Five-run 6th pushes Cats past Bears

By Joel Jellison

It took awhile for Kansas State’s offense to wake up on Thursday against Baylor.

But when it did, the Wildcats took off in an 8-2 win over the visiting Bears at Tointon Family Stadium.

The win ended a five-game skid by the Wildcats (21-17, 3-7 Big 12) in Big 12 play.

K-State trailed 2-0 before it pushed a run across in the fourth inning with a groundout from Blair DeBord that brought in Austin Fisher.

The Wildcats would get in gear in the sixth inning, thanks to some help from the Bears (17-20, 4-8) committing a costly error. Max Brown laid down a bunt with no outs, and Baylor pitcher Brad Kuntz fielded the ball and tried to throw Tyler Stover out at third. The ball soared over third baseman Duncan Wendel’s head and Stover tied the game at 2.

Baylor made the move to reliever Sean Spicer with runners at second and third, and Spicer struck out the first two batters he faced before locking into a full count with Ross Kivett.

Kivett cleared a single through the middle to score DeBord and Brown and put the Wildcats ahead for the first time all game.

“We got a big break on the bunt on the error,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “(They) come back and punch two guys out and we’re on pins and needles wondering what’s going to happen. Ross comes up with a huge hit for us. It seemed to loosen us up a little bit.”

Kivett said it felt good to come through in a clutch situation, after he’d struggled in similar scenarios lately.

“I kind of gave away a hitter’s count, but that happens,” he said. “I got something I could handle and didn’t miss it, which I’d seemed to be doing a little bit lately. It was nice to pick some guys up.”

Kivett would then steal second, and then third on back-to-back pitches to setup the Wildcats’ next run.

RJ Santigate sliced a single into the outfield to score Kivett from third, and then scored on a double from Fisher that put the lead at 6-2.

Brown popped a two-run home run off a tree in left field in the seventh inning to score the final two runs for K-State.

The offensive night was backed by a solid performance from starter Levi MaVorhis (5-4), who pitched eight innings and yielded two runs on seven hits and a walk, and finished with no strikeouts.

“That guy’s great,” Kivett said. “He’s good every week and he’s been our most consistent guy. We look forward to every time he pitches because he gives us a chance. I can’t speak highly enough for him.”

MaVorhis’ night started shaky in the first three innings, allowing a run to score with two outs in the first and giving up and RBI single in the third.

The first run of the game came when DeBord attempted to pickoff a runner stealing second, allowing a runner at third to break for him. The runner got trapped between first and second, and wasn’t tagged until after Baylor’s Adam Toth crossed home plate.

“Levi battling through his first three innings — he wasn’t really sharp his first three innings,” Hill said. “But then he settled in and pitched well for us.”

Kivett and Brown each led the Wildcats with two hits and two RBIs. Stover had a career-high three hits.

The Wildcats will play Game 2 of the series tonight at 6:30 and conclude the series on Saturday at 7 p.m. in a nationally televised contest on ESPNU.

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