ARLINGTON, Texas (K-State Sports Information) – Texas Tech starter Mason Molina struck out a career-high 10 and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Wednesday, as the second-seeded and eighth-ranked Red Raiders defeated No. 7 seed K-State 5-3 in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Globe Life Field.
In addition to his strikeout total, Molina set a career high with 6 2/3 innings in retiring 18 of the first 19 hitters he faced. K-State (27-28) registered all three of its hits in the seventh inning, scoring three against Molina, capped by a two-out, two-run double from Kaelen Culpepper.
The Wildcats committed three errors in the second inning, leading to three Texas Tech (37-18) runs – all with two outs.
“The last thing you can do is provide offense for your opponent, and we did that,” said head coach Pete Hughes. “We didn’t play catch and gave them free 90s early on in that game. That’s not taking anything away from Molina, he was awesome, he was the difference-maker and came at us with fastballs and no-hit us for a good portion of that game.
“Disappointing night, but any time you’re going to have the same amount of errors as hits, it’s going to be tough to beat a quality team like that.”
With runners on the corners and two outs, a failed pickoff attempt by Connor McCullough allowed Kurt Wilson to run home from third. A throwing error from catcher Justin Mitchell trying to gun down Parker Kelly resulted in a second unearned run.
Earlier in the inning, Kelly produced TTU’s only RBI base hit with a single to left. Dillon Carter’s two-run, two-out triple in the sixth pushed TTU’s lead to five runs.
A walk coaxed by Cameron Uselton in the third marked the lone Wildcat baserunner through six innings. Cash Rugely led off the seventh with a walk before Nick Goodwin doubled and Cole Johnson’s RBI single provided the first run against Molina.
“Molina threw a really good game,” Hughes added. “His fastball had a lot of spin on it. We’ve got to be disciplined and we weren’t disciplined enough to take advantage of it.”
Molina exited with two outs in the seventh and Culpepper standing on second base. Andrew Devine took over to face Mitchell, who represented the tying run, and induced an inning-ending groundout.
Devine, along with relievers Derek Bridges and Austin Becker, combined to hold K-State without a hit over the final 2 1/3 innings.
Texas Tech’s four pitchers racked up 14 strikeouts – a season high total for K-State hitters and the most by the Wildcats in any Big 12 Championship contest.
In the top of the eighth, Rugely reached after being hit by a pitch with two outs. Bridges came into the game and struck out Dylan Phillips to end the inning. Becker worked a perfect ninth to collect his second save of the season.
McCullough logged his fifth quality start of the season, as he allowed three earned runs over six innings. His 113 pitches marked a career high, as he struck out four, walked two and surrendered eight hits.
In relief of McCullough, Blake Corsentino struck out five of the six he faced over two perfect frames.
Wilson turned in the day’s only multi-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a double.
Next for Kansas State will be an elimination game against West Virginia after the Mountaineers fell to Oklahoma 6-4 Wednesday night. Game time is at 12:30 Thursday with coverage at noon on Newsradio KMAN.