Kansas State head coach Brad Hill was in better spirits following Saturday afternoon’s contest with Pacific in Tointon Family Stadium, and for good reason.
His team rebounded from a frustrating loss and demolished the Tigers 12-1.
“A little better than yesterday,” Hill said. “What we are trying to do is to get guys not to press so much and it just felt like we were pressing yesterday really bad.
“Getting on top early helps too, and then the start on the mound. You get a guy who goes out on the mound and throws those zeros up there it makes it a lot easier.”
Junior starting pitcher Joe Flattery allowed just one run on five hits, struck out four and had no walks in five innings of work.
Freshman right-hander Matt Wivinis relieved Flattery for two innings and Caleb Wallingford — another freshman — threw for the eighth. Outfielder Tanner Witt — who was a pitcher in high school — was on the mound for the final inning.
“I wanted to give us a good start today because yesterday it seemed like we really got down on ourselves early,” Flattery, who is a left-hander, said. “So I really wanted to keep us in the game later because I knew our bats were going to kick in.”
K-State scored a run in the bottom of the first and Flattery posted zeros in his first three innings — and like he predicted, the bats soon came alive for the Wildcats.
Taking advantage of Tiger pitching miscues in the bottom of the third, K-State loaded up the bases after a series of walks, a passed ball and a wild pitch. Another walk drawn by the Wildcats’ Matt Giller scored a run and a single to right center brought home senior infielder Wade Hinkle and sophomore catcher Blair DeBord. A sacrifice fly by junior Jon Davis, the designated hitter, plated Giller and capped off K-State’s four-run inning.
After another scoreless inning in the top of the fourth for Pacific, Witt opened the order in the bottom of the frame with a triple and after standing at third base two outs later, he was brought to home plate with an RBI single to right field by Hinkle. An RBI single from Giller then scored Hinkle, who advanced to second base previous to the hit due to a wild pitch, and the Wildcats were ahead 7-0 after four innings.
A two-run home run by center fielder Jared King — his first of the season — finished off another four-run inning for K-State in the bottom of the fifth, and the Wildcats cruised from there.
“We just came out, swung the bats and the rest took care of itself,” King said. “We had good starting pitching by Joe so, yeah, that was big for us.”
King, who was selected to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team last season, was the top bat for K-State. He was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, a home run, two runs scored and a walk drawn.
“I just keep continuing with the same approach,” King said. “I just try to get pitches up in the zone and get something good to hit. That’s been my approach the whole season.”
King said Saturday’s win was good for morale after the beating the Wildcats took Friday.
“It’s good, because we know what our capabilities are,” he said. “We’re a very strong team, it’s just about how it clicks. I think we are still figuring that out, but I think as the season goes on, it’s going to start getting a lot better.”
K-State will conclude the series with Pacific this afternoon, with a noon first pitch at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-STATE 12, PACIFIC 1
Pacific 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 — 1 7 1
K-State 1 0 4 2 4 1 0 0 X — 12 12 0
WP: Flattery (2-1) LP: Haberman (0-1)
3B – K-State (Witt). HR – K-State (King).
The K-State offense struggled and the Wildcats dropped just their third home opener in the last 12 Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium.
Pacific prevailed 7-2.
“We just had a real hard time relaxing,” Hill said after the game. “To me, we acted like it was almost our first game of the year. It (was) our first game (home), not our first game of the year.
“There was a lot of tight swings and some over-reacting type things. We just didn’t really settle down, relax and play well today.”
Wildcat starter Matt Applegate pitched four innings before being relieved in the top of the fifth by sophomore left hander Shane Conlon.
Applegate, a senior, surrendered five runs on six hits, walked four and struck out four. Conlon threw for three innings and held the Tigers to no runs, three hits, no walks and posted two strikeouts. Junior Jake Doller pitched the eighth inning and sophomore Gerado Esquivel finished the contest in the ninth.
The Wildcats were tied after the first inning 1-1, but Pacific plated runs in the second and third innings to lead K-State 3-2 going into the fifth.
The Tigers added two more in the following inning and another two in the top of the ninth, while the Wildcats were held to zeros.
Witt was 1-for-3 with a run and a walk drawn for KSU, while Pacific right fielder Allen Riley was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Right hander Michael Benson got the win on the mound for the Tigers. The freshman pitched seven innings and allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits, struck out five and walked one. Senior John Prato Matthews closed out the final two innings and got the save for Pacific.
PACIFIC 7, K-STATE 2
Pacific 1 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 2 — 7 12 1
K-State 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 2 6 1
WP: Benson (1-1) LP: Applegate (0-2) Save: Matthews (1)
2B — Pacific 2 (Christopher, Drongensen). K-State 2 (Kivett, Witt). HR – Pacific (Christopher, Riley).