Friday, October 9, 2015

Cats drop finale, turn focus to Big 12

Joel Jellison
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As it has all season, the Kansas State baseball team tried to produce a big inning on Sunday to come from behind.

With it’s third straight day of a packed house at Tointon Family Stadium, and two days after the Wildcats won the Big 12 title, the team trailed Oklahoma 7-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.

On an RJ Santigate single, the Wildcats cut into the lead with a run scored by Jared King, but Jon Davis was thrown out at the plate, effectively killing K-State’s shot at rallying. The Wildcats went on to lose 7-3.

K-State assistant coach Mike Clement, filling in for head coach Brad Hill who left after the game to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, said it was a big play.

“We wanted to stop him at third base, and he had his head down and was playing hard, I’m not going to fault him for that,” Clement said. “You put yourself in that position, down multiple runs — we wanted to create a big inning and weren’t able to do that.”

On a day the Wildcats (39-16, 16-8) had 14 hits to Oklahoma’s seven, the Sooners proved to be tough to solve. K-State stranded 13 runners, and struggled on the mound as well, using seven different pitchers in the contest.

Clement said the game played in to the one weakness that the Wildcats have had throughout the season at the plate.

“I think all year long, if we’ve had a weakness offensively, it’s been stranding runners,” he said. “Anytime you get 14 hits you expect to win the game, and we weren’t able to do that.”

The Wildcats opened the game on top in the first inning with an RBI single from King that scored Ross Kivett.

But the Sooners came back with three runs in the top of the third. Kolbey Carpenter doubled in a pair of runs for Oklahoma, and then Colt Bickerstaff singled to score him.

Oklahoma (36-19, 13-11) went ahead 4-1 in the fourth inning when Carpenter hit his second home run of the season. The Sooners looked to put the game away in the eighth inning, scoring three runs on K-State relievers Hayden Nixon and Matt Wivinis.

The Wildcats tried to put together a comeback in their half of the eighth frame, but it was to no avail.

King said despite the 14 hits, it was still tough to string together runs.

“It was tough getting started,” he said. “Their pitcher settled in nicely, we made that rally at the end and that’s kind of how we’ve been doing things all year. We get down, we come back some how.”

Jake Doller took the loss for the Wildcats, pitching just one and 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on one hit and two walks. He faced just seven batters. Oklahoma’s Jake Fisher took the win with seven innings pitched and two runs allowed on two hits and three walks.

Despite the Sunday finale loss, the Wildcats took 2 out of 3 and won the Big 12 Championship on the opening day of the series. Now, K-State focuses forward on the Big 12 tournament this week in Oklahoma City.

The Wildcats will open the double-elimination tournament with Texas Tech on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. inside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. K-State would play the winner or loser of Baylor and Oklahoma on Thursday.

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