Kansas State offense explodes for 14 runs to upend fifth-ranked TCU
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State busted out for 18 hits and 14 runs, both of which were its most in a Big 12 regular season game in more than two years, as the Wildcats beat No. 5 TCU 14-4 to open a three-game series on Friday at Tointon Family Stadium.
Using a season-high 18 hits to score their second-most runs in a game this year, the Wildcats (15-17, 3-7 Big 12) beat their highest-ranked opponent at home since May 7, 2010 when they topped No. 1 Texas. The hits and runs were their most in a conference regular season game since April 6, 2013 vs. Texas Tech (15 runs, 18 hits).
Entering the game, TCU (25-7, 6-4) had allowed 14 combined runs over its previous eight games. The Horned Frogs had a conference-best team ERA of 1.73 in Big 12 play while starting pitcher Mitchell Traver, who allowed six runs in .2 of an inning, entered the contest with a 0.99 ERA.
"That's why you line up and play," K-State head coach Brad Hill said. "You see the numbers, but those don't matter when it's time to play. Our guys did a great job after going down two in the first. You get a little concerned [after the early deficit], but our guys were very patient at the plate."
Half of K-State's runs came in the first inning when it sent 11 batters to the plate and recorded six hits to help match its highest-scoring inning of the season, a mark first set on March 8 vs. Santa Clara. The Wildcats had fallen behind 2-0 after the top of the first when TCU used a leadoff hit by pitch and one-out double to put the pressure on the Wildcats.
The top five hitters in K-State's lineup had a combined 13 hits, led by a career-high four from Tyler Wolfe. The junior, who leads the team with a .464 batting average in Big 12 action, finished 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored.
Along with Wolfe, seniors Carter Yagi (3-for-4), Shane Conlon (2-for-3) and Max Brown (2-for-4) were joined by redshirt sophomore Steve Serratore (2-for-5) to make up the leading quintet of hitters for K-State. Junior Clayton Dalrymple also had a multi-hit game as he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Overall, every K-State hitter had at least one hit to help the Wildcats total their most hits in a game since March 15, 2014 vs. Northern Colorado (20).
Every Wildcat also had an RBI as K-State finished 9-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Brown, who went 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position opportunities, led all hitters with four RBIs, matching his career-high.
While matching his own career-high with three hits, Yagi also reached base safely four times after he ignited K-State's big first inning with a leadoff walk. Wolfe and Conlon followed up Yagi with a single and a walk, respectively, to set up a bases-loaded RBI single by Brown. Serratore struck out and Tyler Moore hit a sacrifice fly to proceed Brown's single, but the Wildcats went on to score five more runs with two outs. Taylor Anderson, Danny Krause, Dalrymple and Yagi all had run-producing hits, with Dalrymple's single driving in both Anderson and Krause.
K-State struck again twice in the fourth and once in the sixth. After Brown drove in Wolfe with a sacrifice fly, Serratore hit a two-out infield single to plate Conlon and make it 9-3 Wildcats. In the sixth, Wolfe came through with an RBI single that drove in Yagi and broke the 10-run barrier for K-State.
The Wildcats poured on four more runs off Drew Gooch in the eighth. Three straight hits opened up the frame before Conlon, with the bases loaded, drove in Dalrymple with K-State's third sacrifice fly of the game. Brown then hit his team-leading fifth triple of the season to drive in a pair of runs while Serratore's groundout to first base plated Brown to cap the game's scoring.
Backed up by the offensive onslaught, K-State starting pitcher Colton Kalmus threw a career-high 6 2/3 innings to earn his first win of the season. The redshirt sophomore allowed three runs (two earned) and three hits over the first two innings, but he settled in to retire 14 of the 16 batters he faced starting with the final out in the second.
"I thought he really struggled in the first couple of innings, but he just competed," Hill said. "He settled in, and his last 4.2 [innings] were outstanding."
Three Wildcat relievers logged time in the win, with Bryce Ward escaping a two-out bases loaded jam in the seventh unscathed. Mitch Plassmeyer allowed one run in the eighth but also struck out the side while Lucas Benenati worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to extend his scoreless-inning streak to 4.0.
The win marked the third consecutive week in which K-State captured the first game of the series. Two weeks ago, the Wildcats beat Oklahoma State 4-2 and then last week at home, they won 8-2 vs. West Virginia.