March 25, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Erich Weiss went 3-for-4 with a triple, two home runs and four RBI to help No. 21 Texas battle back and take the series from Kansas State with an 8-5 victory Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Longhorns improved to 13-9 on the season and 5-1 in Big 12 play. The Wildcats, who have won the first game in each of their Big 12 series this season only to drop each three-game set, fell to 13-10 overall and 2-4 in conference action.
Weiss was a major player in three of Texas’ four two-run innings as he hit a RBI triple in the first, a two-run homer in the third and homered again on the first pitch of the ninth.
“Weiss was the freshman of the year last year, and he’s a great player,” head coach Brad Hill said. “We made mistakes pitching to him and he hit it really good. We didn’t make good pitches, and that’s what this whole thing is about. When we made a mistake, they were ready to hit.
“We made a little bit of a run, but not enough,” Hill continued. “I told our guys that it was going to take eight to 10 runs today. I challenged them to get there, but we only got half way.”
Kansas State trailed 2-0 after the first inning, but the Wildcats scratched across a run in the second on Wade Hinkle’s fifth home run of the season.
Weiss’ two-run shot in the third made the score 4-1, but the Wildcats fought to tie the game with three runs in the fifth. Tanner Witt led off with a double and scored when Ross Kivett hit a shot up the middle.
Following a walk, Texas brought in reliever Hoby Milner (4-3), who walked Jared King to load the bases. Matt Giller singled to right field to score another run, and the Cats tied the game when Mike Kindel was hit by the 10th pitch of his at-bat.
With just one out, K-State had a golden opportunity to take the lead, but Milner ended the threat by forcing a foul out and a ground out. He also worked out of trouble the next inning after Witt and Kivett opened the sixth with consecutive base hits. But Jake Brown bunted into a fielder’s choice as Milner threw Witt out at third, then the left-hander struck out King and got Hinkle to line out to retire the side.
Jonathan Walsh hit a two-run double in the seventh to build the Texas lead to 6-4.
“It’s all about who handles the pressure of the game,” Hill said. “They (Texas) handled it better offensively. They got the swings when we didn’t make pitches. We made mistakes and they were ready to hit them. From our offensive standpoint, we had a couple opportunities and we didn’t handle the pressure. We have to figure that out.”
Milner pitched two scoreless innings in his third appearance of the series, allowing three hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Texas closer Corey Knebel came in to record the final out of the eighth and worked a perfect ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.
The Wildcats had an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth inning when King smashed a two-out RBI triple off the left-center field wall to make the score 6-5. Hinkle hit a ball hard down the first-base line, but Longhorn first baseman Alex Silver make a diving stop and flipped to Knebel to hold the lead at one.
Weiss' second homer put the UT lead back at two, while Silver added a RBI double to finish off the frame.
The Longhorns also received three hits from Silver and Jordan Etier, while Walsh turned in a four-hit, three-RBI performance.
K-State was led offensively by Kivett, who was 3-for-4 on the afternoon with a RBI and two runs scored. He finished the series with a team-best seven hits in 11 at-bats and scored five runs. Witt also recorded a pair of hits Sunday afternoon.
Freshman Robert Youngdahl (0-1), who allowed two seventh-inning runs, suffered his first loss of the season.
Kansas State travels to Nebraska on Tuesday for a 6:35 p.m., contest against the Huskers at Hawks Field. It is the second game of a three-game series between the K-State and Nebraska as the Huskers will travel to Manhattan on April 3. Tuesday’s game can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN as well as online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.