K-State had a major task ahead of them today. Although the Cats had easily swept Texas Tech earlier in the season, they didn't have to face Red Raiders ace Trey Masek, 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in only 10 starts after returning from a pre-season injury. They'd handled Jonathan Gray in Manhattan last week; could they do it again?
Blake McFadden started for K-State, and was mostly effective in his job of keeping the game in reach. The BatCats gave him a boost by striking first, with Jared King manfacturing a run on a walk, a stolen base, a move to third on an Austin Fisher groundout, and finally scoring when Jon Davis grounded out to second.
Tech took the lead in the fourth when Jake Barrios singled followed by an Eric Gutierrez line shot off the left-field fair pole, but K-State immediately answered, scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame -- none of which were driven in by a hit. Tanner Witt led off with a double off the wall, and was unable to score when Shane Conlon followed with a single. Jared King drove Witt in with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Kyle Speer -- pinch-hitting for Austin Fisher, who left the game with what are suspected to be back issues -- doubled into deep right, but Conlon was holding up because the ball could have been caught, and was only able to move to third. Again, a sac fly produced a run when Davis knocked in Conlon while Lance Miles (who'd come in to run for Speer) was able to move to third. Mitch Meyer then drew a walk, and ball four got past the catcher; Miles scored. Blair DeBord singled, moving Meyer to third, but R.J. Santigate flew out to end the threat. Still, the Cats had touched up Texas Tech's ace for a two-run cushion.
The Raiders got one back in the sixth. With one out, Gutierrez got plunked (his second time of the day) and, a pitching change and two hitters later, scored on a double to left by Jarrard Poteete. That was all Tech could muster, however. Jake Matthys came on in the eighth and retired all six batters he faced, four by strikeout, to close out the win for the Wildcats.
Masek pitched well against the Big 12's most potent offense, but where the usual tactic of just pounding the hell out of the ball failed the Wildcats today, one inning of overtime at the run manufacturing plant made up for that. It was a game Kansas State could not afford to lose, and they didn't; most importantly, once again the Wildcats showed that they have the offense to beat anyone, which will be relevant as they head into regionals.
Also important: today was win number forty.
Tomorrow, K-State meets Baylor at 12:30pm CT; Tech faces Oklahoma at 9am. Next up today: #3 West Virginia vs #6 Kansas.