MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State senior right-hander Matt Applegate turned in his best start of the season and relievers Gerardo Esquivel and Nate Williams followed with 3.1 scoreless innings as the Wildcats topped No. 21 Texas, 5-2, in Big 12 Conference action Friday at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats, who snapped a five-game losing streak to the Longhorns, moved to 13-8 on the season and evened their Big 12 record at 2-2. The win marked the second-straight week that K-State has opened a conference series with a victory against a ranked opponent after the Cats defeated No. 8 Texas A&M last Friday, 15-12. Texas saw its six-game winning streak end, falling to 11-9 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
Applegate (2-2) led a pitching effort that shut down a Longhorn team that had hit .342 over its last five games and was averaging more than seven runs per contest during its winning streak. After surrendering a first-inning run, the right-hander was dominant for the next four innings as he retired 15 of 17 batters until a one-out single in the sixth inning.
The Wichita, Kan., product allowed just two runs in 5.2 innings on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
“Our pitching was key tonight,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Texas thrives on leadoff hitters getting on base, and it thrives on leadoff walks and errors. We cleaned it up defensively and Matt started pumping strikes, forcing them to beat us with the bats. When you give Texas those free runners, they are very good, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Esquivel spelled Applegate in the sixth, entering the game with two outs in a 4-2 contest. Working with runners on the corners, Esquivel induced an inning-ending ground ball then worked around a two-out double in the seventh and a one-out base hit in the eighth to keep the Longhorns off the board. Williams pitched a scoreless ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts to earn his second save of the year.
“We have the 4-1 lead, but then we couldn’t add on another run or two, which I thought we needed to,” Hill said. “That left Texas hanging where we don’t want them to be. Gerardo was outstanding in relief. He really did a great job.”
K-State scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings before plating an insurance run in the eighth. Ross Kivett, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored, began the third with a one-out double before Jake Brown singled him home. Two batters later, Wade Hinkle punched a single into right field to put K-State on top, 2-1.
K-State mounted a two-out rally in the fourth when Tanner Witt walked followed by a single from Kivett to put runners on the corners. Brown came through again, singling into left-center field to plate Witt, before Jared King followed with a single through the right side, making the score 4-1.
Brown went 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBI, his sixth multi-RBI game of the season. Witt, who went 1-for-3, tripled in the eighth and scored on a balk.
Texas starting pitcher Nathan Thornhill (2-2) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits with three walks and four strikeouts. The Longhorns were paced offensively by Jonathan Walsh, who was 2-for-4 with a RBI. Alex Silver also drove in a run with a single in the sixth.
(Story courtesy of KStateSports.com)
NEXT GAME: Saturday, March 24 vs. (21) TEXAS (11-9, 3-1)
K-State will look to take the series from 21st-ranked Texas on Saturday when the two teams meet in game two of the three game set in Manhattan, Kan. KMAN’s own Matt Walters will have the call alongside Brian Smoller. The game can be heard in the Manhatan area on Sports Radio 1350 KMAN as well as online 1350kman.com. Coverage on KMAN begins at 1:30 p.m. with the BD4 Distributing Pregame Show. First pitch from Tointon Family Stadium is set for 2 p.m.