Freshman right-hander Nate Williams came out of the Kansas State bullpen with the tying run on first in a close ballgame but was able to strike out Barrett Barnes and force Scott LeJeune to fly out as the Wildcats topped Texas Tech, 7-5, Thursday evening at Rip Griffin Park.
With the win, K-State improved to 25-28 on the season and 6-16 in Big 12 play, while the Wildcats need one win in the next two days to punch their ticket to a sixth-straight Big 12 Championship. With the loss, the Red Raiders fell to 28-25 overall and 6-16 in conference action.
K-State scored three runs in the first frame and saw starting pitcher Kayvon Bahramzadeh(7-3) work a season-long eight innings, which also marked a career-long outing in Big 12 play. After scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, the Wildcats pushed across two more in the ninth to take a 7-3 lead into the bottom half.
Gerardo Esquivel came out to work the ninth inning and Bo Altobelli greeted him with a solo homer. Four of the next five batters reached base as Esquivel worked with one out and the bases loaded in a four-run game. However, the right-hander hit Jamodrick McGruder to bring across another run, which prompted K-State to make a change.
Williams came out of the bullpen and worked to a 3-2 count against Reid Redman, but the Wildcat freshman threw another pitch out of the zone to pull the Red Raiders within two. Facing one of the Big 12’s best hitters, Williams was able to calm down and strike out Barnes on a 1-2 pitch before seeing LeJeune hit an easy fly ball to right field for the victory.
“Nate did a great job to come out and stop momentum, because they were waiting to run on the field and celebrate,” head coach Brad Hill said. “To be honest with you, everyone in the stadium felt like they were going to except for Nate and the guys on the field.”
Williams, who ranks in the top five of the Big 12 in saves this season, picked up his sixth of the season to break the K-State freshman record held by James Allen, who had five in 2009.
Bahramzadeh was outstanding as he allowed just two runs on four hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts. After giving up a pair of two-out hits to score a Texas Tech run in the first, Bahramzadeh went on to retire 22 of his next 24 Red Raiders he faced until a two-out solo homer to Barnes in the eighth inning.
“Kayvon was just awesome,” Hill said. “When they had two hard-hit balls in the eighth, I just knew that was it (for him). He competed. He found their weaknesses and went for it, and he stayed there all night long. He just did a great job and did was he does – he competes.”
With his seventh win of the season, Bahramzadeh moved into the school’s top 10 for single-season victories and picked up his second-straight conference win after just one in his career prior to last week.
The K-State offense, which recorded double-digit hits for the third time in the last four Big 12 games, pounded out six extra-base hits in the game, the most in a Big 12 game this year. Two of the extra-base hits were solo home runs byBlair DeBord in the seventh and Jared King in the eighth that gave the Wildcats much-needed insurance. Additionally, five of the Wildcats’ seven RBI came with two outs.
King led the way with his team-leading 25th multi-hit game of the season as he went 3-for-4 with three RBI. It was the Dublin, Ohio, product that got things going for the Wildcats in a three-run first inning as he singled home Ross Kivettbefore consecutive RBI doubles by Jon Davis and RJ Santigate made the score 3-0.
After Texas Tech scored a run in the bottom half, Red Raider starter Duke von Schamann (6-4) caught fire as he sat down 15-straight Wildcats until a two-out single by Wade Hinkle in the sixth.
The solo homers by DeBord and King followed in the next two innings, while Kivett tripled over Barnes’ head in center field to plate the first run in the eighth before he was driven home on King’s two-out single.
“We had some big tack-on runs because those two at the end came up big. You never say it’s over on the road because things like what happened in the ninth can start happening.”
Barnes led Texas Tech with two hits, while the top five hitters in the Red Raider lineup tallied all five RBI.
Kansas State and Texas Tech continue their three-game series on Friday night with a 6:30 p.m., first pitch at Rip Griffin Park. The Wildcats will send left-hander Joe Flattery to the mound, while Tech will counter with right-hander Jon Neely. The game will be aired in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.