Feb. 17, 2013
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Kansas State spotted George Mason six runs over the first four innings, but the bullpen held strong and allowed the Wildcat offense to come back with three seventh-inning runs for a 7-6 victory Sunday in The Citadel Memorial Challenge at Riley Park.
Relievers Hayden Nixon, Jake Matthys and Tanner Witt shut down the Patriots over the final five frames and Jon Davis' two-run homer sparked the seventh-inning rally as the Cats finished the opening weekend with a 2-1 record. George Mason fell to 0-3.
The Wildcats fell behind early for the second-straight day. George Mason scored one run in both the first and third innings, then exploded for four in the fourth off right-hander Matt Wivinis to grab a 6-3 lead.
Wivinis, who recorded a career-high tying seven strikeouts, was pulled in favor of Nixon after the fourth inning. The freshman left-hander escaped trouble in the fifth and got two quick outs in the sixth before allowing a pair of base runners.
Matthys (1-0) then got the call, coming into a pressure situation in his first career appearance. He induced a grounder to end the threat, then retired six of the next eight batters. He perserved K-State's lead by successfully working out of another jam in the eighth when the Patriots put runners at first and third with two outs. Witt, who serves as the Wildcats' left fielder and closer, struck out the side in the ninth for his first career save.
"It was all about the bullpen today," head coach Brad Hill said. "If what happened yesterday happens today with those one-run innings, I'm not sure we catch up. Those five zeros were really big. I thought Nixon was good, Matthys was great and Tanner was phenomenal."
The work by Nixon and Matthys allowed the Wildcat offense to stage its comeback. Trailing 6-3, K-State scored a run in the fifth inning on a full-count, two-out single to left field by Blair DeBord, which scored Davis from second base.
The Wildcats roughed up George Mason reliever Neight Hoffa (0-1) in the seventh. Ross Kivett walked to begin the inning before Davis, batting from the left side, drove an outside fastball down the left-field line that cleared the wall just inside the foul pole to tie the game at 6-6.
Hoffa recorded consecutive fly-ball outs but then hit Debord with a pitch to extend the frame. Debord stole second before Austin Fisher laced a full-count, two-out single into center field for the go-ahead run.
"We didn't give up offensively," Hill said. "A competitive walk by Ross Kivett was followed by Jon Davis getting his first left-handed hit. Austin Fisher gives us a big two-out RBI. We had some big hits late, while pitching was the name of the game early on."
Matthys earned the win in his first collegiate outing by working 2.1 scoreless innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Nixon and Witt also recorded three strikeouts apiece, giving the Wildcat hurlers 15 punch outs, the most since March 11, 2011, against Long Island.
Davis led the Wildcat offense with three hits and scored three runs to go along with two RBI on his second-career homer. Shane Conlon recorded his third-straight two-hit game to open the 2013 campaign.
George Mason had five players record two-hit games in Nick Allen, Blaise Fernandez, Duncan Satherline, Ray Toto and Nick Foley. Fernandez drove home a run in the first, while Allen and Foley each tripled in the four-run fourth.
Kansas State will return to South Carolina next weekend to take part in the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Myrtle Beach. The Wildcats face Coastal Carolina at 3 p.m. (CT) Friday then play Elon and Kentucky to finish out the weekend.
The Wildcats open their 31-game home schedule with a three-game series against Oakland March 1-3. Season tickets remain available for as little as $75, while single-game tickets go on sale Monday. Fans can order tickets online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or in person at the K-State Athletics Ticket office inside Bramlage Coliseum.