MORAGA, Calif. –
The K-State baseball team ended its season-opening eight-game road trip with a 7-3 loss at Saint Mary’s at Louis Guisto Field on Sunday.
The Wildcats (1-7) lost three of four games in the Gael Invitational, with the only victory being against the host Saint Mary’s on Friday.
For the second day in a row, K-State’s opponent inflicted a late big inning on the Wildcats. The Gaels (4-4) scored five runs on three hits and three errors in the seventh to ultimately decide the game. Wildcat reliever Jordan Floyd loaded the bases with no outs after allowing two hits and a walk before he was removed for Ethan Landon.
The right-hander surrendered a sacrifice fly to the first batter he faced, Nikko Saenz, which tied the game at 3-3. Landon, though, came back and struck out the second batter he faced, Trevor Abrams, to make it two outs with runners on second and third. The next batter, Darian Ramage, drilled a crushing single, however, to drive in two runs and give Saint Mary’s a 5-3 lead. An error by second baseman Ross Kivett eventually allowed Ramage to score while Austin Fisher’s fielding and throwing error on a ground ball hit by Connor Hornsby allowed DonAndre Clark to score from second base to make it 7-3.
K-State committed a season-high six errors in the game, including four by the shortstop, Fisher.
Floyd took the loss for K-State, his first career defeat, after allowing three runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched.
“I really don’t have any complaints about the pitching today,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “I thought [Landon] Busch gave us a really good start and competed through a couple innings. Floyd was outstanding; maybe got a little tired at the end and missed a couple pitches that Saint Mary’s took advantage of.”
Landon was tagged with two unearned runs and surrendered a hit and walk in his one inning of work.
“Landon let the adrenaline get too much and elevated a pitch that was right down the middle,” added Hill about Ramage’s game-deciding single. “Too much adrenaline can happen; it’s a young guy. He needed to compose himself, but [Landon] still threw well.”
The game got off to an ominous start in the first inning when the top of the K-State lineup, in leadoff hitter Ross Kivett and No. 2 batter Carter Yagi, reached on plays to left field. Kivett kicked off the game with a line drive that bounced off a leaping Saenz’s glove and allowed Kivett to reach with a double. Yagi followed with a fly ball also to the left fielder, but Saenz dropped the ball and put runners at second and third base with the error. Shane Conlon drove in Kivett with a sacrifice fly while Fisher plated Yagi with an RBI single to make it 2-0 Wildcats.
The K-State offense, though, could not stage much of an attack through the remainder of the game as the Saint Mary’s pitching staff, led by starter Jacob Valdez and winning pitcher Kurt Jahnke, locked in against the Wildcats. After Valdez surrendered two of his three hits in the first inning, the right-hander set down 10 of the 11 batters he faced following Fisher’s run-scoring base hit. Jahnke tossed 3 2/3 shutout innings, allowing one hit and no walks.
The Wildcats had back-to-back bases-loaded situations in the fifth and sixth innings, but K-State came away with just one run from the frames via a sacrifice fly by Max Brown in the sixth. Fisher grounded out to end the fifth on a hard hit ball up the middle that was gloved by Saint Mary’s shortstop, Ramage, who was shifted behind second base gainst the left-handed Fisher.
“Fisher gets the ball up the middle, and things aren’t going well,” said Hill. “A lot of times that ball gets on through when things are going well, but [Ramage] made a play. A lot of times that play scores two runs. Fish[er] did exactly what we wanted him to do, but when it’s going like this, the guy catches the ball and throws you out.”
K-State went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
Yagi and Alex Bee were the only two Wildcats to reach base safely more than once as the left fielder and catcher each drew two walks. Both Bee and Yagi also had a stolen base.
K-State starting pitcher Landon Busch scattered seven hits in his second start of the season. The left-hander allowed two runs and one walk while striking out one in 3 2/3 innings of a no-decision.
The Wildcats will now return to Manhattan following the 10-day road trip in California. K-State opens its 2014 home schedule at Tointon Family Stadium on Friday, February 28 at 3 pm against Milwaukee to start a three-game series.