Kansas State secured its first walk-off win of the season on Tuesday night, and after losing four straight, it couldn’t have come at a much better time.
With the game tied at 3-all in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ross Kivett doubled down the left-field line with one out to score Tanner Witt, as K-State defeated Northern Colorado 4-3 at Tointon Family Stadium.
“We talk about trying to hit the ball hard and flat and it ends up being two balls being hard and flat that wins the game for us,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said.
K-State (18-18) took a 3-1 lead into the top of the ninth, but Jake Doller, who pitched a scoreless eighth, struggled in the final frame. The Bears loaded the bases with nobody out, and Bryan Tibbitts, a pinch hitter, singled to left field, scoring two and tying the game up at 3 with nobody out.
The inning could have been a lot worse for the Wildcats, but Northern Colorado couldn’t capitalize. The Bears had two on with nobody out following Tibbitts’ two-run single. Doller then fell behind in the count 3-0 to the following batter, who was trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt. In danger of walking him to load the bases, Doller bounced back. The next two bunt attempts went foul to make the count full, and then the payoff pitch was rolled over to third base for a 5-4-3 double play.
“It was a great turn right there because it was kind of a chopper ball and those guys made a really nice turn out of it,” Hill said.
With a runner on third with two outs, Casey Coy lined out softly to Doller to end the inning.
“Jake was good but that last inning he left some balls up and we put ourselves in a pressure situation,” Hill said. “But he got us out of the inning tied up and that was really big.”
Jared Moore pitched five innings of one-run baseball, allowing just four hits on 96 pitches. Tanner Witt, who reached base in the ninth on an error by third baseman Tony Crudo, pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Moore.
“Pitching was solid all night long,” Hill said. “I thought Jared Moore really competed great. Threw a lot of pitches in five innings but made pitches when he had to, competed enough, made some good plays behind him. Tanner was really good too.”
The offense, on the other hand, struggled. The Wildcats had nine hits in 34 at bats, but left nine on base.
“Offensively was kind of a battle, not very productive with men in scoring position,” Hill said. “Just not taking very good swings at very good pitches and our focus or whatever it might be. We’re better hitters than what we showed.”
K-State took to the field again today against Northern Colorado — a game that began at 3 p.m.