March 2, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Pacific pitchers Michael Benson and John Prato Matthews combined to shut out Kansas State over the final six innings as the Wildcats fell in their 2012 home opener, 7-2, Friday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Tigers improved to 2-8 on the season, while the Wildcats fell to 3-5. It was K-State’s first home-opening loss since dropping an 8-3 affair to Le Moyne 2008.
The Wildcats received a two-out RBI single from Wade Hinkle in the first inning and scored a run on a two-out error in the third, but K-State could never get a timely hit against Benson (1-1) after putting runners in scoring position in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Benson totaled seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits with only one walk and five strikeouts in 98 pitches. Prato Matthews surrendered just one hit over the final two innings with two strikeouts as he picked up his first save of the year.
“Their kid did a great job,” head coach Brad Hill said of Benson. “He did what he had to do and only had one walk today. He did a good job of getting us to swing at pitches out of the zone. You have to give him some credit for that.”
Pacific was led at the plate by Allen Riley, who went 3-for-5 with two RBI, including a first-inning solo home run. Brett Christopher, who hit a solo homer in the third, added two hits, along with Dustin Torchio. Erik Lockwood, who pinch-hit in the fifth inning, drove in two runs.
K-State trailed by one at 3-2 in the fifth inning when the Tigers recorded a single and a double to lead off the frame against K-State starter Matt Applegate (0-2). The Wildcats quickly went to the bullpen to bring in left-hander Shane Conlon, who allowed two RBI ground outs to put Pacific up by three at 5-2.
That’s all that Benson needed as he worked around a one-out double in the fifth, a leadoff single and a two-out hit-by-pitch in the sixth, and a two-out double in the seventh before giving way to Prato Matthews.
For his second-consecutive start, Applegate allowed five runs on six hits in a losing effort. The right-hander went just four innings on Friday, walking four and striking out four.
The Wildcats recorded six hits in the contest, with Hinkle producing the only K-State RBI in the first inning. A two-out error in the third by Pacific shortstop Josh Simms on a ground ball by Jared King proved to be the final K-State run.
“We just had a real hard time relaxing,” Hill said. “We played like it was the first game of the year. There were a lot of tight swings. We just didn’t settle down, relax and play well today.”
The Wildcats and Tigers continue their three-game weekend series on Saturday with a 2 p.m., contest at Tointon Family Stadium. K-State will start junior left-handed pitcher Joe Flattery, while Pacific is expected to start left-hander John Haberman. Fans can see the game on K-StateHD.TV, while free live audio will be available at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
Saturday’s game is part of a Wildcat Weekend as the K-State men’s basketball team takes on Oklahoma State at 12:30 p.m., at Bramlage Coliseum, while the women’s basketball team hosts Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Fans can receive $3 general admission bench tickets to Saturday’s baseball game when they show their men’s or women’s basketball ticket. Tickets are available online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office prior to the game.