STILLWATER, Okla. – A four-run Oklahoma State first inning set the tone for the night as the 27th-ranked Cowboys scored seven runs over the first three frames en route to 9-2 win over Kansas State Friday evening at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Oklahoma State improved to 26-10 with the win and evened its Big 12 record at 6-6. K-State dropped to 27-12 on the year and 6-4 in conference action.
K-State came up empty in the first inning despite having the bases loaded with no outs, and the bottom of the first began innocently with a Tanner Krietemeier RBI double. With two outs and Krietemeier on third base, Joe Flattery (2-4) struck out Trey Whaley, but a passed ball scored a run and extended the frame.
Oklahoma State made the Wildcats pay as Zach Fish followed with a RBI double and Victor Romero singled home a run as Oklahoma State took a 4-0 lead.
That was all the support Jason Hursh (4-3) needed as he struck out seven batters and forced the Wildcats to ground into a season-high tying three double plays. The right-hander, who surrendered a Jared King RBI single in the third inning and a Ross Kivett solo homer in the seventh, worked around 11 hits and two walks in his seven innings.
“It was a huge momentum swing in the first inning,” head coach Brad Hill said. “We didn’t get any runs in the first inning, and when it’s time to make pitches, we just don’t put anyone away. They hit them hard. That first inning really turned on us and it was just an uphill battle from there. We come back and get one, but they score three. They punched us right back and we couldn’t get any momentum after that.”
Hursh threw 121 pitches in the contest, 87 of which went for strikes, as he forced the Wildcats to strand six base runners. Alex Hackerott struck out the side in the eighth inning before Randy McCurry worked around two hits to toss a scoreless ninth. Hursh and Hackerott combined to strike out the Wildcats 10 times, marking just the third time this season K-State had 10 or more strikeouts.
Robbie Rea led four Oklahoma State batters that had two-hit games as he hit homers in consecutive at-bats in the fifth and seventh innings. The third baseman also recorded a third-inning sacrifice fly to end the night with a game-high three RBI. Fisher and Saulyer Saxon recorded two hits and one RBI apiece.
The top four hitters in the K-State lineup each produced multi-hit games, including a three-hit night by Kivett. The Broadview Heights, Ohio, product hammered his first-career home run over the wall in left-center field. King, Tanner Witt and Shane Conlon also produced two-hit games.
The Wildcats, which had seven hits over the first four innings but were hurt by the three double plays, totaled 13 hits in the contest. The Wildcats picked up their 29th game with 10 or more base hits but also stranded 10 base runners.
“We competed at the plate,” Hill said. “We just didn’t drive any runs in. It was good pitching too. That was a good guy, and he (Hursh) made pitches with runners in scoring position. We hit into some double plays in those situations. We competed pretty hard at the plate. There weren’t too many easy outs tonight.”
Flattery only worked 2.1 innings, allowing six runs (three earned) on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Freshmen Jordan Witcig and Landon Busch were solid towards the end of the game. Witcig, seeing action in just his second game this year, only made one mistake as he surrendered Rea’s second homer. Busch, who made his first appearance since being injured on April 6, worked around one walk in a scoreless eighth inning.
The Wildcats and Cowboys continue their three-game series Saturday afternoon with a 3 p.m., contest at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. Listeners in the Manhattan area can hear the game on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, while free live audio is also available online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.