K-STATE SPORTS INFORMATION
LUBBOCK, Texas - Junior left-hander Joe Flattery tossed Kansas State’s first complete game since 2009 as he helped the Wildcats punch their ticket to the 2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a 5-1 win over Texas Tech Friday evening at Rip Griffin Park.
With the victory, Kansas State improved to 26-28 on the season and 7-16 in Big 12 play, earning its sixth-straight appearance in the conference championship. Additionally, the Wildcats won just their third series in Lubbock and will go after their first-ever sweep at Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders fell to 28-26 on the season and 6-17 in conference action.
Flattery (6-4) stifled Texas Tech hitters the entire evening as he tossed the Wildcats’ first complete game since A.J. Morris in the 2009 NCAA Regional against Rice. Flattery, whose previous career-long outing in Big 12 play was 6.2 innings against Kansas last week, needed just 104 pitches to go the distance on Friday.
The Fort Dodge, Iowa, product faced the minimum in five of his nine innings and worked around two one-out singles in the second inning and a one-out double in the eighth. The left-hander sprayed just six hits and walked one batter to go along with five strikeouts.
“That was just great pitching by Joe Flattery,” head coach Brad Hill said. “He is a guy that has kept progressing through the year. Early in the year, he would give us four or five good (innings), then he moved to five or six. It was just outstanding stuff by him tonight. It looked like he wanted to stay out there. He wanted the ball. That was a big outing by him.”
Flattery was an out away from tossing K-State’s first-complete game shutout since 2008 until a two-out RBI single by Bo Altobelli broke up the shutout. However, the Wildcat offense scored four runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to hand Flattery a five-run advantage entering the final frame.
Coupled with Kayvon Bahramzadeh’s performance on Thursday, the Wildcats’ two starting pitchers have allowed just three runs in 17 innings, while Texas Tech has mustered just a .164 batting average against the duo.
The Wildcats were led offensively by RJ Santigate, who was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and one RBI. The third baseman scored the Wildcats’ first run of the game in the second inning on a two-out single by Blair DeBord, while he pushed across K-State’s second run on a successful squeeze bunt in the sixth.
Jared King and Jon Davis added two hits apiece. It was King’s Big 12-leading 26th multi-hit game of the season as he pushed his season average to .385, which is also a Big 12 best. Wade Hinkle went 1-for-5 but provided perhaps the Wildcats’ biggest hit of the night in the seventh as he delivered a two-out RBI single immediately following an intentional walk to King, which made the score 3-0.
“I thought you could see some guys out in the field really feeling it,” Hill said. “They had great body language and were making plays, and that all stemmed from the guy on the mound. I thought the big hit was Hinkle after they made the pitching change, walked Jared, and he gets a hit back up the middle. That really helped us turn the corner.”
K-State added two unearned runs in the eighth when Texas Tech first baseman Stephen Hagen overthrew his catcher on a play at the plate, while Tanner Witt scored on an error by third baseman Reid Redman, who threw high to Hagen at first as Jake Brown beat out a two-out infield.
Texas Tech starter John Neely (3-7) suffered the loss by allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in five innings of work. Redman and Altobelli recorded two hits apiece to lead the Texas Tech offense.
“It’s a big relief,” Hill said about the Wildcats earning a trip to Oklahoma City. “Our kids deserve a lot of credit because they’ve hung in there. It had to start last weekend winning two out of three against KU and coming down here, which is not an easy place to play. That’s a good club over there. We’ve just really pitched well the last two days.”
The Wildcats and Red Raiders conclude their three-game Big 12 set on Saturday with a 1 p.m., contest at Rip Griffin Park. The game can be seen nationally on FSN, while it will be aired in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN as well as online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.