Ross Kivett’s job is usually to get on base and let other guys drive him in.
But on Tuesday night, Kansas State’s leadoff hitter was driving in the guys in the bottom of the order, going 3 for 4 with five RBIs as the Wildcats defeated Nebraska 10-8.
On a cold night at Tointon Family Stadium, the Wildcats (17-8) found themselves in an offensive marathon, with no pitcher safe from a short outing. The teams each used eight pitchers, and seven of the 16 pitched less than an inning.
K-State coach Brad Hill said while the offense was hitting its stride, things weren’t so rosy on the mound.
“We had a tough night pitching, no one was really sharp, to be honest,” he said. “It was a tough night pitching wise — both sides. A lot of walks out there.”
The teams were tied 2-2 through four innings before the Cornhuskers (8-15) looked to swing the momentum in their favor with a three-run home run from rightfielder Austin Darby to go ahead 5-2.
The Wildcats’ offense got really hot during the next three innings to answer. Shane Conlon and Jared King scored on an error by Nebraska first baseman Kash Kalkowski in the fifth, and then Jon Davis hit a sacrifice fly to score RJ Santigate and tie the game at five.
In the bottom of the sixth, Kivett doubled to score Kyle Speer, and then Tanner Witt tripled to score Kivett. King doubled to bring Witt in to score and put K-State ahead 8-5.
The Huskers scored a run in the top of the seventh to pull within two runs. But Kivett hit a two-run single in the bottom of the inning to score Blair DeBord and Davis, and the Huskers couldn’t come all the way back.
Hill said it was as good as the team has played offensively in awhile.
“We had big hits, we executed well, got some bunts down when we needed to and much better with men in scoring position,” he said. “We kind of lacked the two-out RBIs that we needed, but with less than two outs I thought we did a good job of driving runs in and getting good pitches to hit.”
The Wildcats trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the second when Kivett put the team on the board with a two-out single that brought in Davis. Kivett had a sac fly in the bottom of the fourth to score Davis and tie the game at two apiece.
Despite his performance, Kivett said much of the credit was due to the bottom of the lineup, which combined to go 2 for 4 at the plate with four walks, three sacrifice hits and a hit by pitch.
Levi MaVorhis got the win for the Wildcats, coming in relief in the fifth inning when K-State tied the game, and holding off the Huskers when it took the lead. MaVorhis pitched two innings and allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts.
Hill said he thought his pitching and the offensive efforts in the fifth and sixth inning were the turning point.
“Coming back and tying the score up really swung momentum our way,” he said. “And than Levi kind of came in and gave us just enough to keep momentum on our side.”
Jake Doller started the game for the Wildcats, but managed just 3 2/3 innings before exiting with two runs allowed on three hits, four walks and four strikeouts.
Blake McFadden didn’t have an easy go in relief, allowing three runs in just 2/3 of an inning pitched.
The game ended a 19-game homestand for the Wildcats, who will go on the road for the first time since early March when they open a three-game series at Baylor Thursday.