MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State jumped out of the gate with nine runs in the first inning, highlighted by a Jon Davis grand slam, en route to a 15-2 victory over Texas Tech Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats improved to 22-10 overall and 5-3 in Big 12 play with the win while taking the season series from the Red Raiders for the third-straight year and the eighth time in the last 12 seasons. The Wildcats also improved to 18-5 at home and have won nine-straight games at Tointon Family Stadium. Texas Tech fell to 17-16 overall and 4-7 in league action.
Kansas State used the momentum from Friday-night’s walk-off win early in Saturday’s contest as it sent 13 men to the plate in the first inning, including the first seven batters who reached base and scored. Davis’ first-career grand slam over the right-field wall followed a Blair DeBord RBI single, marking the score 5-0.
Following a hit-by-pitch and a walk, Texas Tech starter Jonny Drozd (3-3) threw a first-pitch ball to Damion Lovato and was quickly pulled from the game in favor of Nathan Bauder. Bauder tried to put out the fire by forcing a fly out and a ground out, but Ross Kivett, Shane Conlon and Jared King each produced two-out RBI hits – including a King double to right field – to complete the nine-run frame.
“We really had a lot of good at-bats in the first inning,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Sometimes the ball finds a couple holes. Shane found the middle and Blair had a two-strike hit. If those ground balls find gloves, that changes the whole inning. Jon had the dagger with another two-strike hit for the grand slam. We just kept it rolling from there.”
The nine-run frame tied Kansas State’s highest run output in a single inning in Big 12 play. The Wildcats also scored nine in the second inning at Texas Tech in a 16-5 victory in 2006.
A product of Juneau, Alaska, Davis finished the game 4-for-4 with four RBI as he registered three singles before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. He tallied career highs in both hits and RBI, while he hit the first grand slam by a Wildcat since Wade Hinkle at Texas A&M on March 16 last season.
Davis’ homer was the first of four by K-State on the day as the Wildcats continually put the ball into the jet stream towards right field. Conlon hit a three-run shot off the scoreboard as part of a four-run third inning to put the Wildcats on top, 13-0. The Naperville, Ill., native set at career high with four RBI as part of a 3-for-6 effort, while Conlon and Davis each hit their team-leading fifth home runs of the season.
King blasted his third homer of the year, a solo shot in the fourth inning, while K-State’s final run of the day was a Mitch Meyer pinch-hit homer to lead off the seventh. It was Meyer’s first home run of the season and the first pitch-hit homer by a K-State hitter since 2010.
Kivett tied his career high in hits by going 4-for-4, while he also matched a career best with three runs scored. He was one of three Wildcats, along with Conlon and King, to tie career highs by scoring three times. Additionally, the top six hitters in the K-State lineup each registered multi-hit games, combining to go 15-for-20 with 12 RBI.
K-State starter Matt Wivinis (5-1) cruised to his team-leading fifth victory of the year as he surrendered only an unearned run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in six innings. Aided by the nine-run first inning, Wivinis was able to attack the zone as 69 of his 96 pitches went for strikes.
“He was good,” Hill said of Wivinis. “Sometimes when you get a big inning, you can get sloppy. I thought Blair went out and talked to him one time, which was good. He got him focused with what he needed to do. It was just a matter of keep pumping strikes. They were going to need a lot of hits to beat us. He just kept pumping strikes and made them put the ball in play.”
Freshman Hayden Nixon earned his first-career save by effectively pitching the final three innings. The left-hander inherited a runner with no outs in the seventh inning as Mason Randolph reached base when he hit a hard line drive off the arm of newly-inserted pitcher Landon Busch, which forced the freshman to exit after only one batter.
Randolph scored Texas Tech’s second run of the day when Tim Proudfoot hit a RBI ground out, but Nixon finished the game by allowing just one hit and striking out three in three scoreless innings.
The 15 runs scored by K-State Saturday afternoon tied for the sixth-most in a Big 12 game in school history, matching last year’s 15 runs in the series opener at Texas A&M. K-State’s 13-run margin of victory tied for the second highest in program history, one shy of 14-run wins at Nebraska in 2009 and at Iowa State in 1998.
The Wildcats and Red Raiders conclude their Big 12 series on Sunday with a 1 p.m., contest at Tointon Family Stadium. Sunday is a Family Day as four general admission bench tickets and four concession vouchers are available for $30, while all kids in attendance can run the bases after the game. Sunday is also Bring Your Dog to the Park Day.