SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The 18th-ranked Kansas State baseball team was stifled by Cal Poly starting pitcher Matt Imhof on Friday night, as the Wildcats were shut out, 3-0, to open the season at Baggett Stadium.
The left-handed Imhof struck out 14 batters — tying Cal Poly’s Division I program-record for a single game — and held K-State to two hits in seven-plus innings.
“(Imhof) blew us away with his fastball and that just doesn’t happen very often,” K-State head coach Brad Hill. “It’s a credit to him, but also not good on our part that we couldn’t adjust a couple times through the order.
“His fastball is 92-94 and he’s going to be a very high MLB draft pick, but we’re going to face those types of guys throughout the course of the year.”
K-State starting pitcher Levi MaVorhis went toe-to-toe with Imhof through the night’s first five innings.
The right-hander struck out four — matching his career-high — while holding the Mustangs to just two hits in the no-decision. The sophomore also did not walk a batter for the second time in his seven career starts.
“Five innings, no walks, competed and made pitches when he had to,” Hill said about MaVorhis. “Clayton (Dalrymple) made a couple nice plays for him, too, but that’s what it is all about.
“When a guy is throwing strikes, we’re going to make some plays behind him. I thought Levi did exactly what we needed.”
Cal Poly inflicted all of its damage in the sixth inning after MaVorhis was relieved. The Mustangs attacked sophomore pitcher Landon Busch with back-to-back base hits to open the frame. After a balk by Busch advanced Jordan Ellis and Tim Wise to second and third base, respectively, the southpaw Busch struck out Cal Poly’s three-hole hitter, Nick Torres.
Busch then loaded the bases with an intentional walk before being removed for Jake Fromson.
The freshman surrendered a hard-hit single to the first batter he faced, Jimmy Allen, allowing the game’s first two runs to score.
Fromson then allowed another single up the middle past a diving Austin Fisher at shortstop, to once again load the bases. Fromson issued a bases-loaded walk to the subsequent batter, Mark Mathias, to force home a run and cap the game’s scoring at 3-0.
Busch took the loss after being responsible for all three Cal Poly runs in his 1/3 of an inning pitched.
Fromson allowed three hits in 1 2/3 innings.
With the K-State offense held in check all night, Fisher was the only Wildcat to reach base more than once with two walks. Ross Kivett had an infield single off the third base bag in the third inning, and RJ Santigate tallied K-State’s second hit with another infield single in the fifth.
Freshman Ethan Landon held Cal Poly scoreless in his only inning of work in the eighth.
Cal Poly’s Reed Reilly turned in a two-inning save after spelling Imhof in the eighth inning. Imhof hit Dalrymple to lead off the top of the eighth.
The loss for K-State was its first defeat in a season opener since 2008.
The Wildcats and Mustangs faced met in Game 2 of the three-game series on Saturday night, but the results were unavailable by press time.
K-State will wrap up the series today at 3 p.m.