April 23, 2011
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State earned its first Big 12 sweep of the season and its first ever over Texas Tech as the Wildcats registered a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
For a third-straight day, pitching propelled the Cats to the victory as starter Matt Applegate struck out 13 batters in seven innings before James Allen collected his third save of the series en route to breaking the Kansas State records for career- and single-season saves.
The Wildcats improved to 24-15 on the year and 8-10 in Big 12 play. Texas Tech, which was swept by a conference opponent for the second time this season, dropped to 24-18 overall and 6-12 in the Big 12.
Applegate (4-2) arguably put together the best performance of his career as he recorded the most strikeouts by a Wildcat since Jim Ripley also had 13 in 2004. His strikeout total was just one shy of the most in the Big 12 this season, while Applegate more than doubled his previous career high of six.
The right-hander fanned six of the first nine batters he faced to equal his career-high in the third inning. In that frame, a hit batter and a single resulted in the only run Applegate surrendered. The Wichita native slammed the door on Texas Tech as he struck out the next two batters to give him eight in just three innings.
Applegate walked just one Red Raider – in the seventh inning – but he got out of the inning with a double-play on an outstanding running catch by left-fielder Nick Martini, who threw to second to end the frame.
“That was a phenomenal performance,” head coach Brad Hill said of Applegate. “I thought he was outstanding early and the defense came to the rescue late. Those two plays by Jared King in center and the play by Martini really saved us because they were going to tie the game up right there. Applegate competed extremely well and only gave up one run. We made some really great plays behind him to help him out.”
Applegate worked seven or more innings for the fourth time this season and the second in his Big 12 starts. He has walked just one batter and struck out 17 in his previous two starts, which have totaled 13.1 innings.
“I knew I was striking out a few guys, but I didn’t know I had as many as I did,” Applegate said. “I was just going out there and trying to make pitches. I was trying to be consistent and do the same thing I had been doing. The last couple of starts I hadn't been able to limit an inning to just one run. Trying to minimize the inning has been in the back of my mind when I get into that situation, and I was able to do that today.”
After Evan Marshall worked a scoreless eighth, Allen entered the contest and retired Texas Tech to earn his 13th save of the year and the 27th of his career. He broke the school records held by Daniel Edwards, who had 12 saves in 2008 and a career total of 26. Allen became the first Wildcat closer since at least 1999 with three saves in a Big 12 series, and is now tied for seventh for Big 12 career saves.
“Both Evan and James are pitching at a high level right now,” Hill said. “James is a kid that is really new as a pitcher. He was a shortstop in high school and was pitching minimally. It’s nice to have athletes. Your athletes tend to develop more, and he is an athlete. His arm has gotten quicker and faster, but the biggest thing for him is his competitiveness and composure. He doesn’t get rattled in situations. He’s a guy you want with the ball for the win at the end of the game.”
Allen's three saves on the weekend allowed him to tie Bo Reeder of East Tennessee State for the nation's lead.
“It’s a good record, but I just want to get wins,” Allen said. “If I pitch or not, it doesn’t matter. I just want to see us get wins as a team. If I’m getting saves, then that means we’re getting wins. I’m not even going to think about the records until the end of the season because we still have a lot of games left to play.”
Jason King tallied a career-high four hits, including his second triple of the series in the seventh inning. He drove in a pair of runs with singles in the first and again in the third, when he plated Martini who led the frame off with a double.
Jared King singled through the right side to drive in his older brother for the second run of the third inning, while Mike Kindel reached on an infield single and scored from third base on a passed ball to put K-State in front 4-1. Jaren King and Kindel each had two hits.
Freshman Ross Kivett was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored as his hitting streak came to an end at 11 games, the longest by a Wildcat freshman since 1990.
Texas Tech starter Brennan Stewart (2-1) took the loss after lasting just two innings and allowing all four runs on five hits.
Kansas State travels to Bakersfield, Calif., to take on Cal State-Bakersfield in a midweek series, Monday and Tuesday at Hardt Field. Both games of the series begin at 8 p.m. (CT) and can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.