By Ryan Lackey
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas starting pitching Wes Benjamin threw a six-hit shutout and Kansas State surrendered four late runs as the Jayhawks evened the series with a 6-0 win Saturday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.
With the win, KU improved to 20-30 overall and 5-14 in Big 12 play, while the Wildcats fell to 23-28 on the year and 4-16 in league action.
Benjamin (3-7) allowed three K-State hits in the first two innings but did not see a Wildcat reach third base due to a double play and a caught stealing. Another double play erased a leadoff single in the fourth before the Wildcats put two runners on base with one out in the fifth thanks to a Matt Giller single and a Kyle Speer hit-by-pitch. Benjamin recorded a ground out, which moved both runners into scoring position, and he then forced Ross Kivett to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.
Giller’s fifth-inning single proved to be the final Kansas State hit of the night as Benjamin surrendered a two-out walk in the sixth before retiring the final 10 Wildcats to finish off his first career complete game. He gave up six hits and a walk to go along with eight strikeouts.
“Give him credit, he was in and out, and he mixed speeds on us,” head coach Brad Hill said. “We had a couple opportunities early in the game and just didn’t get the big hit. We had opportunities to really put him on the ropes, but we couldn’t step up and get the big hit.”
For a majority of the evening, K-State starter Joe Flattery (5-4) matched Benjamin as he worked 6.2 innings and threw a career-high 102 pitches. The left-hander, who did not issue a walk and struck out six batters, fanned the first Jayhawk he faced in the third inning before allowing a pair of base hits. Following his second strikeout of the frame, Flattery worked to a 2-2 count against Kevin Kuntz, who slapped a single up the middle to give KU a 2-0 lead.
Flattery bounced back with perfect fourth and fifth innings, while he worked around a leadoff single in the sixth. The left-hander gave up a one-out single in the seventh inning before recording his sixth strikeout, but Dakota Smith doubled into left-center field to make the score 3-0.
Kansas was led offensively by Smith and Tucker Tharp, who recorded two hits apiece. Tharp drove in two runs on a two-out single in the ninth inning, while KU plated an unearned run on a throwing error in the eighth.
K-State also saw two players register two-hit games in Kivett and Jared King. Giller and RJ Santigate collected the other two hits for the Wildcats, who were shut out by KU for the first time since 1983.
NEXT GAME: Sunday, May 13 vs. KANSAS (20-30 overall, 5-14 Big 12)
Kansas State will meet Kansas Sunday in Manhattan, Kan., looking to take its first Big 12 series of the season. The game can be heard in the Manhattan area on Sports Radio 1350 KMAN and online at 1350kman.com. KMAN’s own Matt Walters will have the call alongside Brian Smoller. Coverage on KMAN begins at 6 p.m. with the BD4 Distributing Pregame Show. First pitch set for 6:30 p.m.