LINCOLN, Neb. – The K-State baseball team scored six runs in the second inning but four late insurance runs proved to be crucial as the Wildcats defeated Nebraska 10-6 on Wednesday at Hawks Field.
Trailing 1-0 entering the second inning, the Wildcats (20-13) sent 12 batters to the plate in the second and used four hits, five walks and a hit by pitch to take the 6-1 lead. Lance Miles drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly while three straight two-out RBI singles by Ross Kivett, Shane Conlon and Austin Fisher made it 4-1 K-State. The Wildcats tacked on two more runs after the Nebraska starting pitcher Kyle Kubat was removed from the game, with Conlon scoring on a passed ball and Mitch Meyer being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to plate Fisher.
Nebraska (20-14) did not relent, though, scoring three runs in the third and one in the fifth to make it a one-run advantage for K-State. Michael Pritchard drove in two of the Cornhuskers’ three runs in the third with a two-run triple off K-State starting pitcher Landon Busch. In the fifth, Pritchard struck again when he sent an RBI single to center field off reliever Jake Fromson.
In the seventh, Conlon drove in his second run of the game, which proved to be the game-deciding RBI, when he plated Miles with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly that made it 7-5 K-State.
The Wildcats added more cushion in the ninth when Miles’ third hit of the game, a one-out single, ignited a three-run frame. After Clayton Dalrymple hit a single and Kivett walked to load the bases, Conlon delivered another sacrifice fly to drive in his third run of the night and give the Wildcats’ an 8-5 lead. Fisher followed Conlon up with a two-out, two-run single to score Dalrymple and Kivett and make it 10-5 K-State.
Ethan Landon was summoned to start the ninth inning, but the K-State reliever surrendered two hits and two walks to allow Nebraska to score a run. The right-hander was lifted with two outs and the bases loaded for Jake Whaley, who struck out the only batter he faced, Nebraska’s cleanup hitter Pat Kelly, to end the game and pick up his first career save.
“Whaley had not pitched in awhile,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill, “but he came in there and did a great job. We’re really proud of him.”
The top three hitters in the K-State lineup, Kivett, Conlon and Fisher, combined to go 6-for-12 with seven RBI. Kivett, the leadoff hitter, and Miles, batting out of the eight hole in the lineup, tied for the team lead with three hits, helping K-State register 13 hits in the game.
“The eight and nine holes were nine out of 10 in quality at-bats,” said Hill. “They did a great job of getting the top of order up with men on base, which they always like. Kivett was better. Fisher had a couple big hits for us, and Conlon had a couple big RBIs. It was a gutty performance by our whole team.”
Kivett finished the game going 3-for-4 with two walks. The center fielder has now reached base safely nine times in 11 plate appearances in two games against Nebraska this season.
Fromson picked up his first career win after the right-hander threw three innings in relief of Busch, allowing four hits and one run.
Busch surrendered four runs, three earned, on four hits in three innings of a no-decision.
Jordan Floyd threw two shutout innings, not allowing a hit in the seventh and eighth innings.
Kubat took the loss for Nebraska, his second of the season. The left-hander walked three and surrendered two hits and three runs.
Nebraska used seven pitchers in the game, including four to get through the first two innings. Luke Bublitz and Josh Roeder each allowed three runs in addition to Kubat.
The win gave K-State five straight victories against Nebraska, dating back to the season series sweep in 2013.
K-State continues its stretch of five-straight road games with a three-game, Big 12 series at Texas Tech. The first game of the series is on Friday, April 11 at 6:30 pm.