K-State baseball goes 6-2 over spring break

Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian Redshirt junior Shane Conlon hits a pop fly to left field in the second inning of the Wildcats' 3-2 defeat of Iowa March 7 at Tointon Family Stadium.

While K-State students headed south to the beaches or loafed on the couch watching March Madness, the K-State baseball team kept themselves busy by playing eight games in 12 days, picking up six wins.

The team swept Northern Colorado in three straight games on March 14-15, took two more games against Air Force on the 18th and 19th, and then began Big 12 play this weekend by going 1-2 against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.

The team now sits at 14-9 overall and 1-2 in conference play, and have won all nine contests in Manhattan so far this season. After a 1-7 start to the season, K-State has gone 13-2, including a win streak of a dozen games.

The Wildcats dominated Northern Colorado in every way they could, outscoring the Bears 45-3 over three games.

In the first matchup with the Bears on March 14, sophomore starter Levi MaVorhis tossed a 2-hit shutout to lead K-State to a 10-0 victory, striking out eight batters and needing just 85 pitches to navigate through nine scoreless innings.

On March 15, the teams played a double header. K-State’s bats roared to life in game one as the Wildcats won 24-3. K-State banged out 20 hits and drew eight walks in the game, as five players had multi-hit games. Nine of the 20 hits went for extra bases, while senior center fielder Ross Kivett led all players with four hits.

Senior starter Jared Moore delivered another quality start, allowing three runs off seven hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and one walk for his fourth win of the season.

K-State won final game of the series 11-0 as the Wildcats pitching staff kept the Bears off the board while the offense had 16 more hits. Junior right fielder Mitch Meyer and senior third baseman R.J. Santigate each had three hits in the contest.

In a midweek series against the Air Force, the Wildcats extended their win streak to 12 straight with a couple wins as the offense stayed hot.

On March 18, K-State won 17-2. They generated 17 more hits and drew a staggering 10 walks while freshman starter Nate Griep won his first game as a Wildcat, allowing two runs over five innings. The righty struck out five and walked just one in the outing.

The offense was quieter the following day, but the Wildcats still put together a 4-0 victory. K-State used five pitchers to hold the Air Force scoreless and allowed just two combined hits while walking just one in the game.

K-State’s string of victories was broken when they opened up Big 12 play against the Oklahoma Sooners by dropping two straight on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, they added another tally to the win column to bring the season total to 14.

MaVorhis struggled on the mound on Friday, allowing four runs and 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings with no strikeouts or walks en route to an 11-4 loss. Santigate and senior first baseman Shane Conlon each had two hits on offense.

K-State fared little better on Saturday, dropping the game 11-2 for their second straight loss. Moore allowed two runs – one earned – over 4 2/3 innings, but sophomore Jake Matthys struggled mightily in 1 1/3 innings of relief, allowing eight runs off eight hits and three walks.

Matthys has suffered an abysmal start to the 2014 season after a stellar campaign netted him the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award last year. His ERA now sits at 14.09.

The offense struggled from a major power outage in the two losses, failing to record an extra-base hit while the Sooners had 12 between the two games.

On Sunday, a three-hit game by Kivett gave the offense the boost it needed to finally outscore Oklahoma, but the credit
goes to Griep, who pitched a three-hit shutout for the Wildcats. The win was the team’s first in conference play and gives the team confidence as they prepare for Big 12 play.

The baseball team will play again against Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday and the University of Nebraska on Wednesday, both at home, before traveling to Omaha, Neb. for a three-game weekend series against Creighton.