Brennan’s Slam Helps Carry Cats by Shockers

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From K-State Athletics

Will Brennan launched a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday night, as K-State scored seven unanswered runs in a 7-2 victory over Wichita State at Tointon Family Stadium.

Brennan’s fourth career homer – and first grand slam – came with two outs to break a 2-2 tie. K-State (22-24) earned a season split in its season series with Wichita State (20-24), who dropped its fifth straight contest.

“With two outs, you get your guy to the plate and for him to deliver – that’s what it looks like,” head coach Pete Hughes said after the game. “It was something we really needed at that time. It gave everybody a chance to breathe deep.”

After the Wildcats scraped across runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game, Terrence Spurlin and Dylan Phillips sparked the seventh with back-to-back singles. Following a pinch-hit bunt single by Rainer Ausmus later in the frame, the bases were loaded for Brennan.

“I was looking for something soft,” Brennan said. “He was going all curveballs to lefties, so I got a good pitch to hit and deposited it over the wall.”

Wildcat reliever Jaxon Passino turned in 4 2/3 scoreless innings, as the sophomore yielded just one hit in his career-long outing. Passino (2-4) was credited with the win and matched his career high with five strikeouts.

“Jaxon Passino gave us an opportunity to have that big hit,” added Hughes. “It was a good outing for him. We needed him to come through for us and he did a great job.

“They are a really good offensive team. They’re free swingers, especially early in counts, and he went off speed early in the count and then attacked late with fastball. He did a really good job mixing and matching. He gave us a chance to get out of that little offensive funk that we got into and created some opportunities for ourselves.”

Wichita State tallied three hits in the fourth inning off K-State starter Andrew Stratman, including back-to-back RBI singles by Paxton Wallace and Noah Croft. Croft’s single put the score at 2-0 and ended Stratman’s day after 3 1/3 innings.

Stratman had allowed just one hit to go with three strikeouts through the first three innings. The sophomore righty surrendered four hits with two earned runs and three walks in his first career start.

WSU starter Preston Snavely retired 12 straight Wildcats before issuing consecutive walks to begin the bottom of the fifth inning. K-State got a two-out RBI single from Caleb Littlejim that scored Chris Ceballos to cut the Shocker lead in half, 2-1. Snavely’s third walk of the inning, to pinch hitter Jeffrey Boggess, ended his day.

Zach Kokoska tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with a single through the right side that brought in Brennan. Brennan sparked the inning with a leadoff single and the game headed to the seventh tied 2-2.

Littlejim added an RBI double in the eighth, capping the Wildcat scoring. Brennan and Littlejim each finished the night 2-for-4. Brennan matched his career high with four RBI.

Senior Mitch Zubradt threw a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts in his team-leading 19th relief outing.

Alex Segal was tagged for the loss after allowing four earned runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Snavely went 4 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two hits allowed in a no decision.

K-State hit .333 with runners in scoring position while limiting WSU to 2-for-10. K-State ended with five two-out RBI and the Shockers has none.

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Mitch Fortner

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