It may have been Kansas State’s eighth straight win, but the real story was Levi MaVorhis, who tossed a two-hit shutout in the Wildcats’ 10-0 victory over Northern Colorado on Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium.
MaVorhis (3-1) had a perfect game through six innings before surrendering a leadoff single to start the seventh. He later allowed a bunt single with two outs in the eighth inning. The sophomore matched his career high with eight strikeouts, needing only 85 pitches for his first-career complete game.
It was K-State’s first two-hitter since 2005 when Chase Mitchell accomplished the feat against KU.
“I felt locked in,” MaVorhis said. “Any position player you try and stay locked in for every game, but thankfully today I had it working a little bit.”
Of his eight strikeouts, four came in the eighth and ninth innings, showing MaVorhis still had plenty left in the tank at the end of the game.
“Eighty-five pitches in nine innings is outstanding,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “His ball was good. He would throw balls at the plate and they would bottom out. A lot of big hop ground balls.”
MaVorhis and the defense responded after the right-hander allowed his first hit of the game to Jake Ekman, who snaked a line drive over the glove of second baseman Carter Yagi, by retiring the next three batters in succession.
The Freeland, Wash., native would get burned again in the next inning after two straight strikeouts. The Wildcat defense made a noticeable shift toward the right side of the field as Northern Colorado’s Cody Harrison stepped to the plate.
Noticing the shift, Harrison laid down a soft bunt right in front of catcher Alex Bee, who got a clean throw off in time to Conlon, but was ruled safe when the umpire said Conlon’s foot was off the bag.
“We won’t (make that shift) if the game is a little tighter than that,” Hill said. “We’re up 10 runs and they’re going to bunt up there. That’s their option.”
Even though this is the closest MaVorhis has come to pitching a perfect game since high school junior varsity days, he wasn’t upset about giving up the two hits.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “I’m just happy with the outing.”
Defensively the Wildcats were absolutely sharp. Kivett made a series of diving catches in the middle innings, while the infielders were able to field every grounder cleanly.
“Everybody is on their toes when they’re throwing a lot of strikes and there’s a lot of contact,” Hill said. “Your defense is going to be ready to play and makes them alert. And you get plays like that.”
As great as MaVorhis and his defense was, the bats were even better.
Austin Fisher drove in four runs on three hits — his biggest coming in the second inning off Northern Colorado starting pitcher Connor Leedholm (0-3) when he blasted a two-run home run to put the Wildcats up by five, providing early insurance for MaVorhis.
Overall, K-State scored 10 runs on 14 hits Friday. Every Wildcat starter recorded a hit, including Tanner Devinney who had a pair of hits with two RBIs.
MaVorhis, though pleased with his big night, is ready to move on and get ready for his next game when he faces Big 12 batters next weekend in Norman, Okla.
“This outing is over,” he said. “We got Oklahoma next weekend, so I need to get ready for that outing.”
Before meeting the Sooners, however, K-State will host Air Force for a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday this week — Tuesday’s game beginning at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday’s first pitch set for 3 p.m.