thursday is Quarter Hot Dog Night at the stadium, while it’s also a Triple Play Weekend. Fans who purchase tickets to Thursday’s and Friday’s game will receive free admission to Saturday’s series finale. Please check www.k-statesports.com for more details.