MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State rallied in the bottom of the ninth and
had the winning run at first base but Derek Bunker’s liner to short
ended the threat and left the bases loaded as No. 11 Texas A&M held on
for a 4-2 win Friday night in a well-pitched series opener at Tointon
Stadium. The loss snapped Kansas State’s five-game winning streak and
dropped the Wildcats to 31-18 overall and 9-12 in Big 12 play, while
the Aggies improved to 39-11 and 12-9.
In a game where starting pitchers Kyle Nicholson and Brad Hutt each
tossed complete games, the Wildcats found themselves with a chance to
win the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Down 4-1, Nate Tenbrink led things off with a single to left before
Tyler Ruch then reached on a fielder’s choice as Tenbrink was forced
out at second. Eli Rumler then beat out an infield single to first and
Jordan Cruz followed with a walk to load the bases. After Eddie Vasquez
struck out looking for the second out, Rob Vaughn was hit by a pitch to
score Tenbrink and cut the lead to 4-2. Bunker then lined out on a 2-1
pitch to end the game.
Nicholson (11-1) and Hutt (8-4) both pitched well enough to earn the win
as both struck out nine batters in 9.0 innings, while Nicholson walked
two to Hutt’s one. Three of Hutt’s four runs surrendered were earned on
the night as the Wildcat junior scattered eight hits on the night.
The Aggies jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two as a leadoff single from
Brandon Hicks got things going in the first. Then, Hicks stole second
and came all the way around to score as catcher Rob Vaughn’s throw went
into center to allow Hicks to go to third and centerfielder Byron Wiley
bobbled the ball to allow Hicks to plate the game’s first run. Kyle
Colligan’s two-run homer in the second after a walk then pushed the
lead to 3-0.
The Wildcats got on the board and cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of
the sixth when Wiley sent a Kyle Nicholson fastball over the wall in
right and on top of the Brandeberry Indoor Complex for his sixth home
run of the season.
The Aggies pushed across an insurance run in the top of the ninth as
Colligan doubled down the line in left and moved to third on a wild
pitch. Then, with one out, Dane Carter grounded out to short on a ball
that glanced off Hutt’s glove to score Colligan and make the score 4-1.
K-State remains in sixth place in the league standings following
Friday’s game, but a Baylor (9-13) win and an Oklahoma (9-13) loss on
Friday trimmed the margin between sixth and eighth place to just a half
a game. Texas Tech (7-14) remains in ninth place and Kansas (8-15) in
10th after Friday’s action.
Kansas State and Texas A&M continue play Saturday with a 6:30 p.m.
matchup at Tointon Stadium.