Hill Garners Win No. 600 as Cats Top UND

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State broke open a tight game with six runs in the eighth inning, propelling head coach Brad Hill to his 600th-career victory as the 16th-ranked Wildcats downed North Dakota, 10-2, Tuesday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.


The Wildcats improved to 32-11-1 this season, just three victories shy of tying K-State's single-season school record. The Fighting Sioux fell to 10-24 overall in their first transition year into the Division I ranks.


Holding a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, the Cats plated six runs on five hits to put away the game. Jordan Cruz led off the frame with a walk before back-to-back singles by Rob Vaughn and Dane Yelovich produced a run. Adam Muenster followed with his second triple in as many games, driving in two more runs and he scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to 8-2.


Following another walk to Carter Jurica, consecutive doubles from Nick Martini and Justin Bloxom drove in a pair of runs and capped the scoring.


“There were some emotional games down in Texas and I thought our kids hung in there good tonight,” Hill said. “They competed hard and North Dakota did a good job tonight. We just sustained it and broke it open late. This was a pretty tough battle and I thought our kids competed pretty well tonight.”


Five different K-State hitters recorded multi-hit games, including Muenster and Bloxom, who each went 3-for-5. Bloxom paced the Cats with three RBI, while Jurica tallied his 17th and 18th stolen bases this season.


Freshman pitcher Kyle Hunter (1-2) recorded his first career win in a predetermined pitch-count start, allowing one run on three hits with a career-high five strikeouts in four innings of work. The left-hander started the game on fire, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced.


Mark Joukoff and Thomas Rooke combined to allow one run on three hits with six strikeouts to close out the final five innings of the game.


“Our pitchers threw outstanding tonight,” Hill added. “I thought Hunter did a nice job and Joukoff did a really good job throwing strikes.”


The Wildcats scored the first run of the game in the second inning when Vaughn singled to left field, scoring Drew Biery from second base.


A towering two-run homer in the third inning by Bloxom gave the Cats a 3-0 lead.


North Dakota’s Aaron Cook injected life into the Fighting Sioux in the fourth inning when he singled through the left side of the infield to bring home Jake Magner. In the fifth, UND scored a run on a fielder’s choice by Andy Sadler to cut the deficit to 3-2.


Following a scoreless sixth, Kansas State answered with an unearned run in the seventh inning as Muenster reached on an error, moved to second on a passed ball, stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by Martini.


Kansas State concludes its two-game homestand against North Dakota with a 6:30 p.m., first pitch Wednesday at Tointon Family Stadium.