By Chris Kutz, K-State Athletics Communications
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The K-State baseball team allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to allow West Virginia to clinch the series with a 6-5 walk-off win on Saturday at Hawley Field.
A two-run home run by Blair DeBord gave K-State (23-21, 4-10 Big 12) a 5-2 lead in the third, but neither team scored a run after the third inning until the three-run ninth by the Mountaineers (23-16, 6-7 Big 12).
Jake Matthys issued a leadoff walk followed by a double in the ninth before he threw a wild pitch to score the first West Virginia run. The right-hander went on to walk Michael Constantini to put runners at first and third, and he threw a first-pitch ball to Taylor Munden before he was spelled by Ethan Landon.
Landon walked Munden to load the bases and induced a sacrifice fly that not only allowed West Virginia to tie the game at 5-5, but it also moved pinch runner Justin Fox from second to third base. With runners on the corners, Billy Fleming hit a ground ball to K-State first baseman Shane Conlon, who tried to turn a 3-6-1 double play but was only able to get the one out at second base on the fielder’s choice. Fox crossed home to score the game-winning run after Austin Fisher’s throw from second to first was too late.
K-State out-hit West Virginia, 12-7, but the Wildcats had three hits and stranded four runners after the third inning. K-State left eight base runners on in the entire game while West Virginia left seven.
“That is the hard about today,” said Hill. “We didn’t do the little things to win games. We could have knocked down a couple two-out RBIs to put the thing out of reach, and walking the leadoff batter in the ninth set ourselves up for disaster.”
K-State reliever Jake Fromson was called upon in the first inning after starting pitcher Jordan Floyd walked three of the four batters he faced, and Fromson ended up allowing one run in a career-high 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander retired 10 batters in a row at one point.
Senior Jared Moore added two innings of relief, holding West Virginia to one hit and no runs. Moore entered the game in the sixth with a runner on second base, but the left-hander struck out pinch hitter Jackson Cramer to leave the inning unscathed.
“Competitiveness today was so much better – I couldn’t talk after the game yesterday because there was a lack of competitiveness,” said Hill. “It hurts worse today [compared to yesterday], but that is because we competed hard.”
The Wildcats scored the game’s first run in the first when Ross Kivett led off with a single and stole second base before RJ Santigate’s single moved Kivett to third. Fisher followed up with the Wildcats’ third straight hit to drive in Kivett and make it 1-0 K-State.
West Virginia answered quickly in the bottom of the first with two runs on a Brad Johnson single, but the Wildcats jumped back ahead in the second when Carter Yagi’s RBI double and Kivett’s RBI single made it 3-2 K-State.
DeBord added to the lead in the third with his first home run of the season that also scored Shane Conlon. It was the senior’s first roundtripper since May 17, 2012 at Texas Tech.
West Virginia cut it to 5-3 with a sacrifice fly by Jacob Rice in the third inning.
West Virginia starting pitcher John Means allowed five runs – all in the first three frames – before he finished the day throwing 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander surrendered 12 hits, but just three after DeBord’s home run in the third.
Ryan Tezak picked up the win, his third of the season, after holding K-State to no hits or runs in his 2 1/3 innings of relief.
Matthys took the loss after he was responsible for three runs in 1/3 of an inning. It was the right-hander’s third blown save this season.
K-State will look to salvage a win in the series in the finale on Sunday, April 27 at 11 am CT/12 pm ET. Right-hander Nate Griep will start for the Wildcats and face left-hander Ross Vance.
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