The Kansas State baseball team rebounded after a poor showing in its Big 12 series opener with West Virginia Friday night and pitched its way to a 4-3 win over the Mountaineers Saturday afternoon in Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats (12-7, 2-1 Big 12) lost the first game of Friday’s doubleheader 13-2 and won the nightcap 6-5.
In Saturday’s game, the pitching of Wildcats’ starter Matt Wivinis and freshman reliever Jake Matthys was key.
After giving up three runs out of the gate, Wivinis, a sophomore righty, shut out the Mountaineers (8-11, 1-2) the rest of the way. For the game, Wivinis surrendered seven hits, walked four and struck out five through seven innings.
Matthys — who came to the mound after Wivinis gave up lead-off triple to WVU’s Matt Frazer to begin the seventh — wasn’t intimidated. The right-hander from Spring Lake Park, Minn., put up zeros.
Matthys gave up no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out three in the final two innings.
Wivinis was awarded the win to improve to 3-0, while Matthys earned his first save.
“It starts with Matt Wivinis,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “You don’t want to give up three in the first, but what’s important is after the first inning for him, and it’s all zeros after that. Credit to him — he competed. He didn’t have good stuff, but finally in the fifth inning he started making some better pitches and got the ball down in the zone.
“The other important thing was getting the three-spot for us (in the bottom of the second) to take some of the pressure off early in the game.”
Hill was also high on the performance of his freshman hurler.
“He’s a good competitor,” he said about Matthys. “He didn’t have such a good go against Cal Poly ( last weekend) and got hit around. He came in (this week), watched film and the coaches challenged him a little bit.
“He’s a freshman kid, but he really shows a lot of composure and toughness. You like a guy on the mound like that. He wasn’t scared. There was no fear, there. He was attacking them.”
Offensively, K-State was led by junior catcher Blair DeBord and senior outfielder Tanner Witt with two hits and an RBI apiece. Junior second baseman Ross Kivett added an RBI double.
K-State got the lead in the bottom of the fifth when the Wildcats took advantage of a tired John Means – WVU’s starting pitcher.
First baseman Shane Conlon opened the inning and reached base when he was hit by the pitch. Junior centerfielder Jason King singled to left. Senior Jon Davis followed Conlon and King with a single to third that loaded the bases.
K-State then plated the eventual game-winning run when RJ Santigate was beaned in the back by Means.
“We showed a lot of heart,” Wivinis said about the Wildcats’ bounce-back after the Game 1 loss. “We just battled through each and every game, and it’s a testament to our players. We just have to keep doing it.
“It’s a great way to start Big 12 play.”
Wivinis was impressed by the play of Matthys.
“He did great out there,” he said. “He did exactly what we needed him to do. It was just a (gutsy) performance.”