Wildcats stomp Shockers 20-11 to open NCAA tournament

By Joel Jellison

The Kansas State baseball team followed up a rough start with a crazy finish, all in the first inning Friday, on the way to a 20-11 victory over Wichita State in the opening game of the Manhattan NCAA Regional.

Wichita State opened the game with a pair of quick runs in the first inning at Tointon Family Stadium. But K-State answered back in a big way in the bottom half of the inning when the Wildcats scored nine runs on three Shocker pitchers — highlighting an inning that lasted 49 minutes.

K-State (42-17) scored at least two runs in five different innings Friday, but Wildcats coach Brad Hill said the win was anything but pretty.

“That was kind of ugly,” he said. “I don’t think either team wanted to play like that — it just wasn’t a good game either way. We won, that’s the big thing about it, and obviously offensively we did a tremendous job.”

It was K-State’s third win over the Shockers this season as the Wildcats advanced to play Bryant on Saturday night. Bryant upset Arkansas 4-1 on Friday.

Ross Kivett led the Wildcats with a 4-for-5 afternoon, hitting his second and third home runs of his career to finish with four RBIs. Jon Davis was 2 for 3 with four RBIs of his own for the Wildcats, who pounded out 19 hits on the day and forced Wichita State to use seven different pitchers.

Austin Fisher, in his first game back after an injury caused him to miss last weekend’s Big 12 tournament, finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs.

Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson said his team’s pitching wasn’t good enough to beat a hot-hitting team.

“You can’t expect to have easy innings unless you’re pitching really well,” he said. “It really was a dreadful first inning and we cannot afford to do that again.”

The Shockers (39-27) scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning on a groundout by Casey Gillaspie and a double by Johnny Coy. The top of the inning ended when Coy tried to leap over K-State catcher Blair DeBord at the plate, and failed to score.

That seemed to light a fire for the Wildcats, who would respond with nine runs in the bottom of the inning, forcing the Shockers to use three different pitchers to get three outs.

Wichita State’s Cale Elam took the loss after giving up six runs on four hits and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning pitched.

The run-scoring started with a bases-loaded single by Davis to bring in Kivett. Then Mitch Meyer singled to score Jared King.

Davis would score on a pick-off attempt of Meyer, as Shockers’ second baseman Tanner Dearman lost the handle on the ball during a rundown and Davis escaped home from third.

Fisher singled to score Meyer and DeBord. King and Davis each drew bases loaded walks to push the Wildcats ahead 9-2.

DeBord said stopping Coy at the plate seemed to turn the momentum back in the Cats’ favor.

“I was up the line, and it was a great throw by Tanner (Witt), he got a bad jump, I couldn’t believe they sent him — he was out by a long ways,” DeBord said. “I think the out, in general, gave us some momentum. I think it got the crowd back into it. I think everyone was shocked by the two runs, and we just couldn’t throw any strikes.”

The Shockers cut into the lead in the third inning, forcing K-State starter Levi MaVorhis out of the game with a two-run double from Gillaspie.

MaVorhis left the game after two innings pitched, allowing four runs on four hits, with three walks and a hit batter.

The Wildcats added a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, as Meyer delivered a two-run double to left-center field.

K-State put up another run in the fourth, scoring RJ Santigate with a Fisher double to go ahead 12-4. WSU hadn’t given up more than 11 runs in a game this season prior to Friday.

The Shockers would add two more runs in the fifth on a double from Coy, cutting the lead to 12-6. K-State got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning on a balk that scored King. The Shockers then doubled home a run in the top of the sixth to make it 13-7.

Kivett hit his first home run of the day — a two-run shot —  in the bottom of the sixth to put the Cats up 15-7. Davis then hit a bases-loaded sac fly to score Witt.

Kivett blasted his second two-run homer an inning later to extend the Cats lead to 18-7.

Wichita State plated a pair of runs in the eighth on a two-out throwing error by K-State shortstop Lance Miles.

DeBord capped the Wildcats’ scoring with a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth. Every player in K-State’s starting lineup scored Friday.

Jared Moore earned the win for the Wildcats, pitching 2 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on four hits with four strikeouts.

The Shockers were led by Coy and Gillaspie, who combined to go 3 for 8 with six RBIs.

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