Big innings were the keys to success for the Kansas State baseball team against Hartford on Friday and Saturday.
After the Wildcats dominated the Hawks Friday afternoon, K-State followed that performance with a doubleheader sweep Saturday.
K-State, which will go for the four-game sweep today, won the first game 10-2 and capped the day off with an 8-3 victory against Hartford.
It was also a day that tested the K-State record books, with senior shortstop Jake Brown posting a 6-for-6 outing in game one that tied the school record for most hits in a single game. In the second game, junior outfielder Tanner Witt tied the school record for most stolen bases in a game with four.
“It was a tough day… 18 innings is a long day of baseball,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “It takes our kids to really be locked in and focused and it takes some really good pitching, too.
“But it also took our offense taking pressure off of us.”
In game one, the Wildcats held just a 3-1 lead midway through the seventh inning but things quickly changed in the bottom of the frame when the K-State bats got going.
Junior outfielder Brett Kauten got the inning in motion for the Wildcats with a hit-by-pitch. A sacrifice bunt by catcher Dan Klein advanced freshman pinch-runner Dusty Maas, and during Witt’s at-bat, Maas stole third. A walk drawn by Ross Kivett put runners on the corners for K-State.
Brown then hit a two-double that extended the Wildcats’ lead to 5-1 and a groundout to third base by Mike Kindel brought in another run for K-State.
The Wildcats brought in one more before K-State lined out to third base to end the inning.
K-State added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth when Brown tied the KSU single-game hit record by beating the throw from the shortstop.
Junior left-hander Joe Flattery got the win for the Wildcats to improve to 3-1 on the mound, while junior reliever Jake Doller got the save.
Flattery allowed just one run on seven hits, had no walks, and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings.
In the second game, senior righty Kayvon Bahramzadeh got the nod on the mound for K-State and gave up three runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out five in six innings of work.
Freshman right-hander Nate Williams picked up his first save as a Wildcat in relief after fellow freshman Robert Youngdahl started the seventh and pitched through one out.
The game was tight with no runs by either team midway through the fourth, but K-State put together another big inning in the bottom half with a five-run explosion courtesy of RBIs by Brown and Witt.
The Wildcats posted another run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to widen the lead for the doubleheader sweep.
For the day, Brown was 8-for-10 with two doubles and seven RBIs.
The output by the Russell native was the most ever by a K-State batter in Hill’s nine years as the Wildcats’ head coach.
“It was really an amazing day,” Hill said about Brown. “He took good swings all day long and had a good approach in what he was doing. What I liked was that (he did it) against righty’s and lefty’s. Him being a left-handed hitter, I thought he had a good approach to both sides.
“It was a big day for him, and I’m real happy for him.”
Brown said his vision for the ball was good Saturday.
“From the get-go, I felt like I was seeing the ball pretty well,” he said. “I felt comfortable in the box and I don’t know, I just felt pretty good overall, really.”
Brown said the ability K-State has shown in this series to put up runs has been a big positive.
“It’s been a big confidence boost to get our offense going the way it should,” he said. “These last three games we’ve had a good approach.
“Even today, when we (started) with a pretty big win, we didn’t try and get big and do too much. We tried to stay in our approach and stay flat, and I think that’s been a big part of our success this weekend, so far.”
The Wildcats will conclude the series with Hartford today with the first pitch coming at 11 a.m.
K-STATE 10, HARTFORD 2
Hartford 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 — 2 9 3
K-State 0 2 0 0 1 0 4 3 X — 10 10 1
WP — Flattery (3-1). LP — Gouin (0-2). Save — Doller (1).
2B — K-State 2 (Brown). Hartford 2 (Hunter, Sheetz). 3B — K-State 1 (Kauten). HR — Hartford 1 (Hunter).
K-STATE 8, HARTFORD 3
Hartford 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 — 3 10 0
K-State 0 0 0 5 0 1 2 0 X — 8 11 1
WP — Bahramzadeh (3-0). LP — Newcomb (0-2). Save — Williams (1).
2B — Hartford 2 (Drexel, Lukach). 3B — Hartford 1 (Hunter). HR — K-State 1 (Hinkle).
An eight-run fifth inning was key in K-State’s 14-3 throttling of Hartford Friday afternoon in Tointon Family Stadium.
Home runs by Brown and senior Matt Giller in the bottom of the fifth was just the tip of the iceberg in the bottom of the fifth that gave the Wildcats a more-than comfortable cushion the rest of the way.
Senior right-hander Matt Applegate picked up his first win of the season, pitching six innings.
Applegate relieved by sophomore Gerardo Esquivel, who closed out the rest of the contest.
Applegate allowed just two runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out eight batters. Esquivel gave up one run on three hits, walked none and had six Ks in the final three innings for his first save of the season.
Giller, a Manhattan High alum, led K-State with a 3-for-5 outing with four RBIs and two runs scored.
K-STATE 14, HARTFORD 3
Hartford 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 — 3 10 1
K-State 2 0 0 2 8 1 0 0 X — 14 18 1
WP — Applegate (1-2). LP —Thatcher (0-2). Save — Esquivel (1).
2B — K-State 3 (Kauten 2, Kindel). HR — K-State 2 (Brown, Giller).