March 2, 2013
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State's Nate Williams surrendered only one earned run in a career-long 7.2 innings pitched as he led the Wildcats to a 4-2 victory over Oakland Saturday afternoon in K-State's home opener at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats, who improved to 4-3 on the season, won their seventh home opener in head coach Brad Hill's 10 years at the helm. The Grizzlies fell to 0-5 with the loss.
Williams, who allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out five, no-hit Oakland through the first 5.2 innings as he retired 17 of the first 20 batters he faced.
In the sixth, Williams allowed a one-out walk and, after a ground out, gave up his first hit of the game, a RBI single by Mike Carson to make the score 3-1. Williams forced a ground out to get out of the inning and continued his dominance with a perfect seventh inning.
"I thought we pitched it really well," head coach Brad Hill said. "The walk came back to bite Nate, but he didn't have many of those. When you don't have a lot of walks, you're not going to put yourself in a lot of bad situations. He's a competitor. He did what he had to do. He got a lot of ground balls today, and that's Nate Williams."
Williams now has three-straight quality starts to begin the year, combining to limit High Point, Coastal Carolina and Oakland to just three earned runs over 20 innings, good for a 1.35 ERA.
The outing by Williams was important for K-State as the Wildcats stranded 11 runners on base - tying a season high - and left the bases loaded on two occasions.
"Offensively, we just can't put people away," Hill said. "You can't leave as many as we left on base today. We got 10 hits, and 10 hits to me is seven or eight runs. We're not being productive offensively and getting the big hits."
Senior Tanner Witt, who picked up his second save of the year with a scoreless ninth inning, led the Wildcats offensively by tying his career high with three hits. RJ Santigate also recorded a two-hit game, while Shane Conlon extended his hitting streak to seven games.
K-State scored the game's first run in the first inning when Conlon drove in Witt from second base on a single to right field. In the fourth, Santigate hit a leadoff double to left-center field, and he came around to score when Austin Fisher singled to right. Following a Witt double, Fisher scored on a Conlon ground out to make the score 3-0.
After Oakland's run in the sixth inning, the Wildcats extended their lead back to three thanks to a pair of errors in the seventh. Jon Davis led off the frame with a fly ball to left-center field, which was dropped by left-fielder Todd Dunham. Following a strikeout and a foul out, Blair DeBord hit a ground ball to Carson at third base, who short-armed a throw to first as Davis came in to score.
K-State returned the favor in the eighth when Connor Mielock reached on a leadoff error by Fisher. Following a double that put runners on second and third, Kyle Bobolts drove in Mielock on a ground out.
The Grizzlies looked to get more in the frame when Williams hit Carson, but Jared Moore came out of the bullpen and forced an inning-ending ground out to keep the K-State lead at two.
Oakland starting pitcher Jason Hager suffered his first loss of the year despite allowing just three runs on nine hits in six innings. Aside from driving in the Grizzlies' run in the sixth inning and being hit by a pitch in the eighth, Carson also worked a pair of walks.
Kansas State concludes its series against Oakland with a doubleheader Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium. First pitch for the twin bill is set for 12 p.m. Fans can order tickets online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office prior to the game.
Both games of Sunday's doubleheader can be seen online on K-StateHD.TV. Subscriptions are priced at $9.95 per month and $79.95 per year. Both games can also be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN or online (for free) at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.