K-State baseball faced an uphill battle almost immediately Tuesday when Wichita State junior Ryan Tinkham smacked the first of his two home runs on the evening just two batters into the game.
The second long ball for Tinkham followed a two-run third inning for the Shockers, one that forced K-State senior starter Mark Biesma out of the game. With the visitors leading 4-0 at that point, the Wildcats needed a lift of any kind to have a shot at a comeback.
A two-out double by junior outfielder Clayton Dalrymple in the fifth inning set the comeback in motion. Junior reliever Lucas Benenati, working around a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning to record two outs, saved the opportunity. Dalrymple’s two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning completed the comeback and sent the game to extras.
In extras, the Wildcats (17-18, 4-8) wasted no time capping off what proved to be a thrilling 5-4 victory over Wichita State with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the 10th inning from redshirt sophomore infielder Jake Wodtke. K-State celebrated the win in front of a packed Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan.
“He’d (Wichita State pitcher Taylor Goshen) thrown a couple breaking balls in the dirt before that, and obviously it was a high-pressure situation — the crowd was really getting on him — so I knew a fastball was probably coming,” Wodtke said about his game winner. “I just made sure I got my hands through on it.”
Wodtke finished the night with the game-winning RBI and a pair of hits. Redshirt senior infielder Shane Conlon and junior catcher Tyler Moore led the way with three hits each.
The Wildcats dug themselves in a hole early in the contest. On Biesma’s fifth pitch of the game, Tinkham belted a high fly ball that carried over the left-center wall for a solo home run.
“I thought we were flat to start,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “It was really disappointing that we were flat like that. Whether it was the weekend (or not), we came out and got down right away and just weren’t sharp. Mark (Biesma) wasn’t finishing off pitches.”
The hits kept coming for Wichita State. After stranding two runners in the top of the second inning, the Shockers scored twice on three singles and a two-out double by Chase Rader in the third inning to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Biesma nearly managed to escape the inning with some nifty glove work before any damage was done, but the ball snuck by the senior and up the middle of the infield.
K-State slowly inched their way back into the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring three runs on three hits to cut the deficit to 4-3. Dalrymple highlighted the inning with a two-out double of his own to right field to score Wodtke.
“We needed that,” Hill said. “That was the momentum swing we needed, because, again, we were kind of flat to start. We were going to have to have some great pitching first and not let them extend the game out, which we got. Then (we had to) find a way a way to fight our way back into it offensively, which we did.”
After three scoreless innings for both teams, K-State tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on a two-out single and won the game with another clutch, two-out hit.
“Big time performances out of everybody tonight,” Wodtke said. “It was a really good team win. The pitching staff came in and did a great job after the first couple innings. Good team win for everybody.”
K-State freshman reliever Bryce Ward (1-1) earned his first win of the season in an inning of duty. The Wildcats and Shockers threw a combined 10 pitchers in the extended game.
Up next for the Wildcats is a three-game conference series against No. 19 Texas Tech starting on Friday. The weekend series wraps up a seven-game home stand before the team heads out for six-straight games on the road.