Feb. 15, 2013
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Sophomore right-hander Nate Williams tossed six strong innings and junior Jared King jump-started the Kansas State offense with a RBI triple in the seventh inning as the Wildcats won their season opener over High Point, 5-1, Friday afternoon in The Citadel Memorial Challenge at Riley Park.
It was the fifth-straight season-opening win by Kansas State dating back to 2009, a feat that hadn't been accomplished by the Wildcats since the 1909-13 seasons. K-State will look to start the year 2-0 for the second time in the last three seasons at 1 p.m. (CT) Saturday against The Citadel, a game that was originally scheduled for 3 p.m., but was changed due to anticipated inclement weather later on Saturday.
Williams, a relief pitcher throughout his freshman campaign, was solid in his first career start as he allowed just one run and a walk to go along with a career-best six strikeouts. With the Wildcats unable to produce any clutch hits over the first six frames, Williams kept K-State in the contest by shutting down the Panther offense after allowing a first-inning run.
The Valley Center, Kan., product forced High Point to leave the bases loaded in the second inning and strand two more in the fourth before retiring the final seven batters he faced.
"Nate did a tremendous job," head coach Brad Hill said. "He competed through the first three innings and found his rhythm and tempo in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings by getting the ball back down in the zone. He competed and continued to throw zeros up there because, offensively, we had base runners all day and couldn't cash in. That sometimes puts more pressure on the pitchers, but I thought Nate didn't worry about that before Jared's big hit got us going."
King, who went 2-for-5, got the Wildcats on the board in the seventh inning after K-State had stranded nine runners over the first six frames. Tanner Witt recorded a leadoff single to left field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. King then hammered a 2-1 pitch into the right-center field gap, a line-drive shot that one-hopped the wall for a triple, to bring home Witt and tie the game at 1-1.
With the Panther infield drawn in, Ross Kivett hit a sharp ground ball through the left side of the infield to give K-State a 2-1 lead.
That was all the momentum the Wildcats needed as relievers Jared Moore, Gerardo Esquivel and Witt shut down High Point over the final three innings, while K-State scored three insurance runs in the ninth. The trio of pitchers allowed just two hits and, coupled with Williams' outstanding finish to his afternoon, combined to retire 16 of the final 18 High Point batters.
The top four hitters in K-State's lineup each recorded multi-hit games, including a team-best 3-for-4 effort by Witt, who also scored a pair of runs. Austin Fisher hit his first-career home run just inside the right-field foul pole to lead off the ninth inning, while Jon Davis drove in the final runs of the day with a two-RBI single.
Along with the two-hit games by Witt, Shane Conlon, King and Kivett, the Wildcats also received two hits apiece from Mitch Meyer and RJ Santigate as K-State out-hit High Point, 15-7.
High Point starting pitcher Jacob Newberry worked around eight hits by pitching 5.2 scoreless innings with a walk and five strikeouts. Malcolm Clapsaddle relieved Newberry and gave up four runs on five hits in 2.1 innings of work to take the loss.
Panther shortstop Willie Medina went 4-for-5 and scored the game's first run in the first inning on a two-out RBI single by Spencer Angelis.
K-State's game against The Citadel at 1 p.m. (CT), Saturday can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN prior to coverage of the K-State women's basketball game at Oklahoma State. Fans can listen to the entirety of the contest online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.