Cats Drop Heartbreaker to Bears, 9-8

WACO, Texas Kansas State jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the first, but Baylor rallied back and Beemer Weem’s single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the eighth proved to be the game-winning hit as the Wildcats dropped the series opener to the Bears, 9-8, Friday night at Baylor Ballpark.


With the loss, Kansas State dropped to 33-20 overall and 10-14 in Big 12 play, while Baylor improved to 29-24 and 10-15. After Friday’s game, the Big 12 standings got a little tighter as the Wildcats still need one more win or a Kansas loss to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Tournament. K-State finds itself still in sixth place at 10-14 with Nebraska in fifth at 12-13 and Baylor and Oklahoma tied for seventh at 10-15. Kansas is one game behind the Cats in ninth at 9-15 and Texas Tech in 10th at 7-17.


With the scored tied at eight in the eighth inning, K-State had a prime opportunity to take the lead as it loaded the bases after two walks and a single off Baylor’s Nick Cassavechia. But, a fly out, a strikeout and a groundout ended the frame as the Cats left the bases loaded.


After the Bears took the lead on Weem’s single in the bottom half of the inning, K-State went in order in the ninth to close out the game. Cassavechia (6-1) earned the win in relief, while K-State’s Todd Vogel (3-1) suffered the loss after surrendering the winning run in the eighth.


K-State wasted no time on Friday as the Cats batted around in the first to take a 6-0 lead against Baylor starter Jeff Mandel. After Derek Bunker flied out to lead off the inning and an Adam Muenster walk and a Byron Wiley single put runners on the corners. Nate Tenbrink then reached on an error, which allowed Muenster to score, and Tyler Ruch singled to score Wiley as the Cats took a 2-0 lead. Brett Scott then drove in two runs with a double to left center to up the margin to 4-0 and singles from Eddie Vasquez and Rob Vaughn gave the Cats a 6-0 advantage.


Baylor answered with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the first as a two-run single from Dustin Dickerson off Brad Hutt scored two of the three runs. The Bears then scored one more in the second after loading the bases with no outs. Hutt got a double play ball, which allowed a run to score, for the first two outs, and a fly out to end the inning to get out of the jam with a 6-4 lead.


Vasquez’s one-out triple to right center scored another run for the Cats in the third as Scott drew a walk and scored on the Vasquez hit to up the lead back to three at 7-4 for Kansas State.


But, Baylor sent eight men to the plate in the sixth and run-scoring hits from Ben Booker and Shaver Hansen led to a four-run frame as the Bears took their first lead of the game at 8-7. Wiley then blasted his team-leading seventh homer of the season to lead off the seventh to tie the game.


K-State starter Brad Hutt gave a gutsy effort on the mound after giving up five earned runs on seven hits in 5.0 innings. Justin Murray gave up two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings, while Ben Hornbeck pitched 1.1 shutout innings.


Kansas State and Baylor continue play in the series Saturday with a 6:30 p.m. game two at Baylor Ballpark.