After securing its first-ever Big 12 title Friday night with a win over Oklahoma, the threat of a let-down loomed over Saturday’s game for the Kansas State baseball team.
This game would have no league title implications, no fanfare and a smaller crowd.
It didn’t matter, though.
K-State got five strong innings from starter Joe Flattery and the offense continued to do what it’s done all year, pounding out 11 hits in a 5-2 K-State win.
“It was hard to get going today, we needed a great pitching effort and again, we found a way to get a few runs,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “Mitch (Meyer) with another big hit - he keeps coming through in big situations for us.”
Flattery cruised through the first four innings, facing the minimum and not allowing a hit before Hector Lorenzana’s single to lead off the fifth. After Anthony Hermelyn’s single put runners on first and second and a sacrifice bunt moved them over, Flattery got a swinging strikeout and a pop out to escape without allowing a run.
Flattery came out two batters later in the fifth after allowing an infield single to leadoff hitter Craig Akin, ceding to reliever Gerardo Esquivel.
“I came in with the mindset of knowing we needed a good start this game, because last night’s game was a lot of emotion clinching the Big 12,” Flattery said. “I figured we’d be a little slow, so it was important to come out sharp.
Flattery said after last night’s celebration, coming back to work Saturday was tough for everyone.
“It’s hard to sit through last night’s game, especially afterwards, knowing you have to start tomorrow,” he said. “You kind of wish yesterday’s was the last game we played in the season.”
Hill said Flattery, who returned to a starting role after seeing time out of the bullpen, was effective because he kept attacking the zone.
“He was ahead in the count, mixing his pitches and he was aggressive,” Hill said. “Much more aggressive and no walks. He was attacking the zone well.”
Offensively, Meyer played the hero in Saturday’s game, coming up with the big hit of the night - a two-run single - in the seventh inning to give K-State a 5-0 lead.
“I struggled at the beginning of the season, so it’s nice for me to be able to have confidence to come in and have my team feel that I can get the job done,” Meyer said. “It also goes back to pitching, they didn’t give up any runs, and that takes a lot of stress off you as a hitter, because you know your pitching is going to go out and put up zeros.”
Leading 1-0, K-State knocked Oklahoma starter Ralph Garza Jr. out of the game with a double by Meyer and a single by Blair DeBord with one out in the sixth inning. The Sooners turned to left-hander Dillon Overton, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s game.
RJ Santigate drew a walk from Overton to load the bases, with Lance Miles hitting into a double-play opportunity, but Lorenzana’s throw from second to first was off line, allowing two runs to score and stake K-State to a 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats slammed the door shut with two runs in the seventh inning after Witt led off with a base hit and Conlon reached on a perfectly-placed bunt to prompt another Sooner pitching change. OU reliever Kindle Ladd managed to induce a groundout from Jared King, but hit Jon Davis with a pitch to load the bases. That’s when Meyer delivered, hitting a two-run single to right to score two.
OU got its two runs in the top of the ninth after Max White tripled off reliever Jake Matthys to lead off the inning and Lorenzana drove him in with a dribbler to third base that Santigate had no play on. A fielder’s choice by Matt Oberste scored the second run. Matthys earned his sixth save of the season by retiring Garrett Carey on a groundout.
Today’s series finale with Oklahoma will begin at 11 a.m. because of the threat of severe weather in the afternoon.