Wildcats sweep series with Shockers

By The Mercury

WICHITA — Four Kansas State pitchers limited Wichita State to only one run on two hits as the Wildcats swept the season series from the Shockers for the first time since 2010 with a 4-1 victory Tuesday night at Eck Stadium.

K-State, which captured a 7-6 victory over the Shockers last week in Manhattan, improved to 27-11 on the year. The victory also completed the fourth sweep of WSU since 2005, while the Wildcats won in Wichita for the first time in three years. Wichita State fell to 21-17 with the loss.

The Wildcats got a jumpstart in the form of a Jared King three-run homer in the first inning, his fifth of the year and second in as many games.

From there, the pitching staff took over, as K-State no-hit the Shockers for the first 5 2/3 innings before an infield hit in the sixth. Jake Doller started and tossed three no-hit frames with two strikeouts, but was lifted due to four walks. Hayden Nixon (1-0) followed with 2 2/3 scoreless innings with a walk and a strikeout.

A freshman from Leonard, Texas, Nixon picked up his first-career win as entered following a leadoff walk in the fourth inning and proceeded to retire eight of the first nine batters he faced.

“It boiled down to our pitching, which did a pretty good job tonight,” K-Statehead coach Brad Hill said. “Nixon hasn’t pitched a whole lot, but he came in and threw strikes. I thought Gerardo (Esquivel) was outstanding and (Jake) Matthys was what he’s been capable of all year long.”

Esquivel took over for Nixon by retiring four straight batters before allowing a leadoff double in the eighth inning, which eventually scored on a Casey Gillaspie RBI groundout. Matthys finished off the game by working a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout to pick up his third save of the year.

The effort by the pitching staff was necessary as the Wildcats could only plate one more run — a Shane Conlon two-out RBI single in the fourth inning.

K-State registered its 28th contest with 10 or more hits this season, but the Wildcats stranded 13 base runners, including seven in scoring position.

“We still didn’t cash in on a couple other opportunities,” Hill said. “We have to be better at getting more two-out hits, but it was enough tonight.”

Blair DeBord and Austin Fisher each recorded their third three-hit games of the year. Conlon also added a multi-hit contest by going 2 for 5.

Wichita State starting pitcher Kris Gardner (1-5) took the loss, as he didn’t make it out of the first inning. The left-hander allowed the three runs on four hits with a walk.

K-State returns to Big 12 play this weekend with a three-game series at Oklahoma State beginning Friday at 7 p.m. from Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

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