K-State eases past Northern Colorado, 11-0

By The Mercury

Kansas State’s Jake Doller and Landon Busch combined to limit Northern Colorado to just one hit, while the Wildcats tallied double-digit runs for the sixth time in the last seven games as the K-State baseball team shut out the Bears, 11-0, Tuesday night at Tointon Family Stadium.

With the win, K-State improved to 10-5 on the year and 7-2 in its current 19-game homestand. The Bears fell to 3-7.

Making his second-career start, Doller faced just two batters over the minimum in seven innings of work, surrendering only a leadoff double in the fourth inning off the bat of Dylan Banach and a one-out walk in the fifth. The right-hander tied his career high with six strikeouts for the second straight week and lowered his season ERA to 0.43.

“He was tremendous,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “He was attacking the zone, and he has so much confidence on the mound. He’s making pitches when he has to, including pitching out of the leadoff-double situation. It was just a great outing by him. He had good rhythm. There was the one inning where he got the ball up a little bit and they hit a couple balls hard, but it was right at our guys.

“The composure he’s showing on the mound right now is what I really like. He’s very composed and confident in what he’s doing.”

Doller, a product of Lake Waukomis, Mo., seemed to get stronger as the game went on, as three of his six strikeouts came in his final two frames.

“I’ve cleaned up my mechanics, so I guess you could say I’ve become a new pitcher,” Doller said. “I had some really bad habits before. I’ve been trying to clean that up. Confidence is a key to have on the mound, and when you feel good, it’s easy to pitch.”

Busch finished off the Bears by tossing two innings with a career-best five strikeouts. The one hit allowed by the Wildcats were the fewest in exactly two years as Matt Applegate and Jake Allen also surrendered one base hit against Long Island on March 12, 2011. In addition, the 11 strikeouts Tuesday by the Wildcat hurlers were the second-most of the season.

Doller was able to pitch with a comfortable lead throughout the night, thanks to four K-State runs in the bottom of the first inning. Shane Conlon began the scoring with his third home run of the season, a two-run shot over the right-field wall. Conlon, who went 2 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs scored, extended his hitting streak to 15 games, tying Carter Jurica (2010) for the longest to start a season since Hill’s first year in 2004.

Three batters after Conlon’s homer, Damion Lovato drove home a run on a double to right field, while Austin Fisher singled home the K-State left fielder.

Senior Jon Davis hit his team-leading fourth home run of the year in the fifth inning as part of a 2-for-4, two-RBI effort. His solo shot extended K-State’s lead to 7-0, while he added a RBI infield single in the seventh inning. Joe Goodwin also carded a multi-hit game — his third in the last five contests — by going 2 for 3 with a RBI single in the fourth inning.

The Wildcats capped the night with three runs in the eighth inning when Clayton Dalrymple hit a pinch-hit, bases-clearing double. Northern Colorado left fielder Jensen Park came up empty on an attempted diving catch on the sinking line drive, allowing the ball to roll all the way to the wall.

K-State totaled 11 hits in the game — the 12th time in 15 contests the Wildcats have tallied 10 or more hits. The Wildcats are now hitting .321 as a team, the highest batting average at least 15 games into a season since 2010 (.349).

“We had some guys give away at-bats tonight, which I really don’t like, but at the same time we kept tacking on runs,” Hill said. “That’s really important so they couldn’t get any momentum going, and Jake did the rest.”

Ross Kivett, who went 1 for 4, registered three steals for the second straight game.

Northern Colorado starting pitcher Nick Miller (2-1) took the loss as he allowed the four first-inning runs and faced only one batter in the second inning before being taken out the contest.

K-State and Northern Colorado was set to complete their two-game series Wednesday afternoon at 3.

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