Clayton Dalrymple scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night to give the Kansas State baseball team a 6-5 walk-off victory over Nebraska-Omaha at Tointon Family Stadium.
The victory extends the Wildcats’ winning streak to seven games — its longest since 2012.
The Wildcats (8-7) were locked in a 5-5 game with Omaha (5-8) entering the bottom of the ninth, and they loaded the bases with one out following Dalrymple’s infield single, Ross Kivett’s single to right field and an intentional walk to Shane Conlon.
RJ Santigate worked the count to 2-2 before the pitch delivered by Omaha’s Anthony Falcone sailed high over the catcher Collin Leif’s glove to help plate Dalrymple.
It was the first walk-off win for K-State since clinching the Big 12 title — also on a wild pitch in a 6-5 game — last May against Oklahoma.
“You don’t know what is going to happen,” said Hill about the wild pitch in the ninth, “but you’ll take the win.”
K-State starting pitcher Nate Griep — making his first collegiate start — set the table for the Wildcats after facing the minimum through the first 4 2/3 innings.
The right-hander did not factor into the decision, though, as he allowed three runs, one of which was earned, in 5 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out a career-high five and walked two.
Griep’s biggest source of trouble came in the sixth inning when a wild throw by Conlon to Griep after fielding a grounder allowed Cole Gruber to reach second with a two-base error.
Griep then struck out Clayton Talyor after intentionally walking Alex Schultz, before giving way to reliever Jordan Floyd. Floyd’s first batter faced, Brett Bass, laced a double down the left-field line, driving in two runs and giving Omaha its first lead at 3-2.
The Mavericks made it 4-2 later in the inning with an RBI single by Caleb Palensky.
K-State answered Omaha’s three two-out runs in the top half of the sixth with a trio of two-out runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning.
Mitch Meyer hit a three-run homer on a 1-2 count over the right-field wall to give the lead back to K-State at 5-4. It was Meyer’s first home run of the season.
“I got down in the count and my first two at-bats were kind of bad,” said Meyer. “There was a little frustration in the swing. I was able to stay on the changeup and put it out to get some runs on the board for the team.”
Austin Fisher started the sixth-inning rally with a one-out double to the right-center field gap. Santigate followed with a walk on a full count to put runners at first and second. For Hill, Meyer’s at-bat was important, but the hitters before were just as crucial.
“Big at-bat (by Meyer), but the two at-bats before that are probably just as big,” said Hill. “RJ’s walk was really tough because that pitch was tough to lay off of to give Mitch that opportunity.”
Omaha tied the game, however, in the eighth inning when Schultz hit a one-out solo home run to right off of K-State reliever Ethan Landon. It was the first and only run scored by the Mavericks in the game with less than two outs.
Jake Matthys pitched a perfect top of the ninth, striking out one, to earn his first win of the year.
The Wildcats offense jumped on the board in the first inning when Kivett led off the frame with a double down the left-field line. Kivett later scored when Fisher hit a grounder to the Omaha first baseman Taylor, who bobbled the ground ball to allow Fisher to reach base and also let a hustling Kivett score from second and make it 1-0 K-State.
K-State grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third when Conlon’s sacrifice fly scored Dalrymple, who led off the second with a single to center.
Dalrymple and Kivett had two hits each, combining for four of the Wildcats’ seven hits on the night.
K-State returns to action this weekend against Northern Colorado at Tointon Family Stadium. First pitch in the series opener on Friday is set for 6:30 p.m.