*STORY COURTESY OF KStateSports.com*
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State put a season-best 31 runners on base – including a Big 12 record-tying six walks by Tanner Witt – en route to a 14-5 victory over Nebraska Omaha Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
With the win, K-State improved to 21-27 on the season and will look for its first three-game sweep on Sunday since early April. The Mavericks fell to 12-34 with the loss.
In a game that K-State drew 15 walks, Witt had five strikes thrown against him in the 29 pitches he saw. He broke the school record of five walks held by both Adam Muenster (2010 vs. St. Bonaventure) and Adam Green (1996 vs. Creighton) in addition to equaling the Big 12 record. It was the first time a Big 12 player had six walks since Oklahoma State’s Josh Holliday against Oral Roberts in 1999, while Missouri’s Bryan Seymour originally set the record in 1997 against Arkansas State.
Witt, who also stole his 20th base of the season, turned his six walks into a career-best four runs scored. He enters Sunday’s series finale riding a streak of eight-straight walks and nine-straight plate appearances reaching base.
“It was impressive that Tanner Witt had the maturity to go up there and walk six times,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Somewhere in there you’d think he’s going to want to swing the bat and swing at a bad pitch.”
When K-State went after pitches, most went for base hits as the Wildcats recorded 16, the fourth most this season and the most since a 20-hit outburst at No. 8 Texas A&M on March 16. Ross Kivett, Dan Klein and Jake Brown led with way with three hits apiece. Kivett, who was a home run shy of the cycle, also drove in three runs to tie his season high in both categories.
Klein tallied his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth inning, and also recorded a RBI in the sixth by hustling out an infield single. Brown doubled in the second inning before singling and scoring a run in the eighth.
Wade Hinkle led the Wildcats with four RBI, two of which came on his team-leading ninth home run of the season. His homer capped a six-run eighth inning as the first six Wildcats in the frame all came around to score. Hinkle blasted his opposite-field shot after a two-run triple by Kivett into the right-field corner and a Jared King RBI double to deep center field.
K-State, which recorded a season-high on-base percentage of .566, also saw King, Hinkle and RJ Santigate tally two-hit games. King belted a two-run triple in the fourth inning to mark the Wildcats’ first multi-triple game of the year.
“Offensively, I’m really happy with our guys,” Hill said. “Run production comes from being unselfish and getting the ball up the middle or to the other side of the yard. It was just a very good offensive approach.”
For the second-straight day, K-State received a solid outing from its starting pitcher as Joe Flattery (5-3) worked a career-long seven-plus innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts. The left-hander, whose previous long outing was 6.1 innings against Hartford on March 10, surrendered a run in the first on a sacrifice fly but answered with five scoreless frames. He began the eighth inning by hitting a batter and allowing a single, and both runners came around to score after he exited the game.
“I don’t think Joe was at his best because they squared up a lot of balls, but he was able to give us his longest outing of the year, which is good,” Hill said. “We needed him to get through it and he did without his best stuff.”
Nebraska Omaha starting pitcher Matt Tew (1-5) took the loss after allowing five runs on three hits with eight walks and two strikeouts in 3.1 innings. His eight free passes were the most given up by an opposing pitcher this season. Maverick right-fielder Mark Waldron drove in three runs on a first-inning sacrifice fly and a two-run single in the eighth inning. Catcher Colby McCord collected three of the eight UNO hits on the afternoon.
NEXT GAME: Sunday, May 6 vs. NEBRASKA OMAHA (12-34 Independent)
Kansas State concludes non-conference play on Sunday in Manhattan, Kan., against Nebraska Omaha. KMAN’s own Matt Walters will have the call alongside Brian Smoller. Sunday’s game can be heard live in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN as well as online at 1350kman.com. Coverage on KMAN begins at 12:30 p.m. with the BD4 Distributing Pregame Show. First pitch from Tointon Family Stadium is set for 1:00 p.m.