MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State scored nine first-inning runs to set the tone for the afternoon, while second baseman Ross Kivett hit a pair of home runs as the top-seeded Wildcats opened the 2013 NCAA Manhattan Regional with a 20-11 victory over No. 4-seed Wichita State Friday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-State, which scored in every inning except the second, improved to 42-17 on the year and will face the winner of the evening session between No. 2-seed Arkansas and third-seeded Bryant at 7 p.m., Saturday evening. Wichita State fell to 39-27 on the year and will face the loser of Friday’s evening matchup in an elimination game at 2 p.m., Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats scored their 20 runs on 19 hits as eight of the nine starters recorded at least one hit and six had multi-hit games. Kansas State also coaxed nine walks from Wichita State pitching and was hit by a pitch six times, the second-most ever in a NCAA Tournament game. Kivett led the way with four hits and four RBI, while Tanner Witt also had four hits and drove in one run and Jon Davis had four RBI.
Kansas State’s 20 runs were the most in its NCAA Tournament history, topping a 16-run effort against Xavier in 2009, while they were the most by a Wildcat team overall since a 20-2 victory over Chicago State on April 28, 2010. K-State’s 19 hits were also a season high and the most since collecting 21 at San Diego State early in 2012.
The Wildcats were not without their faults, however, as they allowed five two-run innings and gave up their second-most runs in a NCAA Regional game.
“That was kind of an ugly game,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Neither team wanted to play like that. It was ugly, but we won and that is the good thing about it. Offensively, we did a tremendous job of covering ourselves today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an offensive guy so I love the 20 runs, I just hate giving up 11. Give the guys a lot of credit. They did not give away at-bats today.”
After Wichita State scored two runs in the top off the first, the Wildcats sent 15 men to the plate in the bottom half, which was highlighted by two-run singles by Davis and Austin Fisher. K-State also received RBI singles by Mitch Meyer and Witt, a pair of bases-loaded walks by Davis and Jared King, while another run scored on an error.
The nine runs in the first inning were the most by a Wildcat team in a NCAA Regional game, topping an eight-run third inning in K-State’s first-ever regional game against Xavier in 2009. The 11 combined runs in the first inning tied a NCAA record for first-inning runs in a tournament game.
Kivett, who had one career home run coming into the contest, recorded two-run homers over the left-field wall in both the sixth and seventh innings, the latter extending K-State’s lead to 18-9. His two home runs were the most by a Wildcat since King had two at CSU Bakersfield in 2011.
Meyer went 2-for-5 and drove in three runs, including a two-run double in the third inning. Fisher, who has had just one at-bat in the last five games, earned his first start since the opener against Oklahoma and shined by going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Fisher has a hit in 19 of his last 20 games as he lost an 18-game hitting streak in last week’s Big 12 Championship by going 0-for-1 against Texas Tech before being pulled due to an injury.
Left-handed reliever Jared Moore (4-0) earned the win after allowing two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings of work. The Boulder, Colo., product struck out a season-high four batters, including two in the third inning to put a stop to a potential big inning.
Wichita State starting pitcher Cale Elam (7-5) suffered the loss as he allowed six of the first-inning runs and recorded just one out. The Shockers had four hitters with two-hit games, including Johnny Coy, who had four RBI.
Kansas State continues play at the NCAA Manhattan Regional by taking on the winner of the Bryant vs. Arkansas game at 7 p.m., Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium. Standing room only tickets for Saturday’s game can be purchased online at k-statesports.com for $10 (adults) and $8 (students/youth).
The game can be heard in the K-State Sports Network and online at www.k-statesports.com. Television designations will be announced later Friday night or early Saturday morning.