After breaking a nine-game losing streak Friday night, the Kansas State baseball team is officially on another streak after Saturday afternoon — on the winning side of the ledger.
The Wildcats defeated Nebraska-Omaha 14-5 in Tointon Family Stadium and now lead the series against the Mavericks 2-0.
K-State will conclude the series today at 1 p.m.
Wildcats starting pitcher Joe Flattery pitched his longest outing of the season, lasting seven innings for the win. The outing was the third-longest for any K-State pitcher this season.
Jake Brown, Dan Klein and Ross Kivett each posted three hits for the Wildcats, but the most effective hitter of the day for K-State was one who didn’t net a hit, nor even take much of a swing.
Junior right fielder Tanner Witt was 0-for-0 Saturday afternoon, but proved that patience and a good eye can still get results. Witt drew a K-State record six walks, which also tied a Big 12 record.
“Tanner Witt really showed maturity with six walks,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “For a young guy to go up there, get walked six times, and still not take a swing at a bad pitch — that was very, very mature of him.”
Witt said it was difficult at times to fight the urge to take a swing at some of the pitches he was seeing, but acknowledged that cooler heads prevailed.
“The first two were just me seeing pitches,” said Witt, who has pitched at times late in games for the Wildcats. “After those, I got a little antsy at the plate, so I wanted to swing, but I’m not going to swing at balls not in the strike zone, so, I’ll take six on-bases instead of some line-outs.”
Flattery, K-State’s junior lefty, gave up three runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out five in seven innings of work. His catcher, Klein, was happy to see Flattery log more innings.
“Joe pitched really well,” Klein said. “Every start, we tell him to go seven… we tell him to go eight, and today he really did that. He competed and his sixth inning was really his best inning, we thought, so we threw him out for the seventh and did well for us, too.
“It was good to see him do that.”
The Mavericks (12-34) got on the scoreboard first with a sacrifice fly by Mark Waldron in the top of the first, but K-State (21-27) matched the run in the bottom of the frame when Witt scored from third as Jon Davis grounded out to first.
The Wildcats scored again in the bottom of the second, but distanced themselves from Nebraska-Omaha in the bottom of the fourth with a four-run performance — propelled by a Jared King triple and a single to center by first baseman Wade Hinkle.
K-State scored an additional run in each of the next two innings, and although Nebraska-Omaha piled on four runs in the top of the eighth to narrow the deficit to 8-5, the Wildcats went big in the bottom of the inning with a six-run showing that gave K-State all the cushion it needed to put the game away in the ninth.
Sophomore right-hander Gerardo Esquivel pitched the final two innings for K-State, while the Mavericks went four-deep in the bullpen after starter Matt Tew was relieved in the bottom of the fourth.
“Offensively, I was really happy with our guys,” Hill said. “Run production, that comes from a couple things… guys being unselfish and getting the ball up the middle to the other side of the yard. We did that today.”
Hill was also pleased with the way his team responded after Nebraska-Omaha put up four runs in the top of the eighth to make it a three-run contest.
“It’s important to come back and not let momentum stay on the other team’s side,” Hill said. “We put up a big number there at the end in the bottom of the inning to take it away, and that took a lot of pressure off Gerardo.”
Nebraska-Omaha 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 — 5 8 2
Kansas State 1 1 0 4 1 1 0 6 X — 14 16 0
WP — Flattery (5-3). LP — Tew (1-5). Save — None.
2B — Nebraska-Omaha (McCord). K-State 4 (Kivett, King, Santigate, Brown). 3B — K-State 2 (Kivett, King). HR — K-State 2 (Hinkle, Klein).