Following Saturday’s dominating win Kansas State head baseball coach Brad Hill wasn’t ready to say his team had rebounded after the frustrating way the Wildcats dropped Friday’s home opener.
After Sunday, though, it seems he can make that statement.
K-State got out of the gate quickly with a five-run lead after the first inning and defeated Pacific 9-3 Sunday afternoon in Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats took the series 2-1 and improve to 5-5 overall. Pacific drops to 2-10.
“How we’ve carried ourselves is a lot different in the last two days,” Hill said. “We just played so tight and pressed that first game, and then to see guys just come out and relax.. and guys weren’t so hung up on making mistakes.
“When you don’t worry about making mistakes, it’s amazing how less mistakes you start making. That was really key.”
K-State starting pitcher Kayvon Bahramzadeh picked up his second win of the season and faced the minimum in the first three innings for the second time this season.
The senior right-hander allowed just one run on four hits, walked none and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts in six innings of service.
“(He had) really good command,” Hill said about Bahramzadeh’s outing. “He came out of the bullpen last year and pitched really comfortable for us, so it’s great to see him continue to (have that comfort).”
Bahramzadeh credited his performance to the early fireworks the offense put up.
“The biggest thing was getting seven runs in two innings,” he said. “That was really helping me. It’s real easy to pitch when you are ahead and there’s not that pressure, but I felt like I was able to attack the zone today.”
After retiring Pacific 1-2-3 in the opening half of the first, K-State lead-off batter Ross Kivett fought the pitch count and drew a walk. Infielder Tanner Witt then singled to right-center to advance Kivett to third, and a single through the left side by center fielder Jared King plated the Wildcats’ first run.
Tigers starting pitcher Kyle Crawford responded by striking out designated hitter Blair DeBord after filling up the count, but King stole second and the move resulted in an error by the catcher. The miscue opened home plate for Witt.
K-State first baseman Wade Hinkle kept the momentum going with a single to left-center that scored King and right fielder Mike Kindel stepped on the gas pedal even harder with a triple to right center that added another run.
Wildcats catcher Dan Klein hit a sacrifice fly to score KSU’s fifth run of the inning and Crawford was relieved after third baseman Jon Davis was hit by a pitch.
Although Michael Hager finally got the Tigers out of the inning with a strikeout in the next at-bat, the damage was done by K-State.
Bahramzadeh kept flying through the Pacific line-up and the Wildcat offense added more runs in the second, third and fourth innings to take a 9-0 lead going into the fifth inning.
The Tigers put pressure on K-State in the top of the eighth, though.
Pacific had the bases loaded and cut the lead to 9-3 with one out. The Wildcats then relieved freshman right-hander Johnny Fasola and gave the nod to Nate Williams — another freshman righty — in the pinch. It only took one throw for Williams to choke the Tigers’ comeback hopes. Pacific designated hitter Taylor Murphy lined into a double-play and the Wildcats were not tested again the rest of the way.
Hinkle was 3-for-3 on the day for K-State and had two RBIs, a run and a walk. Kindel was 1-for-3 and also had two RBIs and a run, while both Witt and King were 2-for-4 with an RBI each.
Hinkle, who batted in the No. 5 slot Sunday, said the quick start and the production from the top of the order was big for the Wildcats.
“It was good that we came out strong in the beginning, because we know Pacific is a tough team to play,” the senior said. “We’ve been struggling getting that lead-off guy on base, and them setting the tone right away today was huge.
“A lot of guys are finding themselves.”
K-State will continue non-conference play Wednesday, with a road trip at Nebraska.
K-STATE 9, PACIFIC 3
Pacific 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 — 3 7 1
Kansas State 5 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 x — 9 11 1
WP: Bahramzadeh (2-0) LP: Crawford (0-1)
2B — Pacific 1 (Murphy). K-State 2 (DeBord, Hinkle). 3B – K-State 1 (Kindel).