Eighth-Inning Surge Pushes K-State Past Omaha

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Dylan Watts’ two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a scoreless tie and lifted K-State to a 3-0 victory over Omaha Tuesday at Tointon Family Stadium. That’s according to a release from K-State Athletics.

K-State (13-12) used five pitchers to combine on the shutout of Omaha (9-14) and snap its four-game losing skid. It is the first shutout of the season thrown by the Wildcats.

“We needed it,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Pitchers were great tonight. They all came in and did their jobs. We had a pitch limit on them and they all did a great job tonight and we had to have it, we didn’t score a lot of runs.

“We were trying to shorten down [swings]and punch it through the middle,” added Hill. “Big, long swings tonight didn’t do much for us. When we had to have it, we got it done. We’ll take the win.”

Kyle Barfield’s one-out walk began a string of four straight Wildcat batters to reach in the bottom of the eighth inning. Brett Owen and Will Brennan each singled before Watts came to bat and brought home the game’s first two runs. A batter later, Drew Mount’s RBI groundout scored Brennan to cap the Cats’ three-run inning.

In the top half of the eighth, the Mavericks had a pair of runners in scoring position with two outs but reliever Tyler Eckberg struck out Thomas DeBonville to end the threat and keep the Mavs off the scoreboard.

“That was big,” said Hill of Eckberg’s strikeout to end Omaha’s threat. “You could feel the dugout with a big sigh of relief after that. Then we came out and did what we had to do offensively and score some runs.”

Eckberg was credited with the win, his second of the year, after two innings of relief and allowed only one hit with two strikeouts.

Starting pitcher Caleb Littlejim tossed two scoreless innings in which he gave up two hits and recorded a strikeout. After Littlejim left the mound, all four relievers – Andrew Stratman, Jared Marolf, Eckberg and Jaxon Passino – combined to surrender three hits over the remaining seven innings. The five hurlers struck out seven UNO hitters against just two walks.

Passino entered the game in the top of the ninth and pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout to record his second save of the season.

Marolf did not allow a baserunner in his two innings of work, picking up two strikeouts.

K-State had two hits with runners in scoring position while Omaha 0-for-2. Neither team had an extra-base hit in the game.

UNO’s Malik Moore took the loss after allowing three earned runs in a third of an inning. DeBonville lead the Mavs offensively, going 2-for-4.

The Cats will play their first home conference series beginning Thursday, as Texas (16-10, 5-1 Big 12) comes to Tointon Family Stadium. Thursday’s first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

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