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K-State tops Bulldogs, 7-1, on Saturday night

K-State tops Bulldogs, 7-1, on Saturday night


MANHATTAN, Kansas – Junior right-hander Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) struck out six over 5.1 innings but top-seeded Kansas State broke a 1-1 tie with a four-run sixth to defeat the third-seeded Bryant University baseball team, 7-1, and advance to the championship round of the Manhattan Regional on Saturday night at Tointon Family Stadium.

The Bulldogs (45-17-1) will now face second-seeded Arkansas in an elimination game on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. The Wildcats (43-17) will await the winner of that game and play for a chance to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.

"We got a really good start from our pitcher and we were right in the baseball game," head coach Steve Owens said. "We got an inning going and their centerfielder made a tremendous play and they came back and took advantage of a couple defensive miscues."

After scoring 20 runs in their tournament opener, the Wildcats picked up right where they left off on Saturday, scoring in the first inning. Ross Kivett started the game with a single through the left side, advanced to second on a balk and scored on an RBI single from Tanner Witt.

Bryant responded immediately in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore Jordan Mountford (Guelph, Ont.) started the game with a single up the middle and moved around to third base as freshman AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) slapped a single through the right side. Sophomore John Mullen (Walpole, Mass.) then smoked a ground ball right back up the middle but it ricocheted off the foot K-State starter and to the first baseman for the second out. It was still enough, however, to score Mountford from third to tie the game. The Bulldogs nearly took the lead as sophomore Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.) singled to left but Zarozny was thrown out at the plate on a good throw from the left fielder. He was also hurt on the play and had to leave the game.

Following the first inning, both starting pitchers took over. After retiring the final two batters in the first, Schlitter continued to roll as he set down 10-straight Wildcats before Austin Fisher doubled with two outs in the top of the fourth. He struck out two in the second, got a pair of ground balls in the third and struck out two more in a 1-2-3 fifth.

Flattery matched him throughout, keeping the Bulldogs at bay through five strong innings. He stranded a pair of runners in the second, retired the side in order in the third and fourth and then got some major help from his defense in the fifth. Junior Jonathan Scott (Princeton, N.J.) singled to right-center and senior Adam Claire (Litchfield, Conn.) singled up the middle with two outs to put runners on first and second. In what proved to be the biggest turning point of the game, senior Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) laced a first-pitch fastball into right-center field that appeared destined for extra-bases but K-State centerfielder Jared King raced across and made a remarkable diving catch to end the inning.

Using the momentum from the run-saving catch, the Wildcats were able to break the game open in their very next at-bat. An infield error put the leadoff runner on in the sixth and a one-out single put runners on the corners for K-State in the top of the sixth. Bryant then called on graduate student John Healy (Cranston, R.I.) in relief of Schlitter but King came through again. The switch-hitter laced a 2-2 pitch into the right-center field gap to score both runners and give the Wildcats a 3-1 lead. K-State tacked on two more runs in the inning as King scored on a wild pitch and another infield error.

The four-run lead was more than enough for the Wildcat bullpen. Nate Williams relieved Flattery in the sixth and worked 1.2 innings before hitting trouble in the seventh. Scott walked with one out and Claire walked with two outs to put runners on first and second. The Wildcats then called on freshman closer Jake Matthys to face Brown and he was able to induce a ground ball back to the mound to end the threat. Matthys went on to toss 2.1 scoreless innings to earn his eighth save of the year.

K-State rounded out its scoring with two runs in the ninth. Kivett drove in a run with an infield groundball and a second scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-1 Wildcats.

Schlitter sufferered just his fourth loss of the year as he allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and struck out six over 5.1 innings. Healy worked three innings of relief, allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits. Redshirt-junior Vaughn Hayward (Glendale, R.I.) recorded the final two outs in the ninth. Offensively, Scott picked up two hits and reached base three times.

The Bulldogs and Razorbacks met in Friday's first round, with the Black and Gold earning a 4-1 victory. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.