Conlon's monster night leads Kansas State to 7-5 win against No. 11 Kentucky
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Kansas State was able to bounce back from dropping a 2-1 game to Coastal Carolina earlier in the day by upsetting No. 11 Kentucky 7-5 in the nightcap of a doubleheader split Thursday in the Caravelle Resort Tournament.
The Wildcats are now 3-2 on the young season and hope to face Elon Saturday despite heavy rains forecasted over the next two days in Myrtle Beach.
The Kansas State offense, which had just three hits in the first game against Coastal, came to life for 14 against a talented Kentucky pitching staff -- including five in a five-run fifth inning -- en route to the win. Shane Conlon led the way with the best offensive game of his career by going 5-for-5 with a two-run homer in the eighth inning, one that would go a long way towards determining the final outcome.
Kentucky (3-1) took an early 3-0 lead following a run in the top of the fifth, but K-State had seven of its first eight batters reach base in the five-run frame. The Wildcats received RBI singles from Jared King and Ross Kivett, while designated hitter Damion Lovato gave K-State a 4-3 lead with a two-run single to left field.
Following another single that loaded the bases, Blair DeBord drew a walk to complete the largest inning thus far this season for K-State.
"We had the one big inning where guys just really got locked in and had great at-bats," head coach Brad Hill said. "We started hitting the ball flat again after really getting long with our swings in the first game. When you do that, Shane pops one out of here because he just makes hard contact, and we needed that at the end."
Levi MaVorhis (1-0), came on in relief of a four-inning start by Joe Flattery, earned the win after allowing an unearned run in the fifth and working a scoreless sixth inning with a strikeout. Jake Matthys was also dominant in his second career appearance as he worked out of a first and third situation in the seventh inning before tossing a scoreless eighth.
After Conlon's two-run homer extended the lead to four entering the bottom of the ninth, Tanner Witt came in from left field to try to finish off the game for the Cats on the mound. Witt surrendered a leadoff walk before a fly out and strikeout put Kentucky down to its final chance.
A.J. Reed, who started the game on the mound for UK and remained in the contest as the designated hitter, sent a Witt fastball over the right-field wall to cut the K-State lead back to two, but Witt immediately forced a fly out to end the game.
Conlon, who went just 9-for-51 as a freshman in 2011, already has 12 hits in 22 at-bats in 2013, including a 6-for-9 performance during Thursday's doubleheader. The Naperville, Ill., product recorded the first five-hit game by a Wildcat since Jake Brown had a school-recording tying six against Hartford in March last year.
"He's always been a good competitor and he likes to play," Hill said of his first baseman. "He has a good feel for what he's doing. He doesn't try to do too much. I can promise you he wasn't trying to hit that home run. He was just trying to make hard contact and the ball got out of here, which I'm glad it did."
Witt, King, Kivett and Lovato also registered multi-hit games for the Wildcats with two apiece.
Reed (1-1), a preseason All-American, suffered the loss for UK after surrendering four runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He ended his day at the plate 2-for-4 with three RBI, while Kentucky was led offensively by Max Kuhn's 3-for-4 outing.