Wildcat Rally Falls Short Friday Night

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State rallied in the bottom of the ninth and had the winning run at first base but Derek Bunker’s liner to short ended the threat and left the bases loaded as No. 11 Texas A&M held on for a 4-2 win Friday night in a well-pitched series opener at Tointon Stadium. The loss snapped Kansas State’s five-game winning streak and dropped the Wildcats to 31-18 overall and 9-12 in Big 12 play, while the Aggies improved to 39-11 and 12-9.


In a game where starting pitchers Kyle Nicholson and Brad Hutt each tossed complete games, the Wildcats found themselves with a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.


Down 4-1, Nate Tenbrink led things off with a single to left before Tyler Ruch then reached on a fielder’s choice as Tenbrink was forced out at second. Eli Rumler then beat out an infield single to first and Jordan Cruz followed with a walk to load the bases. After Eddie Vasquez struck out looking for the second out, Rob Vaughn was hit by a pitch to score Tenbrink and cut the lead to 4-2. Bunker then lined out on a 2-1 pitch to end the game.


Nicholson (11-1) and Hutt (8-4) both pitched well enough to earn the win as both struck out nine batters in 9.0 innings, while Nicholson walked two to Hutt’s one. Three of Hutt’s four runs surrendered were earned on the night as the Wildcat junior scattered eight hits on the night.


The Aggies jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two as a leadoff single from Brandon Hicks got things going in the first. Then, Hicks stole second and came all the way around to score as catcher Rob Vaughn’s throw went into center to allow Hicks to go to third and centerfielder Byron Wiley bobbled the ball to allow Hicks to plate the game’s first run. Kyle Colligan’s two-run homer in the second after a walk then pushed the lead to 3-0.


The Wildcats got on the board and cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Wiley sent a Kyle Nicholson fastball over the wall in right and on top of the Brandeberry Indoor Complex for his sixth home run of the season.


The Aggies pushed across an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Colligan doubled down the line in left and moved to third on a wild pitch. Then, with one out, Dane Carter grounded out to short on a ball that glanced off Hutt’s glove to score Colligan and make the score 4-1.


K-State remains in sixth place in the league standings following Friday’s game, but a Baylor (9-13) win and an Oklahoma (9-13) loss on Friday trimmed the margin between sixth and eighth place to just a half a game. Texas Tech (7-14) remains in ninth place and Kansas (8-15) in 10th after Friday’s action.


Kansas State and Texas A&M continue play Saturday with a 6:30 p.m. matchup at Tointon Stadium.