It’s been quite the wave of emotions for the Kansas State baseball team this week.
The Wildcats began it with a confidence-shattering loss at home against Nebraska on Tuesday — a game K-State was hardly ever in the equation. But the week ended with a boost of confidence Saturday.
K-State shut-out Sacred Heart 7-0 Saturday afternoon in Tointon Family Stadium.
The win gave the Wildcats (17-14) their first three-game sweep of the season since winning a four-game series against Hartford earlier in the year. The victory is also K-State’s first shut-out of the season.
Senior Kayvon Bahramzadeh picked up the win for KSU and sophomore slugger Jared King broke out of a five-game slump that saw the Big 12’s fourth-leading batter enter this weekend’s series 3-for his last 20 with no RBIs.
King rebounded with a hit in each of Thursday and Friday’s contests, and Saturday he was even better with a 4-for-5 outing that included two RBIs and two runs scored.
“We got great pitching today… that was the key,” Wildcats head coach Brad Hill said. “It wasn’t a great offensive day, but Jared had a good day. Other than that we had some scratching and clawing, and found a way to score a few runs.”
The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the third inning before K-State drew first blood with a single to center field by King that plated Ross Kivett from third.
Both offenses struggled in the fourth inning, though, and after a 1-2-3 top of the fifth for Bahramzadeh — which included a ground out and two strikeouts — the Wildcat offense showed the firepower it displayed earlier in the season.
Senior shortstop Jake Brown began the bottom of the frame reaching base by a hit-by-pitch and stole second before Kivett singled to right-center on a 1-2 count.
Kivett then stole second and junior outfielder Tanner Witt — on a full count — tripled down the right-field line to add two more runs for the Wildcats.
King then reached on an error, which scored Witt. Like the batters that preceded him King found a way to steal second and senior first baseman Wade Hinkle drew a walk.
Sacred Heart (10-19) then pulled starting pitcher Kody Kerski, but K-State continued to improve its situation when senior third baseman Matt Giller laid down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt to advance the base runners.
Left fielder Jon Davis was hit by a pitch to juice the bases for the Wildcats and pinch-hitter Blair DeBord drew a walk to plate another KSU run.
A double-play ended the inning, but K-State came out of it with a 5-0 lead.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh and relievers Robert Youngdahl, who pitched the seventh, and Jake Doller, who threw the final two, were perfect to end the game for K-State.
“I just threw strikes and (tried to) give us a chance,” Bahramzadeh said. “Our defense has been playing great the last couple of games so I just felt if I could fill up the zone they could make plays behind me.”
Hill didn’t feel it was Bahramzadeh’s best outing, but was encouraged by the way he pitched.
Bahramzadeh yielded no runs on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in six innings of work.
“He competed,” Hill said. “He wasn’t real sharp today, to be honest. He was up in the zone and kind of got away with some things, but when he had to make the pitches, he did.”
King, who leads the team in batting and jumped from .369 to .388 after Saturday, said he felt much better about his swing.
“I’ve been struggling for about a week or two,” he said. “It’s just been a lot of timing issues with my swing and with my front foot. It worked today, so hopefully we’ll keep it rolling.
“I was getting jammed a lot and my front foot wasn’t down when it should be and I’ve been battling it for awhile but today I was able to get it down in time. It’s something so minor, but every little thing can effect the outcome.”
King said after the first couple hits Saturday, he felt more like himself.
“I was able to get right back in the groove of things,” he said. “I was more confident as each at-bat came, so it was very good.
“It was good to get our feet back under us today.”
The Wildcats will have a challenging week ahead.
K-State will travel to Missouri State on Wednesday and will host Baylor next weekend. Missouri State has been receiving votes in the polls while Baylor is ranked in top 10 in various publications.
SACRED HEART 0
Sacred Heart 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 3 2
Kansas State 0 0 1 0 4 0 2 0 x — 7 10 0
WP — Bahramzadeh (4-1). LP — Kerski (1-4).
2B — K-State 1 (King). 3B — K-State 1 (Witt).
Both teams struggled to find offense throughout the early innings of the game, but K-State was able to get going in the bottom of the fifth and kept charging.
The Wildcats defeated Sacred Heart 6-1.
Junior left-hander Joe Flattery got the win for K-State and pitched 5 1/3 innings. Flattery allowed just one run on four hits, walked three and struck out six.
KSU’s Matt Wivinis — a freshman righty — pitched the rest of the way and shut out the Pioneers. He gave up just three hits, walked none, and struck out seven.
Witt was the best bat for K-State Friday with a 2-for-5 outing that included a RBI. Kivett led the team with three RBIs.
“Pitching was good,” Hill said. “Joe threw really good for five and we’ll take it. But there has to be more in the tank. He’s kind of been a five-inning guy for four weeks now — and in command of what he’s doing. You’d like him to go into the sixth or seventh, but he hasn’t been able to do that, but we’ll take the five.”
The Wildcats scored two in the fifth, three in the sixth and another in the bottom of the seventh to keep Sacred Heart at bay.
Neither team was able to post anything more than a single.
SACRED HEART 1
Sacred Heart 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 1 7 1
Kan sas State 0 0 0 0 2 3 1 0 x — 6 9 0
WP — Flattery (4-2). LP — Scribner (2-4). Save — Wivinis (1).