Baseball team ends California trip on a low note

(Photo by Parker Robb | Collegian) Junior short stop Austin Fisher prepares to throw the ball to a teammate for an out during the first game of the Wildcats' series against Texas Tech April 5 at Tointon Family Stadium. After a weeklong trip to California to open the season, K-State baseball returns home with a 1-7 record. K-State begins a 20-day, twelve-game homestand this Friday.

The K-State baseball team is hoping that their slow start can be overcome with success in the mold of the football and men’s basketball teams this year after falling to 1-7 over the weekend in Moraga, Calif.

Head football coach Bill Snyder suffered a 2-4 start to the season on the gridiron but finished 8-5, including a bowl win over Michigan. Head men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber and the basketball team suffered early season disappointment in a 2-3 start including a loss to Northern Colorado, but are now 18-9 with March Madness plans.

Now head baseball coach Brad Hill is hoping that his team’s slow start can still end with postseason play for the reigning Big 12 Champions, just as Snyder and Weber did in defense of conference titles the previous season.

Good news first: the Wildcats finally put one in the win column on Friday night against the Saint Mary’s Gaels, thanks to a six-run fifth inning that propelled the team to a 9-4 victory. The offense roared to life in the team’s lone win this season, banging out 11 hits and drawing eight walks.

Sophomore Alex Bee, making his second career start, led the team with three hits, while freshman Tanner DeVinny continued to hit well with another two hits while tying for the team high with two RBIs. Senior R.J. Santigate also continued his recent hot streak with a two-hit game.

Sophomore Clayton Dalrymple also had a good day at the plate, bringing in two runs for the Wildcats, including a double in the fifth inning, K-State’s lone extra-base hit of the game.

Senior Jared Moore took the win, pitching five innings and allowing two runs, one earned, off four hits while issuing three walks and striking out three. After pitching 5.1 innings in a start last weekend, this marks the first time that Moore has pitched five or more innings in back-to-back outings.

The bad news from the weekend is that the team lost its next two games.

On Saturday, the Wildcats struggled mightily on the mound against UC Davis, losing 10-5.

Sophomore Jordan Witcig needed 61 pitches to last three innings in his start, allowing two runs, one earned, off four hits, walking another four and striking out one. However, most of the damage was done after the righty left the game, as UC Davis scored seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Freshman Braxton Wilks allowed three runs in two innings of relief, while freshman Colton Kalmus allowed three more in just a third of an inning, taking the loss. Freshmen Nate Griep and Jon Roblez finished out the game, allowing a run each.

Saturday’s game marked the second time in K-State’s first six games that they surrendered double-digit runs to an opposing team.

The offense found some success in the batter’s box, as junior shortstop Austin Fisher and Santigate each had three hits on the day. Senior Shane Conlon added two more hits, including a double for the team’s only extra-base hit.

In total, the team had 12 hits and five walks, but could only muster five runs off of all those base runners. After stranding a dozen runners on base in Friday’s game, the Wildcats left another 11 on base Saturday. They fared only slightly better Sunday, leaving seven on as the team’s woes continued.

A 7-3 loss to Saint Mary’s capped off the California road trip Sunday afternoon, highlighted by six K-State errors, four from Fisher. In total, the team committed nine errors in the three games this weekend.

The offense faltered once again, with just four hits against the Gael pitching staff, although Fisher reached base for the eighth consecutive game to start the season. Once again, the offense managed just one extra-base hit, a double from senior Ross Kivett in the game’s first at bat.

The team also received little help from their pitching staff, as sophomore Landon Busch needed 81 pitches to toil through 3.2 innings. The sophomore allowed two runs off seven hits, with a walk and a strikeout.

Freshman Jordan Floyd took the loss in relief of Busch, giving up three runs off two hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. Two more freshmen finished out the game, as freshman Ethan Landon allowed two unearned runs in an inning of work while freshman Jake Fromson kept the Gaels off the board in his one inning.

The Wildcats return to Manhattan in hopes that a three-game home stand against Milwaukee this Friday through Sunday will get their season back on track. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m.