March 22, 2014
NORMAN, Okla. – The K-State baseball team grabbed an early first-inning lead, but after leaving 11 runners on base, the Wildcats fell to Oklahoma 11-2 on Saturday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The loss to the Sooners (18-6, 2-0 Big 12), the Wildcats’ second in as many days, dropped K-State’s Big 12 record to 0-2 in the first weekend of conference action.
K-State (13-9, 0-2 Big 12) had at least one runner on in eight of Saturday’s nine innings, including five frames in which the leadoff batter reached base, but after going 4-for-21 with runners on base, the Wildcats could not break through and add to their advantage.
“We had several opportunities to attack them and we did not do it,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “When you have runners in scoring position you have to be able to put up some runs, make it 4-0 or 5-0, get ahead of them and take some pressure off of the pitching.”
The Wildcats jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning with a two-run double by freshman Tyler Stover. The inning was set up by a leadoff single from Ross Kivett and an infield single from RJ Santigate.
However, K-State’s offense, which had 10 hits in the game, could not pile on the runs, despite having the bases loaded in the second and seventh innings. The Wildcats ended three of its innings with a runner on third base as well as another situation where Shane Conlon was caught trying to score from second base on an infield single by Stover. Stover’s ground ball was fielded by Oklahoma shortstop Hector Lorenzana, but with no play on the softly hit ball, Lorenzana pump faked a throw to first and invoked Conlon to round third base in an attempt to score.
The game narrowed beginning in the fourth inning when Lance Miles’ error at second base allowed Sheldon Neuse to reach base to lead off the frame. Neuse later scored on Austin O’Brien’s sacrifice fly that cut the Wildcats’ lead in half, 2-1.
In the fifth, another Oklahoma sacrifice fly, this time by Neuse, tied the game at 2-2. K-State starting pitcher Jared Moore was lifted following the sacrifice, and with the go-ahead runner standing at third base, reliever Jake Whaley struck out Mac James looking to end the threat.
The Sooners seized the lead in the seventh, though, after Craig Aikin drew a leadoff walk issued by Whaley. Jake Matthys stepped in for K-State, but the right-hander allowed an RBI double by Neuse, the second batter Matthys faced, to make it 3-2 Oklahoma.
In the eighth, the Sooners scored eight runs in an inning for the second straight game, highlighted by a grand slam to right field by James. All eight runs in the inning were charged to Matthys, who finished the day allowing eight hits and three walks to go along with the eight earned runs in 1 1/3 innings pitched.
Whaley suffered the loss for K-State, his first defeat of his career. He struck out four and walked two in 1 1/3 innings.
Moore did not factor into the decision. The senior southpaw allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, in 4 2/3 innings – his shortest outing of the season. He also had two strikeouts and no walks.
“I really liked what Jared [Moore] and Jake [Whaley] did, but you have to do the little things in baseball to win,” said Hill. “We simply did not do those things today.”
Kindle Ladd picked up the win for Oklahoma after throwing a scoreless 1/3 of an inning in the seventh, but the Sooners’ starting pitcher, Adam Choplick, did most of the work. The right-hander scattered nine hits and allowed two runs while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.
The Sooners had 15 hits in the game, a day after tallying 18 safeties. Every Oklahoma starting position player had at least one hit, with Lorenzana leading with way with three.
Conlon matched Lorezna for the game-high in hits with three. Conlon was joined by Santigate and Stover, who each had two hits, as the three Wildcats with multi-hit efforts.
K-State will look to salvage a game in the series finale on Sunday, March 23 at 1 pm. The Wildcats have lost four straight to Oklahoma, dating back to May 19, 2013.