The Kansas State baseball team continued its season-opening homestand with a 5-2 win over Iowa Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-State (6-7) got five strong innings from starting pitcher Jared Moore, who improved his record to 3-1 by scattering five Hawkeye hits and striking out three, as the Wildcats reeled off their fifth straight win.
“We’ve had our struggles offensively,” K-State catcher Blair DeBord said. “Our pitching has really been keeping us in it as of late. We’ve been getting really good starts out on the mound.”
Ross Kivett opened the K-State first with a four-pitch walk, and got the Wildcats on the board early, scoring on a groundout by Austin Fisher.
Moore got some insurance in the fifth when R.J. Santigate belted a single back up the box to score Shane Conlon and Kivett, and knocking Iowa starting pitcher Andrew Hetrick out of the game.
“Probably the biggest hit of the game was R.J.,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “He’s been really struggling, and to get that two-RBI hit that was a big one for him, big one for us.”
He’d need it as Iowa (9-2) responded with back-to-back singles to open the sixth from Jake Yacinich and Tyler Peyton. That was it for Moore as K-State turned to reliever Jake Fromson, but he was unable to get the Wildcats out of the jam unscathed.
Both runners advanced on a hot shot fielded by a diving Santigate at third. Dan Potempa drove in Yacinich with an RBI groundout to second. Peyton advanced on the play and Taylor Zeutenhorst knocked him in with a two-out infield hit before Fromson got the third out with K-State up 3-2.
DeBord might’ve broken out of his early season struggles, as he went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Manhattan High product got the Wildcats back on track in the sixth, lacing a one-out double down the left-field line. DeBord advanced on a groundout to the right side before Kivett legged out an infield hit on a smash to second base when Iowa’s Jake Mangler’s throw pulled Peyton off the bag at first and allowed DeBord to score from third with two outs to make it 4-2.
“It was really good after starting so slow,” DeBord said. “I’ve started to hit the ball on the barrel, but they’ve just been finding gloves. To get a good one and see the umpire finally point fair was a really big deal.”
Relievers Nate Griep and Jake Whaley tossed scoreless seventh and eighth innings for the Wildcats, and DeBord tacked on another run in the eighth with an RBI single that scored Max Brown to make it 5-2 Cats.
“We need to get (DeBord going),” Hill said. “He was a .300 type hitter for us last year and we’re going to need him going forward to help pick some things up there at the bottom of the order.”
Closer Jake Matthys came in and struck out two to finish it off with a perfect ninth to earn his second save of the season.
The Wildcats will be back in action against the Hawkeyes today. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium.