On Friday night, the Kansas State baseball team needed nine innings to pull off a 6-5 come from behind winner against Texas Tech.
On Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats needed just one inning, scoring nine runs in the first inning en route to a 15-2 win over the Red Raiders at Tointon Family Stadium.
It was a particularly tough day for Red Raiders pitcher Jonny Drozd, who entered the game with a 3-2 record and a low 2.78 ERA in five starts. Drozd loaded the bases with no outs, and then allowed a bases loaded single from Blair DeBord to surrender the first run of the game.
Then Jon Davis cleared the bases with his fifth home run of the season, a grand slam that had K-State (22-10) on top 5-0 with no outs.
Davis said he wanted to make sure the bases-loaded situation didn’t go to waste.
“Everybody else in front of me was working hard to get on base, I didn’t want to really spoil it for them because they worked hard in their at-bats as well,” he said. “A grand slam is just like an ordinary home run, the bases are just loaded. We just basically had to take advantage of that opportunity and it was a big momentum changer.”
RJ Santigate would score the sixth run of the inning, finding an opening when Texas Tech (17-16) catcher Mason Randolph badly misfired on throw to third on a stolen base attempt.
Drozd was chased from the game soon after that, leaving one more run on base that would be charged to him. He finished the game with 1/3 of an inning pitched, with seven runs allowed on four hits and two walks.
The remaining runs of the inning would all come on two-out hits. Ross Kivett scored Austin Fisher on a single, Shane Conlon drove in Kivett with a single, and Jared King brought in Conlon with a double.
The nine-run cushion allowed starting pitcher Matt Wivinis to work comfortably, going six innings and allowing an unearned run on six hits with four strikeouts. Wivinis moved to 5-1 on the season.
K-State coach Brad Hill said it was hard to know what to expect out of Wivinis in this start, but he thought DeBord did a good job of calling the game behind the plate as well.
“Wivinis pitched good,” he said. “You don’t know if he’s going to be sloppy, lose his focus, or stay locked in. I thought Blair did a good job of making sure he stayed locked in.”
The Wildcats would add to their nine-run lead in the third inning, getting a three-run home run from Conlon with no outs. K-State would also add a run on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Damion Lovato.
King added to the rout in the bottom of the fourth, sending a deep fly ball over the right field fence for the third K-State home run of the game.
Texas Tech scored its first run of the game on a passed ball in the fifth inning, and then added a run on a groundout in the seventh.
The Wildcats got their final run of the afternoon on a solo home run from Mitch Meyer in the bottom of the seventh. K-State finished the game with four home runs, with all four going over the right-field fence.
“It was kind of one of those things,” Hill said. “The guys utilized that (wind) and got the ball the other way and got some mistakes and did a good job with them.”
The Wildcats brought in lefthander Landon Busch to relieve Wivinis to start the seventh, but Busch took a liner to his left hand just two pitches into his appearance and left the game. Hayden Nixon came on in relief, and pitched three innings to pick up the save.
Both Kivett and Davis finished the game 4 for 4 at the plate, while King was 2 for 2. Conlon went 3 for 6 with four RBIs.
Conlon said it was a game where everything seemed to flow at the plate.
“It’s easy to hit in these situations when you have Ross Kivett always getting on base, and hitting in front of Jared King you get pitches to hit all day,” he said. “We just got after it.”
After leaving 11 men stranded on base in the 6-5 win over the Red Raiders on Friday, Hill thought the team did a better job with plate discipline on Saturday.
“We got much better,” he said of the hitting. “I challenged them, we must be better with men on base, get better pitches, take better swings — and we did that.”