April 2, 2013
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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State’s Tanner Witt registered a 5-for-5 performance with a home run and four RBI, leading K-State to a 9-1 win over Nebraska Tuesday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 19-10 and have won six-straight home games. The eight-run victory was the biggest margin over NU since a 13-5 triumph on April 10, 2010, and allowed K-State to win its first season series over the Huskers since a sweep in 2010. The finale of the three-game non-conference series will be April 23 in Lincoln. Nebraska fell to 11-16.
Witt eclipsed his career-high in hits by two with his outing, as the senior had 11 times produced three-hit games prior to Tuesday. Witt, who tied his career-high in RBI and was a triple short of the cycle, doubled and scored in the first inning and hit just his third career home run in the third. The solo home run was his first since April 28, 2010, breaking a homerless drought of 473 at-bats.
Witt also singled home a run in the fourth inning, singled and scored in the sixth, and put the game away with a two-out, two-run single as part of a three-run seventh inning that boosted the Wildcats' lead to seven.
“It was disappointing over the weekend where we thought we were in position to win two or three and we couldn’t finish games off,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Tonight that was the message, and the guys really took to it. Tanner had just a tremendous night for us. It’s hard to get two or three hits in a game, let alone keeping it together and getting five. His last hit was the one that really put the last nail in the coffin with the two RBI. We didn’t get the hit before that, and he gets the big two-out hit to put the game away for us.”
A product of Hawthorn Woods, Ill., Witt is the second Wildcat this season with five hits in a game, which is one shy of the school record. Shane Conlon recorded five hits on February 21, against No. 8 Kentucky, marking the first time in Hill’s 10 years at K-State that the Wildcats have had two five-hit games in the same season. Additionally, Witt and Conlon are the only two Big 12 players this year with as many as five hits in a game.
“I’m feeling good,” Witt said about his offensive approach. “I’ve been working on my swing a lot after struggling at the beginning of the season. I’ve put extra work in with Coach (Mike) Clement, and I’m finally starting to feel more comfortable at the plate. When I was struggling, I was really anxious, but now I’m more relaxed.”
Witt also tossed a scoreless ninth inning with a strikeout as he was the final of five K-State pitchers that limited Nebraska to only an unearned run on five hits. Starting pitcher Blake McFadden (2-1) earned the win in a predetermined start as he allowed just one hit over three scoreless innings with two strikeouts.
“He’s been pitching better and better each time out,” Hill said of his freshman right-hander. “He’s been getting more confidence in himself. We’re getting more confidence in him.”
Nebraska scored its run off Nate Williams in the fifth inning, but the right-hander allowed only one hit and struck out two batters over three innings of work. Levi MaVorhis and Jake Matthys followed Williams by pitching an inning apiece.
All five K-State pitchers found the strike zone consistently as the Wildcats did not walk a batter for the fifth time this season.
RJ Santigate and Jon Davis each tallied two-hit games. Davis was also hit by a pitch for the 13th time this season to move into a tie for eighth place in K-State history. He has now been hit by a pitch 26 times in his career, tying him for fifth place in that category in program history .
K-State began its scoring in the first inning on a Jared King RBI single, while Witt’s homer and a Davis run-scoring base hit in the third inning made the score 3-0. Following Witt’s RBI single in the fourth inning, Mitch Meyer recorded a two-out RBI in the sixth on a single to right field, putting K-State on top 5-1.
K-State’s three-run seventh inning began with a Joe Goodwin pinch-hit RBI single and was capped by Witt’s two-run single. Austin Fisher registered a two-out RBI base hit to left field in the eighth inning to complete the scoring.
Nebraska starting pitcher Tyler King (1-1) suffered the loss as he surrendered three runs on five hits in three innings of work. Catcher Tanner Lubach drove home the lone Husker run on a RBI ground out in the fifth inning.
The Wildcats continue their six-game homestand Wednesday with a 6:30 p.m., contest against Omaha at Tointon Family Stadium. The game will be shown nationally on Fox College Sports, while free live audio can be heard at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
Fans can order tickets online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office beginning at 5:30 p.m.