Missouri State upends Cats for road loss

By The Mercury

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State scored three unearned runs, including two in the first inning, and the Bear pitching staff forced the Kansas State baseball team to strand 13 runners as MSU blanked K-State 3-0 Wednesday at Hammons Field.

With the win, Missouri State moved to 25-10, while K-State dropped to 17-15.

The Wildcats put pressure on Missouri State pitching all night, as they out-hit the Bears 8-2. Eight of the stranded runners, however, were left in scoring position and K-State struck out 13 times on the evening, which tied a season high.

K-State’s pitching staff kept the Wildcats in the game all evening. Missouri State scored in the first inning when a two-out pop up in the infield was dropped, which resulted in the first run. Keenan Maddox was next and ripped a double off K-State starter Jared Moore (2-3) into the left-center field gap giving the Bears a 2-0 lead.

But after that RBI double, Moore settled down to retire the next seven batters before Tanner Witt, who began the game as the designated hitter, pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth innings. Caleb Wallingford and Johnny Fasola finished out the game without allowing an earned run as the final Bears run of the night came on a two-out error in the eighth inning.

Moore suffered the tough-luck loss after surrendering just one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Missouri State’s Jake Powers (2-0) picked up the win by tossing six shutout innings, working around five hits and a walk. The right-hander’s off-speed pitches kept the Wildcats off balance all night as he struck out a career-high tying nine batters.

Zach Merciez followed Powers with a scoreless seventh, while Grant Gordon and Tyler Burgess closed out the game for Missouri State. Burgess allowed a hit and a walk, but he struck out three batters en route to his seventh save of the season.

K-State had great opportunities to either tie or take the lead several times throughout the game. The Wildcats loaded the bases with no one out in the fourth with three straight base hits, but a strikeout and two flyball outs ended the frame. The very next inning, K-State put runners on second and third with one out before a strikeout and groundout kept the deficit at two.

Down to their final few chances, Wildcat freshmen Austin Fisher and Kyle Speer reached base with a double and a walk, respectively, in the eighth. Fisher and Speer, who both entered the game defensively the previous inning, were then stranded by an inning-ending strikeout.

One bright spot for the Wildcat offense was the performance of Jared King, who was 3-for-4 after a four-hit performance against Sacred Heart on Saturday. Witt was 1-for-3 with a walk to extend his career-long streak of reaching base safely to 25 straight games. The streak is the longest by a Wildcat this season and the second-longest in the Big 12 this season.

K-State returns home to face fifth-ranked Baylor in a three-game set Friday through Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium.

Friday’s game, which begins at 6:30 p.m., serves as Military Appreciation Night as military personnel can receive a general admission bench ticket for just $3.

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