MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State scored 13 of its 14 runs in the first two innings and pitcher Ben Hornbeck struck out a career-high 10 batters as the Wildcats cruised to a 14-2 win over North Dakota State Saturday at Tointon Stadium. With the win, K-State improved to 13-2 on the season, while North Dakota State fell to 2-4.
Kansas State, winners of four in a row and 10 of its last 11, struck early and often in the first two innings and a four-run first got things going. Jordan Cruz led off with a walk and moved all the way to third on a wild pitch before scoring when Eddie Vasquez reached on an error. Byron Wiley then walked and Justin Bloxom’s single to center plated Vasquez for a 2-0 lead. Nate Tenbrink then delivered a two-run double into the left centerfield gap to score both Wiley and Bloxom as K-State jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
The Bison answered with two runs of their own in the top of the second, but the Wildcat offense erupted for nine runs on seven hits in the bottom half of the inning to take a commanding 13-2 lead. After an error and two walks, Bloxom came through again with a double to the wall in center to clear the bases, while Tenbrink’s triple and Tyler Ruch’s single added two more runs and gave the Cats a 9-2 lead. Daniel Dellasega and Wiley later drove in three total runs with singles as the Cats opened up a 13-2 lead.
That would be more than enough for Hornbeck (1-0), who earned his first win of the season in four starts. The sophomore struck out a career-high 10 batters and allowed two runs on four hits in 5.0 innings of work. K-State starting pitchers have struck out 20 Bison in the first two games of the series as Hornbeck and Brad Hutt each set career-highs this weekend with 10 each.
Relievers Nick Phillips and Austin Presley each threw 2.0 innings of shutout relief to close out the win.
North Dakota State’s Jeff Hille (0-2) was saddled with the loss after giving up eight runs on four hits over 1.1 innings of work.
Offensively, Wiley, Tenbrink, Ruch and Bloxom each had two hits on the day, while Bloxom drove in four runs and Tenbrink three for the game. Tenbrink continues to be a solid run-producer at the plate as the sophomore now has driven in 11 runs in his last five games and is a combined 8-for-13 in his last 13 at-bats.
Kansas State and North Dakota State will conclude the three-game series Sunday with a 1 p.m. matchup at Tointon Stadium.