March 17, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M starting pitcher Ross Stripling threw a complete game and limited Kansas State to just six hits, while first baseman Jacob House drove in four runs as the eighth-ranked Aggies evened the opening Big 12 series with a 9-2 win Saturday at Blue Bell Park.
The Aggies improved to 15-5 on the year with the win. K-State fell to 12-7 overall, snapping a seven-game winning streak.
K-State jumped ahead 2-0 in the third inning on a Jared King home run to right field, his third of the season and second of the road trip. However, the homer seemed to make Stripling (3-0) lock in as he went on to retire 17 of the next 18 batters as the only Wildcat to reach base was on an error off the bat of Wade Hinkle in the sixth inning. Hinkle came back in the eighth to record the first K-State hit since King’s homer with a two-out double, but at that point Texas A&M had built an 8-2 lead.
Following the double, Stripling recorded a pop out to end the eighth before receiving a double play and striking out the final batter to finish off the game. He became the second pitcher to throw a complete game against the Wildcats this season as he surrendered just six hits with a pair of walks and eight strikeouts.
“He really confused us,” head coach Brad Hill said of Stripling. “He was going back-to-back with both his breaking ball and changeup. You don’t see that very often. He broke down our swings completely today. We didn’t pressure as much. I felt like when House hit the three-run home run, we deflated a little bit. After the three-run homer, Joe (Flattery) was very tentative. We need him to be aggressive right there.
“We’re still trying to get some new guys going. We have a lot of new guys trying to play through some things and these are new experiences for them in pressure situations. We’ll get better out of it.”
House led the Aggies by going 2-for-4 with four RBI, and the first baseman jump-started the Texas A&M offense with his three-run homer in the third inning. He came back with a run-scoring single as part of a three-run seventh inning that also featured a two-run homer to left field by Brandon Wood. Wood finished the game 2-for-3, while Texas A&M also received multi-hit games from leadoff man Mikey Reynolds and No. 9 hitter Scott Arthur.
Wildcat starting pitcher Joe Flattery (3-2) suffered his first loss in four starts after allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits with three walks and one strikeout.
Sophomore right-hander Gerardo Esquivel allowed four runs in 2.1 innings, but kept Kansas State in the game in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Esquivel allowed a RBI single to Arthur to make the score 5-2. With the Aggies one base hit away from breaking the game open, Esquivel caught a line drive and induced an inning-ending ground ball to keep the deficit at three.
King was the only Wildcat to record a multi-hit game as he singled in the first inning before his two-run homer in the third. The center fielder led the Big 12 in hitting entering Saturday with a .446 batting average, and he begins the final game of the first conference series with a .449 average after going 2-for-4.
Hinkle, who is now riding a six-game hitting streak, has reached base safely in every contest this season.
The rubber match between Kansas State and Texas A&M is set for a 1:05 p.m., first pitch on Sunday at Blue Bell Park. K-State is expected to start right-hander Kayvon Bahramzadeh, while Texas A&M will counter with righty Rafael Pineda. The game will be broadcast in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, as well as online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.