May 29, 2009

Justin Bloxom was perfect at the plate, blasting a pair of home runs and driving in five to lead Kansas State to 16-8 win over Xavier in the opening game of the Houston (Rice) Regional at Reckling Park.

Bloxom also doubled twice and singles in five at-bats to total 13 bases to lead a 17-hit attack for the Wildcats. Jordan Ortiz was 3x5, including his 11th homer and matched Bloxom with five RBI.

The game was a match-up of two teams making their debuts in the NCAA Baseball championship, but the Wildcats quickly took any suspense away regarding the outcome.

K-State made their first inning of NCAA play a memorable one. After starter Lance Hoge (6-4) set the Musketeers down in order in the top of the first, his teammates presented him with a four-run cushion in the bottom of the frame.

Taylor Jurica collected K-State's first NCAA with a double down the left field line and Nick Martini drilled Richard's next pitch into center for a single to plate Jurica with the game's first run. After Bloxom singled, King drove home the second run with a single to right. Cruz then closed out the inning, driving home Bloxom and King with a double that just eluded the diving attempt of Xavier centerfielder Adam Pasono.

Hoge lost the strike zone in the third, walking a pair of hitters and allowing a single to O'Conner to load the bases with just one out. But he came back to strike out Thomas, then saw Conley drive a ball to the warning track in right where Cruz hauled it in to end the inning.

The Wildcats broke the game open with and eight-run third inning.

Bloxom extended the lead to 5-0 with his first homer of the game, a line drive shot to right in the fourth inning. It was his 10th of the year, giving the Cats a pair of players with double figures in homers since 1997. Cruz then took the team home run lead right back three batters later with a three-run blast to extend the lead to 8-0. His 11th homer of the year ended Richard's day. He gave up eight runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. Bloxom later added a two-run double in the inning.

Xavier broke through with three runs in the fourth. Bobby Freking opened the inning with a single and scored the Musketeers' first NCAA run when John McCambridge drove him in with a single. Freking later collected Xavier's first NCAA home run with a two-run shot in the ninth.

Kansas State advances to face the winner of the game between Rice and Sam Houston State at 6 pm on Saturday, while Xavier will meet the loser in an elimination game at 2.