*Courtesy of K-State Sports Information*
FORT WORTH, Texas – K-State allowed three unanswered runs, including the decisive one on a squeeze play in the seventh, to fall to No. 11 TCU, 3-2, on Thursday at Lupton Stadium.
The Wildcats (26-27, 8-14 Big 12) dropped its ninth one-run game of the season, including six in conference action, despite taking a 2-0 lead after the top of the fourth. Two-out RBI singles by Tyler Wolfe and Brooks Zimmerman off TCU starting pitcher Brian Howard staked the Wildcats to their two-run advantage, but a two-out, two-run single by Dane Steinhagen in the fourth evened the score.
In the seventh, two batters after the Horned Frogs (36-14, 13-9 Big 12) chased K-State starting pitcher Parker Rigler from the game, Mason Hesse laid down a squeeze bunt off Nick Jones to allow the game-winning run to score. Jones entered the game against pinch-hitter Austen Wade, who hit a single up the middle to move Steinhagen from first to third to set up the game-deciding play.
While K-State was able to produce two runs and seven baserunners against Howard, TCU’s Sean Wymer slowed down the Wildcats by retiring all 12 batters that he faced, including six on strikes, from the fifth through the eighth. Wymer entered in relief of Howard and was lifted for Durbin Feltman in the ninth. Feltman surrendered a leadoff single to Josh Rolette in the ninth, snapping a streak of 13 straight Wildcats retired, before getting back-to-back pop outs and a strikeout to end the game.
“Wymer was outstanding,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “He was able to throw a slider down and an elevated fastball. We could never get on time with his fastball. We did not get off any good swings against him at all. Credit to him for coming in and stuffing things.”
The Horned Frogs out-hit the Wildcats, 10-5, as four different TCU hitters had multi-hit efforts. Jake Scudder was the lone Wildcat with multiple hits as the junior had a single in the second and a double in the fourth. He eventually scored in the fourth following an intentional walk to Quintin Crandall and the two-out hit, on a 2-2 count, by Zimmerman.
K-State generated its run in the third when Michael Smith drew a one-out walk, stole second and moved to third on a groundball hit to the shortstop by Clayton Dalrymple. Smith was plated when Wolfe drove a full-count pitch through the left side to make it 1-0 K-State.
Smith and Wolfe connected for relay in the fifth, preventing TCU from scoring a go-ahead run. After Rigler caught Hesse looking to start the frame, the K-State left-hander issued a five-pitch walk to Connor Wanhanen and induced a fly out by Cam Warner. Facing Evan Skoug, Rigler surrendered a double near the foul line in left field, but Smith was able to throw it in to Wolfe, who turned and fired to the catcher Tyler Moore. The senior applied the tag on Wanhanen to end the frame and keep the score at 2-2.
Rigler worked a 1-2-3 sixth, but the leadoff single in the seventh by Steinhagen chased the junior from the game. In his third quality start over his last four outings, Rigler scattered seven hits over six-plus innings and struck out three while walking two. The loss was his eighth of the year.
“Parker did a great job,” said Hill about Rigler, who has a 2.42 ERA over his last four starts. “He just made the 0-2 mistake against Steinhagen. Other than that, he pitched an outstanding ballgame. I thought all the pitchers did a nice job tonight.”
Wymer picked up the win, his second of the season, while the save for Feltman was his fifth.
K-State and TCU will meet in game two of the series on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Right-hander Levi MaVorhis will oppose righty Mitchell Traver in the matchup of starting pitchers.