March 19, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas - Kansas State took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but a bases-loaded walk tied the contest and Texas duplicated the feat an inning later as the Longhorns earned a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in 10 innings Saturday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
With the win, Texas improved to 14-5 overall and 2-0 in conference play en route to winning the series. K-State fell to 12-6 overall and 0-2 in conference action, while the Cats have has lost four of their last five contests.
K-State scored three times in the third inning to take its first lead of the series, 3-1. The Longhorns grabbed a run in the sixth but were shutout by relievers Tyler Sturges and Evan Marshall to hand the game over to James Allen (1-1) as he attempted to earn his sixth save of the season.
Texas centerfielder Cohl Walla was hit in the head to lead off the ninth on Allen's fourth pitch of the at-bat. The right-hander, who had not issued a walk or a hit batter in his previous eight outings, could not recover as he walked three-straight Longhorns to tie the contest at three apiece.
After the RBI walk, Texas had the winning run at third base with still an out to play with, but Allen struck out Brandon Loy and forced Mark Payton to line out to keep the Wildcats alive.
Longhorn closer Corey Knebel (2-1), who earned the save on Friday night, sat down K-State in order in the 10th to quickly send his offense back to the plate. UT freshman Erich Weiss responded to Knebel in the bottom half by slamming a double off the right-field wall to put the winning run in scoring position.
After a sacrifice bunt moved Weiss to third, K-State elected to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases and set up a force out at home. The Wildcats went to the bullpen to bring on Gerardo Esquivel and the redshirt freshman struck out Tant Shepherd for the second out. Esquivel then fell behind 3-0 in the count to pinch hitter Kevin Lusson before delivering a strike, but Esquivel's fifth pitch of the at-bat missed the zone for the game-winning RBI walk.
Allen suffered his first loss of the season, allowing two earned runs on one hit with a career-high five walks. It was just his third career loss in 60 appearances as a Wildcat.
"I haven't seen that out of James in a long time," head coach Brad Hill said. "But a one-run lead on the road in front of a great environment is tough. This is a top-10 program, and they are used to winning. They felt like they were going to get a run. If we had a two- or three-run lead, it puts them away. We didn't put them away offensively."
A pair of singles and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for the Wildcats in the third inning before Jason King and Mike Kindel recorded a pair of RBI ground outs. Jared King then slapped a single into center field to give K-State its two-run lead.
From that point, Texas starting pitcher Hoby Milner and relief pitcher Kirby Bellow combined to surrender just one K-State base hit from the fourth until the ninth, including a streak of 15-straight retired batters.
In the meantime, the Longhorns began to chip away. In the sixth, UT recorded a one-out infield single and a walk to bring up Lucas Kephart, who doubled to score a run and pull Texas to within one. Texas threatened for more in the inning, but Sturges was able to get out of the jam by inducing a ground ball double play.
In the seventh, Shepherd reached on an error to lead off the inning and managed his way to third, but Marshall received a ground out and a fly out before working a perfect eighth inning.
The loss spoiled an impressive showing from starter Matt Applegate, who allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. Sturges and Marshall followed Applegate out of the bullpen, combining to throw 2.2 innings of no-hit ball before turning the game over to Allen.
After going 0-for-3 on Friday night, K-State shortstop Tanner Witt bounced back to go 2-for-5 with a run scored. Junior Nick Martini went hitless for a second-straight game, but a third-inning hit-by-pitch extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely to 78 games.
Kephart paced Texas offensively by recording a pair of doubles with a RBI and one run scored.
Kansas State will try to salvage the final game of its conference-opening series at Texas as the weekend concludes with a 1 p.m. first pitch Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The contest can be heard online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.