March 31, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. – Tanner Witt’s two-out run-scoring single completed a two-run eighth inning as Kansas State came from behind to defeat No. 24 Oklahoma, 8-7, Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
K-State improved to 14-12 overall and 3-5 in Big 12 play and will look for its first Big 12 series win Sunday afternoon. The Sooners fell to 17-11 and 3-5 in league action.
It was the Wildcats’ first one-run victory of the year and the first when they have trailed after the seventh inning.
K-State jumped out to leads of 4-0 and 6-3, but a four-run outburst by OU in the fifth inning – which was boosted by Hunter Lockwood's opposite field three-run homer – gave the Sooners a 7-6 lead.
Jon Davis started K-State's eighth-inning rally with a one-out double down the right-field line and moved to third when OU right-fielder Cody Reine couldn’t field the ball cleanly. Jake Brown followed with a successful squeeze bunt to tie the game at 7-7.
Ross Kivett reached base when he was hit by a pitch and stole second with Witt at the plate. Witt worked the count to 3-1 before singling through the right side of the infield to put K-State ahead.
Freshman Nate Williams came out of the bullpen in the ninth and worked around a one-out hit batter to pick up his third save of the season and second in as many weekends.
“When you compete like that, win or lose, you can still talk about the game,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Yesterday, we couldn’t talk about it because when you don’t show up, there’s nothing to talk about. Win or lose, give me today’s effort every time and we’ll take our chances.”
After allowing Lockwood's home run, Gerardo Esquivel (2-1) retired nine of the final 11 batters he faced in a crucial relief appearance, including a stretch of nine straight, before handing the game over to Williams.
“After the home run, it was great stuff from Gerardo,” Hill said. “He competed, which is part of it too. He could have quit and dropped his head after the home run, but he didn’t. He put some zeroes up there to give us a chance, and Nate showed us great composure for a freshman.”
Oklahoma reliever Steven Okert (3-3) suffered the loss by allowing the two eighth-inning runs. He finished the game with four strikeouts in 2.1 innings of work.
Kansas State, which recorded six two-out RBI in the contest, had four players record two-hit games, including Witt, Davis, Jared King and Blair DeBord. DeBord, who drove in three runs, gave the Wildcats a 6-3 cushion in the fifth with his first home run of the year, a two-run shot over the left-field wall.
“We had been lacking two-out RBI for the last three or four games,” Hill said. “To me, one of the biggest things was after two bad at-bats in the fifth, Matt Giller steps up, takes a depth breath, hits a base hit through the middle and gives Blair an opportunity for the two-run homer. He gets the base hit, and then all of a sudden, we get a mistake and Blair hits it out. That’s what senior maturity is.”
The Wildcats jumped on the Sooners early with two runs in the second inning thanks to RBI singles by Dan Klein and Brown, while DeBord followed a sacrifice fly by Giller in the third with a run-scoring double to make the score 4-3.
The Sooners were paced offensively by Lockwood’s 2-for-5 day with five RBI, including a two-run double in the fourth inning that began a three-run frame. Caleb Bushyhead, who also had two hits, followed with a RBI single. Jack Mayfield drove in a run on a single in the fifth.
The rubber match between the Wildcats and Sooners is slated for 1 p.m., Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. K-State is expected to start right-hander Kayvon Bahramzadeh, while OU will counter with right-hander Jonathan Gray.
The game can be seen world-wide on K-StateHD.TV and can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.