If everything is bigger in Texas, then the three games that K-State won in Abilene, Texas this weekend were doubly huge. After a 1-7 start to the season in California, the Wildcats were in need of a successful weekend when their home opener series against Milwaukee was cancelled due to winter weather in Manhattan, and they certainly found one down south.
It would have been understandable, if disappointing, for the team to continue their struggles after having to play away games scheduled last-minute instead of three home games. However, the Wildcats found success at the Bourland-Ardoin Classic, boosting their record to 4-7.
Everything came together on Friday for a win as the offense banged out 14 hits, while sophomore starter Levi MaVorhis had a career performance on the mound against Grand Canyon.
The offense put up three runs in the first inning, giving them an early lead on a windy day, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Such conditions often mean trouble for pitchers, but not so for K-State, who won 9-4.
MaVorhis pitched a career-high 7.1 innings, giving up four runs – three earned – off seven hits while striking out eight, also a career-high, and walking two.
On offense, senior first baseman Shane Conlon led the way with three hits, two of which were doubles. Three players had two-hit games: senior Ross Kivett, starting in center field for the first time in his Wildcat career, junior designated hitter Carter Yagi, and junior outfielder Kyle Speer, who also had a triple.
Facing Grand Canyon again in the first of two games on Saturday, the Wildcats kept up the big offense and great pitching for an 11-1 win.
In his third career start, sophomore Landon Busch tossed a complete game as K-State took another win, which was not too shabby for a pitcher who had never pitched more than four innings in an outing. The lefty allowed just one run off eight hits in his nine innings, striking out four and walking one.
The offense made it easy for Busch, scoring 11 runs off 11 hits and five walks, including a six-run eighth inning that saw 10 batters come to the plate.
Sophomore outfielder Clayton Dalrymple had a team-high three hits, while sophomore second baseman Lance Miles added two hits, both of which went for doubles. Junior shortstop Austin Fisher also had two hits while junior designated hitter Max Brown tacked on a triple as the Wildcat offense left just four runners on base in the game.
Another 11-hit game by the offense against Missouri State later on Saturday sealed the team’s third win in two days, while senior Jared Moore delivered another solid start for the team.
The offense was carried by Kivett, Conlon and Fisher, who each had three hits. Fisher had an especially good day, falling a triple short of the cycle with a double and a home run.
Moore continued to eat up innings for the Wildcats, giving up three runs and eight hits in seven innings while striking out five and walking one. Freshmen Jake Fromson and Jake Whaley each pitched a scoreless inning to finish off the game for K-State.
Sunday’s game against Abilene Christian was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The weekend was a resounding success for head coach Brad Hill and his team, as all three starters delivered solid performances and the offense bounced out of their slump.
Busch dropped his ERA from 5.62 to 3.18, while Kivett’s batting average rose almost 100 points, from .185 to .282. Fisher continued his early season tear as his batting average stands at a team-high .436. The junior infielder is slugging .538, second on the team behind Darlymple’s .583.
This week, the Wildcats will travel to Lincoln, Neb. on Tuesday for a game against the Cornhuskers before returning to Manhattan to open up their home schedule with a three-game series against Iowa on Friday.