Hill wins 300th as Cats top Niagara

By The Mercury

Kansas State’s right-hander Jake Doller couldn’t ask for much more.

The senior made his first-career start Tuesday, allowing just one unearned run on four hits with no walks and a career-best six strikeouts in the Wildcats’ 10-2 win over Niagara at Tointon Family Stadium.

With the victory, the Wildcats improved to 7-3 on the year and gave head coach Brad Hill his 300th victory as the K-State head coach. Hill is just the second coach to accomplish the feat as he ranks second in school history to the program’s all-time winningest coach, Mike Clark (435).

Niagara fell to 3-8 with the loss.

Doller, a senior who totaled 52 relief outings prior to Tuesday, lasted a career-long five innings. The Lake Waukomis, Mo., native threw 94 pitches as he bettered his previous high by 30. Doller successfully worked out of trouble on two occasions, stranding a leadoff double in the second and a two-out walk in the third inning before facing the minimum over the fourth and fifth frames.

“Jake was really good today,” Hill said. “He’s a senior guy that we’re trying to find a role for to see if he can help us. Maybe this is what it’s going to be this year because those midweek games are really important.

“When you start looking at building a resume for yourself, midweek games are really important. He looked really comfortable and confident out there with what he was doing.”

A pair of freshmen, Haden Nixon and Josh Smith, followed Doller with four innings, allowing another unearned run on three hits with a strikeout.

The Wildcats were led offensively by Jon Davis and Austin Fisher with two-hit games. Davis hammered his team-leading third home run of the year in the third inning — a two-run shot — while he singled and scored in the second inning and scored after reaching on a one-out walk in a Kansas State four-run seventh.

Davis, a former community-college transfer, did not homer until game No. 58 in 2012, while he has two home runs in the last three games.

Fisher registered a team-leading three RBIs Tuesday, all coming with two outs. He plated the first two K-State runs in the second inning with a single to center and came back with a run-scoring single in the seventh. The Lenexa product now has fourth straight games with a RBI.

“Austin’s two-RBI single in the second was a big hit,” Hill said. “Jon Davis continues to swing the bat well as we keep going. That’s what this stretch is for. We play a lot of games in three weeks, and that’s what we need. Practices need to be our game situations for guys to get confidence in what they’re doing. That’s why this stretch is really important for us.”

Shane Conlon extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a solo home run in the fourth inning. His second homer of the year now puts him in a tie for second place at K-State for hitting streaks to begin a season since Hill’s first season in 2004.

Tanner Witt followed Fisher’s single in the second inning with a RBI single to left. K-State’s four-run seventh inning began with RBI groundouts by RJ Santigate and Alex Bee. Blair DeBord drove home a run on his first-career triple to right-center field, while the inning was capped by Fisher’s run-scoring single to center.

Niagara starting pitcher Kyle Olver (1-1) took his first loss of the year after allowing seven runs on seven hits with five walks and five strikeouts. The Purple Eagles were led at the plate by Kevin Paulsen, who went 2 for 3 with a RBI single in the sixth inning and a run-scoring double in the eighth.

K-State and Niagara was to complete the two-game midweek series with a 3 p.m. contest today at Tointon Family Stadium.

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