By Chris Kutz, K-State Athletics Communications
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The K-State baseball team allowed the first four West Virginia batters to score in the sixth inning, turning a close game into an eventual 6-1 loss to the Mountaineers on Sunday at Hawley Field.
K-State (23-22, 4-11 Big 12) trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, but Wildcat starting pitcher Nate Griep, who allowed two hits to his prior 16 batters faced, surrendered four straight hits to West Virginia (24-16, 7-7 Big 12) to start the sixth. The last of the two hits were for extra-bases and drove in three of the four runs.
“[Griep’s] pitches were elevated because he was trying to overthrow and hurry everything,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “That is the hard part for us: knowing how to slow the game down and get under control to execute pitches, execute a play, and execute an at-bat. Right now, we are just out of control, and that happens with the continuation of losing.”
The loss resulted in a sweep by the Mountaineers over the Wildcats. Coupled with the three-game sweep at Texas Tech two weeks ago, K-State has been swept in back-to-back Big 12 road series for the first time since 2004.
Ross Kivett and Max Brown each had two hits, combining for four of the Wildcats’ five hits in the game. Freshman Tanner DeVinny hit a solo home run to lead off the seventh to score the only K-State run.
West Virginia starting pitcher Ross Vance stifled the Wildcat hitters, striking out seven and walking none in seven innings to earn his third win of the season. Prior to DeVinny’s home run, Vance only allowed one K-State runner to reach second base, which was Kivett after he singled to start the game and stole his 19th base of the season.
West Virginia scored its first run in the fourth when Jacob Rice dropped down a bunt fielded by Griep, but the Wildcat pitcher made an errant throw to first that allowed Rice to reach third on the single and two-base error. Brad Johnson took advantage of the error and followed with an RBI double down the left-field line to score Rice and make it 1-0 West Virginia.
The Mountaineers capped their scoring in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Billy Fleming off K-State reliever Jared Moore. Moore, throwing for the second straight game, surrendered the lone run in 1 2/3 innings.
West Virginia notched 12 hits, nine of which were singles. Five Mountaineers had multi-hit efforts, with Rice leading the way with a game-high three hits.
K-State right-hander Ethan Landon allowed an inherited runner to score in the sixth, but the freshman finished the day striking out one and scattering two hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Griep’s loss was his fourth straight defeat and dropped his record to 3-4 on the year. The redshirt freshman allowed eight hits and five runs, four earned, in the five-plus innings pitched.
K-State will return to action with a three-game set at TCU from May 2-4. First pitch for game one on Friday is at 6 pm.
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