Cats Take Series Opener From Texas

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K-State’s TK McWhertor and Brett Owen each drove in two runs while starting pitcher Kasey Ford picked up his fourth win of the season in helping the Wildcats take the series opener from Texas, 5-2, Thursday night at Tointon Family Stadium.

McWhertor and Owen delivered back-to-back RBI doubles to hand Ford a three-run lead after two innings. Ford, who allowed just two hits in 5 1/3 innings of work, gave K-State (14-12, 1-3 Big 12) its first win over Texas (16-11, 5-2 Big 12) since 2016.

“Kasey competed,” said head coach Brad Hill. “He probably wasn’t as sharp but made pitches when he had to. He just set the tone with his competitiveness. Not having his best stuff but competing through that and on a short rest this week. But, again, he set the tone with his competitiveness on the mound.”

K-State’s 6-foot-6 right-handed sophomore pitched around trouble, as Ford walked a career-high six hitters. However, Ford and the rest of the Wildcat pitching staff limited Texas to a 1-for-15 (.067) night with runners in scoring position and 11 runners left on base.

Ford was given a 3-0 lead after two innings following Owen’s two-run double. After Texas cut the Cats’ lead to two with a run in the third, McWhertor drove in his second run with a one-out single in the fourth that brought home Rainer Ausmus who earlier doubled. McWhertor, a redshirt junior, went 3-for-4 with a run scored.

“I was just trying to stay relaxed and not be late, if they fed me a fastball I was hammering it,” McWhertor said of his approach at the plate. “It was all for all, one for one, fighting for each other and having each other’s backs.”

The Longhorns again made it a two-run game with a run in the seventh off K-State reliever Jared Marolf. UT’s Jake McKenzie and Kody Clemens started the inning with a single and double, respectively, and McKenzie would later score on a sacrifice fly from Masen Hibbeler.

Marolf, who entered the game in the sixth inning after Ford issued his sixth free pass, finished with 1 2/3 innings with a strikeout and an earned run on two hits.

McWhertor added his third hit in the bottom of the eighth inning to move Kyle Barfield to third base. Barfield would come home on a wild pitch from Longhorn reliever Parker Joe Robinson for the Cats’ final run of the ballgame.

Sophomore righty Tyler Eckberg collected his first save of the year after throwing the game’s final two innings and allowing just one base hit with a strikeout.

Ausmus and Owen each had two hits with a double in the game. Owen had two run batted in.

Clemens and leadoff hitter Tate Shaw were each 2-for-5 with a double for Texas.

Longhorn starter Blair Henley took the loss after giving up nine hits and four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.

K-State and Texas continue the series Friday with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch from Tointon Family Stadium.

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