4th inning kills Wildcats at Creighton

Jacob Ruder, freshman pitcher, pitches during the game against Creighton on March 9, 2016, at Tointon Family Stadium. K-State defeated Creighton 8-2. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

The K-State baseball team made a final push at the end of the game. Freshman outfielder Michael Smith grounded out in the seventh, which allowed junior outfielder Quintin Crandall to score, and junior infielder Jake Wodtke found his way around the bags to bring in a run in the eighth to bring the Wildcats’ deficit down to just one run.

But the damage had already been done by Creighton and the Wildcats couldn’t stop the bleeding in time.

On Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Ballpark in Creighton, Nebraska, the Wildcats dropped the fifth game of their last six and fell to the 13-4 Creighton Bluejays by a score of 5-4.

“We competed tonight,” head coach Brad Hill said to K-State Sports. “The guys were invested, tried really hard, in a much better way than what it was over the weekend (against Western Carolina). We saw better results tonight, but it was just unfortunate we came up a little short.”

The Bluejays got the scoring started early in the bottom of the first inning. Senior infielder Ryan Fitzgerald took the first pitch of his at-bat to right field for a double. Junior infielder Nicky Lopez followed Fitzgerald with a single to right and drove in his fellow Bluejay for an early 1-0 lead after the first inning.

Senior outfielder Clayton Dalrymple and Wodtke responded for the Wildcats. Dalrymple reached first base on a walk and advanced when Wodtke also walked. Freshman catcher Josh Rolette doubled to right and drove in the two Wildcats to take a 2-1 lead after the top of the third.

The game was tied up at 2-2 after three innings when Creighton when Fitzgerald drove in junior outfielder Daniel Woodrow with a single. A tied game and a little bit of confidence looked like it could bode well for K-State and freshman pitcher Logan Wiley in his first start of his career.

Then the fourth inning happened.

It was not a promising start from the first batter of the inning, and the Bluejays essentially won the game in this inning alone. Senior infielder Harrison Crawford, the first batter, was hit by a pitch and took his spot on first base. Junior outfielder Kevin Connolly put Crawford on second with his base-hit single, which forced K-State to make a pitching change of senior Brandon Erickson for Wiley.

Creighton singled one more time and loaded the bases, eventually bringing Woodrow to the plate.

Woodrow reached on a fielder’s choice, and whereas senior catcher Matt Gandy was thrown out at second, Crawford crossed the plate and started the snowball of the fourth inning.

After Woodrow stole second base on the next play, the Bluejays had runners at second and third. Fitzgerald singled on his at-bat, driving in Connolly and putting Woodrow at third, leaving runners on the corners.

Lopez then singled to right, scored Woodrow and put Fitzgerald on third, where he stayed as K-State finally made it out of the inning after allowing the Bluejays to score three runs that came to decide the game and give the Bluejays their seventh win in a row.

Sophomore Ethan DeCaster took the win for the Bluejays and improved his record to 1-0. Wiley took the loss for the Wildcats and fell to 1-1.

K-State is still skidding early in this season. The Wildcats have now dropped four straight games and are desperately seeking some successful games. It will not get any easier for K-State in their next game on Thursday, though.

The Wildcats, 11-10, will welcome the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are 14-7, to Tointon Family Stadium at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Maybe, just maybe, K-State will find a way to end their losing ways before it becomes a habit.