Manhattan, Kan.- No. 5 Wichita State (25-4) cemented a 4-3 win over Kansas State (15-16) on Tuesday night, although both teams threatened in the late innings.
Wichita State threatened in the top of the second with runners at second and third, but would not score until the third. Conor Gillaspie doubled off the right field wall, driving in Andy Dirks who was on board with four-straight balls.
The Wildcats responded in the second half with two runs on two hits and a sacrifice. Brett Scott laid down a bunt, trying to push Rob Vaughn to second and reaching with a fielder’s choice. Vaughn was on first with a single, but was erased on the bunt as Gillaspie threw to second, getting the lead runner. Back-to-back singles from Jordan Cruz and Adam Muenster to opposite sides of the outfield plated the runner. A Nate Tenbrink fly ball to center field drove in Cruz from third and gave Kansas State a 2-1 advantage.
The Shockers regained the lead in the fifth as the KSU starter A.J. Morris ran into trouble and reliever Thomas Rooke just added onto the damage. Ryan Jones shot a one-out triple into the gap between right and center field. A walk to Gillaspie put runners at the corners, but not for long, as Tyler Weber doubled into left field for an RBI. A walk to Dusty Coleman loaded the bases and signaled the end of Morris. Rooke came in and sandwiched a strikeout in between two walks, both of which pushed across a run. Josh Workman and Tyler Hill each picked up an RBI with the base-on-balls and WSU went ahead 4-2.
Kansas State inched closer coming within one with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Muenster led off with a double to the left-center gap off of starter Tim Kelley and stole third. Logan Hoch relieved Kelley and got the next two batters. The inning should have been over as Jason King hit a routine ground ball to shortstop, but Coleman bobbled the play and the runner reached safely as Muenster crossed home.
WSU rounded a lead off hit by Hill to third, but the senior first baseman tried to take home on a wild pitch and was thrown out at the plate.
Muenster got the first hit off of Hoch in the eighth, a push bunt, with one down, legged out by the hitter. Hoch didn’t give up on Muenster, however, and kept him busy throwing to first and creating quite a reaction from KSU fans. The work paid off as Hoch picked the runner off, and Hill, Coleman and Taylor Brown completed the run down.
The Wildcats threatened to end the game in a big way in the bottom of the ninth. Hoch allowed two consecutive base hits by Justin Bloxom and Derek Bunker to start the inning. The runners threatened in scoring position as Tyler Ruch laid down a sacrifice bunt off of closer Khol Nanney, moving each player up a bag. Vaughn was intentionally walked and a wild pitch in the next at bat had both sides holding their breath. Pinch runner Dane Yelovich took off from second but Bloxom at third was more hesitant. Bloxom froze not far from the bag and Yelovich scrambled back to second. Brett Scott hit a grounder to the right side of the infield and second baseman Brown scooped it up and set the double play in motion. Coleman snagged the throw and fired to first to secure the 4-3 win.
Nanney (4-0) picked up his first save of the year and Kelley improved to 4-1 on the season. Kelley allowed one earned and two unearned runs on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts. Hoch gave up three hits and struck out two in three innings. Nanney finished the ninth on no hits, no runs and the intentional walk.
The Shockers host the Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Eck Stadium.