The K-State baseball team opened up their 2016 campaign by traveling to the west coast to take on the University of California Riverside. The Wildcats and Highlanders split the four game series with the Wildcats winning Friday and Sunday and UC Riverside taking the games on Saturday and Monday.
In the first game of the four against the Highlanders, the Wildcats had a great pitching performance from senior Corey Fisher who threw five shout-out innings as K-State won 1-0.
The Wildcats got their lone run from a sacrifice fly by senior Tyler Moore which scored senior Tyler Wolfe in the sixth inning.
The win was almost thwarted by the Highlanders in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs.
The Wildcats brought in redshirt junior Colton Kalmas who forced the batter to fly out to right field as K-State got their first opening day shut out since 2007.
“The pitching was outstanding,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “Just a great start for Fischer and Floyd kept it going. Kalmus had to bail us out, though. We were one strike away with Benenati on the mound, then the bases were loaded and we weren’t feeling as good about things. Kalmus just came in, and challenged up with a fastball.”
In the second game, the Wildcats trailed 4-1 heading into the eighth inning and put two runs on the board to cut the deficit to one. K-State allowed two runs in the bottom half of that inning and lost 6-3.
The Wildcats went 0-6 with runners in scoring position , which ended up being the difference in the game.
“(UC Riverside) has been doing a good job of expanding the (strike) zone on us,” Hill said. “We are trying to hit pitches outside of the zone that we cannot hit. We’re fouling a lot of pitches off early, but then we’re behind in the count. We are just not in a good spot to hit. We have to do a better job of commanding the zone and do what we’re trying to do.”
The Wildcat bats were clicking on all cylinders in game three as they had nine hits in route to an 8-1 win.
The hit of the game was by Wolfe who had a bases clearing double in the fifth inning which ignited what was a four run inning for the Wildcats.
Wildcat senior Levi Mavorhis threw seven shout out innings in the winning effort and had five strikeouts, which were the most by him since March of 2014.
“Another quality start for us,” Hill said. “He was really composed on the mound and made good pitches.”
In the final game of the series, UC Riverside jumped out to a 3-0 lead after five innings of play. The Wildcats got one back in the top of the sixth, but the Highlanders responded to make it 4-1 going to the seventh.
UC Riverside put two more on the board in the seventh to give them a five run advantage. The Wildcats clawed back by scoring two in the top of the ninth and had the bases loaded with one out, but couldn’t make the comeback complete in a 6-3 loss.
K-State will return to the diamond on Friday when they travel to Surprise, Arizona to take on Oregon State for a double-header and then they will face-off against Utah for a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday.