MANHATTAN, Kan. – Four Kansas State pitchers were able to outlast TCU’s Brandon Finnegan as the Wildcats scored a run in each of the first two innings and hung on the rest of the way for a 2-1 victory over the Horned Frogs Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-State improved to 31-13 on the year and 9-5 in Big 12 play as the Wildcats are 18 games over .500 for the first time since May 22, 2010. TCU fell to 19-23 overall and 7-10 in league action.
The Wildcats went into the game planning on using as many as four pitchers and executed their plan to near perfection. Matt Wivinis (6-1) began the contest on the mound and allowed a run on three hits in three innings before giving way to the bullpen, which combined for six scoreless frames.
Joe Flattery followed Wivinis out of the bullpen with three scoreless innings, working around two hits and a walk with two strikeouts, before Nate Williams tossed two scoreless frames with three strikeouts. Jake Matthys earned his fourth save of the year by pitching a scoreless ninth inning with a strikeout.
The performance by the K-State pitching staff was needed as Finnegan (0-6) was nearly unhittable in a complete-game effort. Kansas State could only scatter five hits off the hard-throwing left-hander, who walked two batters and struck out eight in 115 pitches. Finnegan’s eight fanned batters were tied for the most against the Wildcats this season.
“It was a very-well pitched ballgame,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Their guy was outstanding. We just got a couple little breaks. We were able to capitalize on a leadoff walk in the first and the leadoff error in the second. That was all she wrote. We were able to match their guy the way we had to. We pitched out of some crucial situations, too. (Joe) Flattery pitched out of some big-time pressure situations, as did Nate (Williams). We had to match them pitching-wise today and, fortunately, we did.”
The K-State hurlers forced the Horned Frogs to strand seven base runners, including runners on the corners in the sixth inning and two more runners in the seventh.
After TCU scored a run in the first on a Jantzen Witte two-out single, K-State came right back with a run in the bottom half when Shane Conlon doubled down the left-field line to plate Ross Kivett.
Austin Fisher gave Kansas State a leadoff base runner in the second inning when he reached on an error by shortstop Keaton Jones. Following a wild pitch and a strikeout, Fisher moved to third base on a RJ Santigate ground out.
Freshman Clayton Dalrymple was next and beat out an infield single as Fisher came across for the eventual game-winning run.
Conlon and Fisher each recorded two hits, while Cody Jones led the Horned Frogs with two hits of his own.
Saturday’s game marked the first time K-State had five or fewer hits in a victory since defeating Wichita State, 5-2, on April 13, 2011.
Kansas State completes its series against TCU Sunday with an 11 a.m., contest at Tointon Family Stadium. Fans can purchase a Wildcat 4 Pack that includes four general admission bench tickets and four concession vouchers for $30, while all kids in attendance can run the bases after the game. Tickets are available online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office beginning at 10 a.m.
The contest can be seen nationally on Fox College Sports and heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN. Free live audio is also available online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.