March 9, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. – An eight-run fifth inning that featured home runs by seniors Matt Giller and Jake Brown sent Kansas State to a 14-3 victory over Hartford Friday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats, who moved to 6-6 on the season, turned a 5-2 game into an 11-run lead after sending 12 men to the plate in the fifth. The eight-run frame tied K-State’s biggest inning of the season as it also scored eight in the third inning against San Diego State on February 25. Hartford fell to 1-7 with the loss.
Kansas State pounded out 18 hits in the contest, the second most this season after the Cats recorded 21 against the Aztecs. It marked the eighth time this year K-State has hit the double-digit mark in hits, including in six of its last seven games.
Giller led the way for the Wildcats with his 3-for-5 outing and a career-high tying four RBI. He drove in three of his runs on the homer, which was his first round-tripper since April 28, 2010, against Chicago State. Giller also had four RBI in that contest against the Cougars, while he first reached the four-RBI plateau earlier in 2010 against Nebraska.
Brown’s only hit was his fifth-inning homer, a two-run shot over the right-field wall. He also had a run-scoring ground out the inning prior for a total of three RBI on the afternoon.
“I thought we had a really good approach today,” head coach Brad Hill said. “The guys were really directed toward the middle of the field, which is really important to us.”
Senior right-hander Matt Applegate (1-2) picked up his first win of the season after allowing a pair of unearned runs on seven hits with a walk and a season high seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Gerardo Esquivel came on to pitch the final three innings to earn his first career save, allowing a run on three hits with a career-best six strikeouts.
“He threw too many pitches,” Hill said of Applegate. “He needs to continue to try to get in the zone and end at-bats in three or four pitches. He’s a work-in-progress right now, but he was better today. He was more relaxed on the mound.”
Kansas State received two-hit games from six players, including Jared King, Mike Kindel and Wade Hinkle, who each extended hitting streaks. King and Kindel recorded their career-long hitting streaks at nine and seven games, respectively, while Hinkle tied his career-long streak at seven games.
Brett Kauten also notched a career day for the Wildcats as he collected two doubles and three RBI. Blair DeBord registered his fourth multi-RBI game of the season with two RBI.
After DeBord and Hinkle produced two runs in the first on a single and a sacrifice fly, respectively, Hartford scored in the third on a RBI groundout by Simon Kudernatsch.
K-State put three more on the board in the third, thanks to a Kauten two-run double and Brown’s run-scoring ground out. But Hartford came right back with a run in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to three.
The Wildcat fifth began with a single and a walk before DeBord hit a sacrifice fly to center field. After another single put runners on the corners with one out, Giller hammered a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left-center field to put K-State up 9-3 and knock Hartford starter Mike Thatcher (0-2) out of the game.
Charlie Moran came on in relief and was greeted with consecutive doubles by Kindel and Kauten to score one run. Brown was next and pulled a pitch over the right-field wall for his two-run shot before a King RBI single completed the eight-run frame.
The Hawks were paced at the plate by Trey Stover, who was 3-for-5, and James Alfonso, who went 2-for-4.
Kansas State and Hartford continue their weekend series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. Fans can watch both games on K-StateHD.TV, while the contest will be broadcast in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
To order tickets, contact the K-State Athletics Ticket office 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 doubleheader.