After losing 2-1 to Coastal Carolina in the first part of Thursday night’s doubleheader, K-State’s offense led the baseball team to a 7-5 win over eighth-ranked Kentucky in the second game of the night.
Sophomore first baseman Shane Conlon gave the best performance of his career when K-State needed it, going 5-5 with a two-run homer in the eighth inning that proved vital to the win.
K-State went into the bottom of the fifth inning down 3-0, but five runs in the inning put them ahead by two. Juniors center fielder Jared King, second baseman Ross Kivett and designated hitter Damion Lovato each knocked in runs for the Wildcats.
“We had the one big inning where guys just really got locked in and had great at-bats,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “We started hitting the ball flat again after really getting long with our swings in the first game. When you do that, Shane pops one out of here because he just makes hard contact, and we needed that at the end.”
Conlon’s big shot in the eighth put K-State up by four — a lead it needed, as Kentucky would bring in two more runs in the top of the ninth off of senior in-fielder Tanner Witt. Witt came to the mound after playing left field in the game and racking up two hits from the leadoff spot in the lineup.
K-State senior starter Joe Flattery pitched four innings in the matchup, allowing two runs off four hits, while walking two and striking out two. Freshman Levi MaVorhis earned his first win as a Wildcat in two innings of relief, giving up just one unearned run.
Sophomore A.J. Reed was Kentucky’s starting pitcher as well as their designated hitter, batting third. Reed, a preseason All-American, suffered the loss after giving up four runs off seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, but went 2-4 at the plate, including a two-run homer in the ninth.
Before playing Kentucky, K-State battled through a pitcher’s duel with Coastal Carolina, falling 2-1. Sophomore starter Nate Williams turned in another good start for the Wildcats, allowing two runs — one unearned — off seven hits, striking out three and walking two. Yet, as good as Williams was, his opponent was stellar. Junior Tyler Herb pitched eight innings, giving up only one unearned run off just three hits, while striking out five and walking three.
The Wildcats only mustered three hits in the game, one each by Witt, Conlon and Kivett. The Chanticleers, on the other hand, mounted eight hits, including multi-hit games by senior Alex Buccilli and junior Colin Hering.
K-State’s final game came on Sunday morning after being rained out Saturday. The Wildcats fell 5-4 to Elon University after leading for much of the game.
The Wildcats got on the board first in the fourth inning with two runs and held a lead until the eighth inning, when Elon got two runs off of junior reliever Gerardo Esquivel to take the 5-4 lead. K-State couldn’t recover in the ninth to get the win, falling to 3-3 on the season.
K-State got a great start from sophomore righty Matt Wivinis, who pitched six innings and allowed only one run off three hits, adding three strikeouts and walking no one.
“Matt had a good start. I was really happy for him,” Hill said. “That’s the first time he has gone six innings, and you feel like you’re good for the seventh, eighth and ninth.”
The Wildcats return to Manhattan next weekend to begin a 19-game home stand against Oakland University on March 1-3.