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K-State’s comeback falls short in 12-11 loss to Iowa

By Greg Woods

Asking more out of Steve Serratore would have been stretching it.

The Kansas State right fielder was 5-for-5 with 5 RBIs when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th Sunday afternoon against Iowa, his Wildcats facing a 12-11 deficit.

Serratore drew a two-out walk, and first baseman Jake Scudder also walked to land men on first and second.

But shortstop Quintin Crandall then struck out to end the threat, sealing a 12-11 win for the Hawkeyes.

Reliever Jordan Floyd (1-1) took the loss for K-State after giving up a run in the top of the 10th.

Considering his scorching day, Serratore might have preferred a chance to square one up in his last at-bat — but the Wildcats (14-6) needed baserunners.

“I was just trying to get on any way I could,” he said, “whether that was a hit or a bean or a walk. Just trying to set something up.”

K-State may not have been able to make up the seven-run deficit it faced early on without Serratore’s production. Iowa grabbed a lead as wide as 11-4 with four runs in the sixth, but K-State staged its comeback immediately after.

It began with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, when Crandall and designated hitter Grant Reuben registered back-to-back home runs to begin the inning.

Second baseman Jake Wodtke wasted no time contributing an inning later. The senior laced a first-pitch fastball into center field, kicking off what turned into a four-run seventh inning.

One at-bat later, Serratore smacked a triple that scored Wodtke, and Reuben blasted his second homer of the game three slots later, a three-run shot that trimmed K-State’s deficit to 11-10 headed into the eighth.

After K-State reliever Nick Jones held Iowa scoreless in both the seventh and eighth innings, center fielder Cameron Thompson led off the bottom half of the eighth with a double to left-center gap. After Wodtke lined out to left, Serratore drove Thompson in with a game-tying single.

Scudder then flied out, but Crandall rocketed one into the outfield, opening the door for Serratore to score from first — but two relay throws cut him down at home.

“Two perfect throws from the outfield,” K-State coach Brad Hill said of the play.

Jones then secured an uneventful top of the ninth, leaving K-State an opportunity to win it in the bottom half, but three straight outs — one a sacrifice that Iowa negated by getting the lead runner out — after Reuben’s leadoff single killed the Wildcats’ walk-off chances.

“You really feel good to get that leadoff hitter (on) in the bottom of the ninth,” Hill said. “You (think) you’re probably going to go ahead and win the game.”

Things certainly looked that way in both the ninth and 10th innings, but Iowa’s white-hot first half of the game was to blame, at least in part.

Hawkeye first baseman Jake Adams delivered three home runs, the first in the first inning, the second in the fourth and the third in the sixth inning, ballooning Iowa’s lead to 11-4.

“Conditions were conducive for him today,” Hill said of Adams, who drove in seven runs. “Big guy, physical. He’s an uphill-type swinger. He got it. You’ve got to give him credit.”

K-State threw several pitchers at Iowa during its hot streak, including starter Brogan Heinen and relievers Jared Marolf and Kasey Ford, but the Hawkeyes seemingly couldn’t help but rope hits.

Heinen (4.2 innings, 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts) exited in the fifth after intentionally walking Adams. Iowa added a run in the inning after the pitching replacement.

Heinen allowed seven runs total due to two K-State errors.

“I thought he kind of got unaggressive with his pitches,” Hill said of. “You’ve got to be more aggressive on the mound. When you’ve got wind conditions like this, you can’t try to feel what you’re doing, because then, you take off velocity, take off movement, the ball gets flat, and then you get in a lot of trouble.”

K-State won the three-game series with Iowa, 2-1, and will return to action Tuesday to host Omaha for the second time this season.

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