Nobody ever said defending a conference championship would be easy.
Despite a positive couple games last week, the momentum for the Wildcats (20-16, 2-7 Big 12) could not carry them through a conference clash against Texas Tech (28-11, 8-7 Big 12), as they fell short in all three games.
Friday’s game saw K-State take a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning, but three errors in the frame allowed the Red Raiders to take a 3-2 lead while a fourth K-State error allowed a fourth run to score for Texas Tech in the eighth inning. After putting two runners on base in the ninth inning with one out, the Wildcats could not complete a rally, only bringing home one runner to lose 4-3 in the opening game.
The offense tallied nine hits, including two each from senior third baseman RJ Santigate, sophomore left fielder Clayton Dalrymple, and junior shortstop Austin Fisher, who committed two of the Wildcats’ four errors in the game.
Sophomore Levi MaVorhis limited Texas Tech well from the mound, allowing three runs – two earned – off six hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out three. However, the right-hander dropped to 4-4 on the season in taking the loss.
K-State once again jumped ahead early on Saturday, this time notching three runs in the first inning, but failed to preserve their lead, losing 7-4. Texas Tech chipped away at the Wildcats’ lead, eventually tying the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning before putting the nail in the coffin in the eighth with three runs.
Senior Jared Moore continued his struggles on the mound, allowing four runs off six hits in four innings, although he issued no walks and struck out five. Junior Jake Whaley took the loss, dropping to 1-2 on the season by allowing three runs – one earned – while getting just one batter out in the eighth inning.
The Wildcat offense only managed six hits with no batter having a multi-hit game, but senior center fielder Ross Kivett went 1-for-1 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch to get on base in every plate appearance he had on the day.
Texas Tech completed the sweep on Sunday afternoon with an 11-7 victory, thanks to a monster six-run first inning off Wildcat starter Nate Griep.
The freshman righty started off the season in spectacular form, but struggled some last Sunday against Kansas and gave up seven runs off eight hits and two walks against Texas Tech in just three innings without tallying a single strikeout, falling to 3-2 on the season. Matthys came in to relieve Griep and fared little better, allowing four runs in 3 1/3 innings with a walk and a strikeout, the only strikeout of the day for K-State’s pitchers.
Fisher led the offense with two runs batted in thanks to a fifth-inning double, but also committed another error in the game, his third of the weekend and his 12th of the season. Designated hitter Tanner DeVinny continued his stellar freshman campaign with two hits in the game, raising his batting average to a team-high .341.
The Wildcats travel to Lincoln for a Tuesday night game against Nebraska this week before returning to Manhattan for a weekend series against the Baylor Bears Friday through Sunday.