Wildcats unable to finish comeback

By Nicolas Wahl

The Kansas State baseball team wanted to avoid a repeat of Friday night’s events — a game in which Wildcat head coach Brad Hill said his team “just gave in late.”

The Wildcats responded on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough, as seventh-ranked Oklahoma State survived a late comeback attempt and defeated K-State, 6-4, at Tointon Family Stadium.

“A lot more fight today,” Hill said. “It was no comparison to (Friday). “

Down two runs in the ninth, Ross Kivett led off with a single down the left-field line. Carter Yagi flied out to left, but Max Brown beat out a bunt for a single.

R.J. Santigate flied out before Austin Fisher was hit by a pitch with two outs to load the bases for freshman Tanner DeVinny.

But DeVinny couldn’t deliver, swinging and missing the final two pitches from Oklahoma State closer Brendan McCurry, who earned his 15th save.

K-State dropped to 24-27 overall and 4-16 in the Big 12, while the Cowboys improved to 37-13 and 15-5 in league play. The finale of the three-game series is today at 1.

“Bittersweet,” Santigate said. “We competed a lot better today. Obviously, the result didn’t happen, but the way we approached things is how we want to approach them. We just gotta keep building from that.”

The Wildcats, who didn’t have a base runner until the third inning Friday — got on the board early, scoring their first run without the ball ever leaving the infield.

Yagi’s grounder up the middle off Cowboys’ starter Kyle Buffett started it off, sending second baseman Tim Arakawa deep into the hole. Arakawa made a fine play, moving to his right, but the throw wasn’t in time.

Yagi stole second, and advanced to third on a grounder to the right side from Shane Conlon — who left the game with an apparent injury on the play. Santigate then legged out a high chopper to the first-base side, scoring Yagi to give K-State the 1-0 lead through one.

The Wildcats’ hustle was evident throughout, as five of their 11 hits for the game were of the infield variety.

“That’s being unselfish,” Hill said. “Not trying to do to much, just get up there be unselfish, and get on base.”

K-State sophomore Jake Matthys got his second start of the season for the Wildcats. Matthys, a dominant closer last year who’s struggled to recover from an offseason injury, dodged some bullets in the first inning, but was hit hard in the second.

Oklahoma State got to Matthys with two solo home runs in the inning. 

The first was from Zach Fish, who sent one over the high wall in the right-field corner. Two batters later, Conor Costello drilled a shot to dead center, well past the 400-foot marker to put the Cowboys up 2-1.

Matthys settled down in the third and fourth, but the Cowboys tagged him with two more runs on a two-run home run to right center from Dustin Williams in the fifth to make give OSU a 4-1 lead. A double from the next batter, Saulyer Saxon, chased Matthys in favor of reliever Jared Moore.

“He’s still not making quite the pitches we saw out of him last year, but it’s better,” Hill said. “It’s still better than what it was (earlier in the season), and to get us at least to the fifth with a chance is all you can ask out of him.”

Matthys (2-4) took the loss, giving up five runs — all earned — off six hits in four innings of work.

Moore couldn’t get out of the inning until two more Pokes crossed the plate — one of those credited to Matthys — to make it 6-1 heading into the K-State fifth. But the Wildcats fought back quickly.

A Kivett walk, followed by a single by Yagi, then an infield hit from Max Brown loaded the bases for Santigate. He walked to score Kivett, and the Cowboys turned to reliever Vince Wheeland.

Wheeland was then tagged with a sac fly from Austin Fisher that scored Yagi. The next batter, Tyler Stover, grounded into a possible double play, but a throwing error by OSU’s Arakawa allowed Brown to score, cutting the Cowboy’s lead to just 6-4.

Jake Fromson pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to give the Wildcats a chance late, but the bats didn’t come through.

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