Twice K-State closed within a run, including a two-out grand slam by Trent McMaster in the sixth, but San Francisco held on for a 7-5 victory in the regular-season finale Saturday at Benedetti Diamond.
After trailing 5-0 through five innings, McMaster’s first career slam brought K-State (23-31) within a run. San Francisco (28-28) added single runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh while the Wildcats scored one run in the top of the seventh.
K-State’s offense was only able to produce three hits, two of which came in the sixth, off USF starting pitcher Landen Bourassa. Bourassa struck out eight in his six innings of work and collected his eighth win of the year.
Three Dons relievers combined to hold the Cats hitless over the final three innings, but issued five walks. Four walks were given out by Grant Goodman, who walked Hanz Harker with the bases loaded in the seventh, but struck out the final two hitters in the inning to keep USF’s one-run lead intact.
K-State sophomore Jared Marolf suffered the loss after he allowed four earned runs on five hits over three innings. Marolf, who entered Saturday having thrown back-to-back complete games, walked three and hit a batter.
The first five San Francisco hitters reached base in the bottom of the first inning via two hits, two walks and a hit by pitch by Marolf. Michael Perri belted a three-run homer to hand the Dons a 3-0 lead. Harker helped limit the damage in the inning when he gunned down Ross Puskarich, who was trying to tag up and score from third, from right field for an inning-ending double play.
USF tacked on single runs in the third and fifth innings, pushing its lead to 5-0 after five. Puskarich hit a two-out solo home run in the third and a sacrifice fly from Brady Bate made it a five-run game.
McMaster cut the Cats’ deficit to one run with a two-out grand slam in the sixth. McMaster’s third homer of the season followed Brennan reaching by an error, Harker’s single and a Mount walk. K-State had just one hit off Bourassa entering the sixth inning.
Entering the sixth, Bourassa had retired 12 of 13 Wildcats he faced, including seven straight.
The Dons answered with a run in the bottom half after Nick Yovetich lead off with a triple and came home on a sacrifice fly lifted by Aaron Ping. Alex Belch, who was on in relief, struck out the final two hitters he faced with two on to escape further damage.
Belch yielded three base hits and two earned runs over 1 2/3 innings.
The Cats again cut it to a one-run game, 6-5, when Harker drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh, but back-to-back strikeouts by USF reliever Thomas Caulfield ended the threat as K-State left the base full.
Yovetich’s second triple of the game brought in Puskarich to push the Don’s lead back to two runs after seven innings, 7-5.
K-State had just one hit (1-for-6) with runners in scoring position. The Cats drew seven walks and struck out 12 times.
USF’s Brendan Jenkins came on and retired all six batters he faced for a six-out save, his 10th save of the season.
K-State’s season ends with a record of 23-31 (5-19 Big 12) as it misses the Big 12 Championship field for the second straight season. Head coach Brad Hill, who completed his 15th season at the helm, announced last week that he will be stepping down at the end of the season.