CORVALLIS, Ore. — Down to its final strike in the top of the ninth, the Kansas State offense showed itself and it showed up in a big way.
The Wildcats were down 2-1 in the ninth with two outs and Ross Kivett was down 0-2 when he laced a double to right-center field. Tanner Witt followed up with a solid single to center to score Kivett to tie the game 2-2 and silence an Oregon State crowd of 3,574.
With momentum in the visiting dugout, the Wildcats sealed the deal with four more runs in the 10th inning to defeat the Beavers, 6-2.
K-State is now one win away from going to its first-ever College World Series.
Of all the Super Regionals happening around the country, it’s the Corvallis Super Regional that will test the old adage of great pitching beats great hitting. In Game 1, the hitting eventually came through.
K-State came into Corvallis with a team batting average of .324 and Oregon State countered with a team earned run average of just 2.12.
“A lot is said about our offense, but you have to give credit to our pitching tonight,” Wildcats coach Brad Hill said. “(Joe) Flattery, (Nate) Williams and (Jake) Matthys matched them and they did.”
K-State’s pitching trio made one mistake the entire night and that was to Michael Conforto, who hit a towering two-run homer to right that cleared the right-field bleachers to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
But that would be Oregon State’s lone scoring chance the entire night.
With the Wildcats holding the Beavers at bay, it was just a matter of time until the powerful K-State bats would get rolling.
And it did in the sixth when Kivett doubled and advanced to third on Witt’s infield single. The Wildcats would eventually load the bases and score when Jon Davis was plunked by Matt Boyd’s fastball. But Boyd would settle down and get out of the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Boyd left the game in the eighth and K-State was delighted to see the All-American walk back to his dugout. The lefty perplexed the Wildcat offense for seven innings, giving up five hits, striking out three and walking two.
“Matt Boyd pitched well enough to win the ball game,” Beaver coach Pat Casey said. “We didn’t score him any runs. We left runners on base and didn’t capitalize on opportunities when we had those chances. We had the lead in our ball park and it just didn’t hold.”
Once Boyd left, K-State’s offense would start to get going, although Oregon State managed to escape the eighth with the bases loaded.
Oregon State would not escape the 10th, however.
The Wildcats didn’t exactly pound the ball in the 10th against reliever Jace Fry, but it was enough.
Davis started the scoring with a single to center, scoring Jared King for the 3-2 lead. Mitch Meyer would single to left, giving K-State a 4-2 lead.
The back breaker came when Witt muscled a 1-2 pitch into right, scoring two more for the 6-2 lead.
“Our thought and our approach to the game is that we know we are going to score and we know we are going to get runs,” Witt said. “It’s a whole team effort. Everybody has confidence in everyone else.”
With much of the Beaver crowd leaving, Matthys managed to pitch a clean 10th inning and earn the win.
Now K-State is just one win away to go where no other Wildcat baseball team has ever been, to Omaha and the College World Series.
But K-State won’t treat Game 2 of the Super Regional as anything special.
“Nothing has been easy for us and we know it’s going to be tough,” Hill said.