Feb. 24, 2011
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Kansas State erased a three-run deficit with a four-run eighth inning to top No. 17 Coastal Carolina, 5-4, Thursday afternoon at BB&T Coastal Field in the Baseball at the Beach tournament.
The Chanticleers (3-2) grabbed two runs in the seventh inning to take a 4-1 lead, but K-State (4-0) scored three runs off reliever Keith Hessler and one off Jordan Coons (0-1), thanks in part to a pair of Coastal errors, to earn its second come-from-behind victory in the last two games.
The Wildcats are off to their best start 15 years as K-State has now started a season 4-0 for the first time since 1996.
The eighth-inning rally was started by Jake Brown, who led off the frame with a bunt single. After a pop out, pinch hitter Ryan Moore hammered a 3-2 pitch back up the box into center field to put runners on first and second with no outs. Hessler then walked Nick Martini to load the bases, chasing the CCU left-hander from the game.
Coons came on to face Jason King with one out and the junior hit a ground ball on a 0-1 pitch, but Coastal second baseman K.J. McAlister let the ball go between his legs, allowing Brown and Moore to come across and get the Cats to within a run.
Wade Hinkle followed with another ground ball, this one to shortstop Taylor Motter, whose errant throw to first got away, allowing Martini to tie the game at four while King moved to third.
The two errors proved costly as, with just one out in the inning, Mike Kindel drove a ball into right field to score King and take the lead.
“We just didn’t have any pressure outs early in the game,” head coach Brad Hill said. “All of a sudden we turn around in the seventh and eighth innings and get on top of the baseball. They are not going to make errors when there are fly balls and pop ups in the infield – those are easy outs. Ryan Moore’s two-strike hit up the middle also really swung some momentum our way and we felt like we had a chance to come back.”
Evan Marshall (2-0), who surrendered the pair of Coastal runs in the seventh, settled down in the eighth to retire the side in order before James Allen came on in the ninth to retire the side in order with two strikeouts to tally his third save this season.
Marshall earned his second win of the season after picking up the victory in the season-opening game last week. The right-hander surrendered three hits but did not issue a walk and struck out two batters.
“Evan Marshall had a rough inning, but came back and gave us a great eighth inning before James came in to finish it off,” Hill said.
Kyle Hunter kept the Cats in the game early as the Wildcat starter worked six strong innings, allowing just two runs on three hits. The left-hander also tallied a career-high tying seven strikeouts in a career-high 110 pitches.
“It boiled down to Kyle keeping us close,” said Hill. “He had a great start and gave us an opportunity.”
Kansas State was led offensively by Brown, who had two of Kansas State’s four hits in the contest. Tanner Witt and Moore had the other Wildcat base hits, while King, Hinkle and Kindel registered one RBI apiece.
Coastal Carolina wasted an impressive start from right-hander Josh Conway as he had K-State’s number in the early innings. The sophomore no-hit the Wildcats through the first 5.1 innings, which was broken up by Brown’s sixth-inning single. Conway retired the first seven batters he saw and faced the minimum through three innings, allowing an unearned run on the lone hit with two walks and five strikeouts.
The Chanticleers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Scott Woodward led the frame off with a walk, stole second base, moved to third on a ground ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Motter.
CCU grabbed another run in the fourth as Hayes Orton led off with a single and eventually came around to score on a David Bowman groundout.
K-State scratched across a run in the sixth to get within one when Martini hit a ground ball to Tripp Martin at third that was misplayed, allowing Brown to score.
Leading by a single run in the bottom of the seventh, Coastal Carolina looked to have put the game away with a pair of runs due to consecutive RBI by McAllister and Woodward, the latter being a double off the bat of the CCU center fielder.
Coastal was led offensively by Orton and Martin, who had two hits apiece.
K-State will take on Western Kentucky Friday at Watson Stadium in Conway, S.C., in the second game of the Baseball at the Beach tournament. The game, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (CT) first pitch, can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.