The Kansas State baseball team completed the four-game sweep of Hartford with a 13-2 win on an early and rainy Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
While the weather was misty throughout the early innings, the rain came down heavier after the third inning and caused a brief pause for crews to tend to the pitching mound. The rain eased, though, and the contest continued before ending after eight innings, due to a travel rule for the Hawks, who had a flight to catch back to Connecticut from Kansas City later in the day.
Freshman right-hander Matt Wivinis pitched the first 4 1/3 innings for the Wildcats and picked up his first win of the season in his first start. The K-State offense, however, just needed six hits to get the job done.
The Wildcats were also aided by the fact they drew 17 walks and were hit by three pitches. Not surprisingly — and greatly due to the weather —both teams combined for seven errors, with the Hawks committing five themselves.
The sweep improves K-State to 9-6, while Hartford dropped to 1-10.
“I thought our pitching was outstanding,” Wildcats head coach Brad Hill said about Wivinis. “The first inning could have been a debacle because we could not catch the ball and had a couple errors. He worked with runners on second and third, and he pitched through it. He had great composure.
“He went over four innings for us, which was great to see out of him. The other guys coming in behind him did a great job too.”
Wivinis allowed just two runs on three hits, walked none and struck out six. Sophomore left-hander Jared Moore relieved Wivinis for the remainder of the fifth and sixth, while Johnny Fasola and Caleb Wallingford closed out the final two innings.
Sophomore Hunter Englehart got the start for the Hawks and struggled in his 1 2/3 innings on the mound. The 6-foot-4 righty gave up five runs on two hits — three earned —walked seven and had no strikeouts.
“It’s never easy to beat somebody three times, let alone four times,” Hill said. “I thought Wivinis was really key for us — especially in the first — and then we come out and scored in the bottom of the first and guys got their minds right and focus where it needed to be.”
K-State led following the first inning 3-1 after taking advantage of walks and a two-run double by left fielder Brett Kauten.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the second inning and another in the fourth. A four-run fifth inning gave K-State a 10-2 lead and put the ballclub well in the driver’s seat from there.
“We had a little trouble at first,” Kauten, a junior, said. “We had a couple errors in the first inning but once we got going we were fine. We locked in defensively, made some good plays, and locked in offensively, too.”
Not one K-State batter was able to manage multiple hits Sunday, but Kauten and sophomore third baseman RJ Santigate each posted three RBIs.
Kauten said the rain may have hurt Hartford pitching more than K-State batting.
“A day like today, when (pitching) is all over the place, it’s not so hard,” he said. “It’s harder when you got a guy that is locked in and he’s just missing by inches.
“But we struggled a little bit out of the gate (this season), so we needed all four of these wins. It’s tough to sweep anyone, but we were locked in all weekend — it’s nice.”
Next, the Wildcats will head on the road for Tuesday and Wednesday matchups against the University of Minnesota with Tuesday’s first pitch slated for 6:35 p.m. in the Metrodome.
K-STATE 13, HARTFORD 2
Hartford 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0—- 2 5 5
K-State 3 2 0 1 4 0 3 0—- 13 6 2
WP: Wivinis (1-0) LP: Englehard (0-1)
2B – Hartford 1 (Stover). K-State 2 (Brown, Kauten).