With two outs and the winning run on third base, Kansas State was looking for Blair DeBord to win the game in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday.
Instead, the winning play came in the form of a passed ball, allowing Shane Conlon to score from third and complete a six-run rally that led to the Wildcats beating Wichita State 7-6 at Tointon Family Stadium on a cold, rainy night.
It was the second time in the last four games that K-State won a game in walk-off style.
The Wildcats’ (23-10) rally began with one out in the bottom of the eighth with K-State trailing 6-1. Jared King drove in the first run on a single that scored Ross Kivett and DeBord drove in Tanner Witt with a single to cut the Shockers’ lead to four runs.
RJ Santigate grounded out to score King and then Jon Davis drove in DeBord with a single. Austin Fisher hit a two-out double to score Davis and tie the game at six.
Kivett said despite early offensive struggles, the team stuck with it and finally got it going in the eighth inning.
“It was a gutty effort in the eighth, it was just unbelievable and I’m glad I was a part of it,” he said. “Whenever we have at-bats we don’t think we’re out of it. We’re a team that plays fast, and sometimes when we get out of a groove we have to calm it down, pull the sails back and realize that we’re a good team, and that’s what we did.
“We started having good at-bats in the sixth and the seventh, and it broke out in the eighth.”
Conlon got on first on an infield single to start the ninth, and a single from King moved him to third base.
DeBord came to the plate with two outs and got down in the count 0-2. But he fought back to a full count at 3-2, and Brandon Peterson’s final pitch got away from catcher Tyler Baker and deflected away. Conlon dashed home before Baker could recover, giving the Wildcats their sixth straight win.
K-State coach Brad Hill said it was an interesting night for his team.
“It was kind of a Jekyll and Hyde night,” he said. “We didn’t come to play early, and they exposed us, and then we gave them a big inning, and that’s not easy to come back from. A lot of teams would just lay down and let them have it. A lot of credit to our guys not letting them just take the game from them.”
Jake Matthys took the win for the Wildcats, pitching the final two innings of the game and allowing just two hits while striking out two. Jake Doller started the game for the Wildcats, going four innings and allowing two runs on three hits, three walks and two strikeouts.
The teams fought dreadful weather conditions throughout the game, as a cold front moved in and dropped the temperature into the low 40s. Patches of rain also moved in and out of the area, ranging from a light sprinkle to a downpour.
But the weather only delayed the start of the game by 15 minutes. The true effects were seen in the wetness around the field. Pitchers asked for dryer baseballs and batters routinely called for time to wipe off their bats. And on a few occasions, the bat got away and slid out of the batter’s hands.
The Shockers (18-16) opened the game with a two-run first inning, scoring on a wild pitch from Doller and a groundout. K-State scored a run in the fourth inning when DeBord singled in King to make it 2-1.
But the Shockers looked to put the game away in the seventh inning, getting a bases loaded triple from Cody Bobbit to score three runs, and a sacrifice fly to bring in Bobbit and make it 6-1.
The Wildcats’ offense was paced by a 3-for-3 day from DeBord, who added two RBIs and a walk. King was the only other Wildcat to have a multi-hit game, finishing 3 for 5 with two runs and an RBI.
Hill said the Wildcats narrowly missed a negative outcome against the Shockers on Tuesday, but they hope it provides some more fuel as the team heads to a series at Iowa starting on Friday.
“You hope it’s momentum, but I talked before the game and it almost came to fruition, that you’re always three hours from putting yourself in a bad situation, and we almost were,” he said. “We almost put ourselves in a bad situation by not being ready to play. We were almost three hours away from trying to repair something.”
Wednesday’s game canceled
Due to inclement weather forecasted for Wednesday night, K-State’s game at Omaha has been canceled and will not be made up.
The Wildcats will be back in action this weekend with a three-game series at Iowa, Friday through Sunday. Friday’s game, which begins at 6 p.m., and Saturday’s contest, which is slated for 1 p.m., will be played at Duane Banks Stadium in Iowa City. The series finale is scheduled for approximately 3:45 p.m., at Principal Park in Des Moines.