MANHATTAN — Cold and rainy weather chased most of the fans away after a few innings Tuesday at Tointon Family Stadium, but those who stayed were treated to a thrilling ending.
Kansas State completed a come-from-behind victory over Wichita State, beating the Shockers 7-6 with Shane Conlon sliding across home plate after a passed ball with two outs in the ninth inning.
It was a wild conclusion to a strange game. Wichita State (18-16) was in control most of the way. It scored two runs in the first and built a 6-1 lead after seven innings. In the less-than-desirable conditions, the Shockers appeared to be on cruise control seemed behind pitchers Drew Palmer, who allowed two hits and one run before coming out in the fourth, and Albert Minnis.
But then things started to crumble apart in the eighth, and the Wildcats (23-10) took full advantage.
“It was a real Jekyll-and-Hyde tonight,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “We didn’t come to play early and they exposed us. Then we give them a big inning. That’s not easy to come back from. A lot of teams will just lie down and let them have it tonight. We didn’t. That’s a lot of credit to our guys.”
K-State’s comeback started in the eighth with a string of quality at-bats. The Wildcats got men on base, and Wichita State pulled Minnis in favor of Aaron LaBrie. But that didn’t stop K-State’s surge. After scoring four runs, Austin Fisher tied things up at 6-6 with a double.
“We just had confidence in ourselves and never gave up,” Fisher said. “Everybody knew we could get it done and we could score that many runs. When you have that confidence you are going to come back and get hits.”
Wichita State failed to scored in the top of the ninth, then the Shockers ran into more trouble in the bottom of the inning, and LaBrie was pulled in favor of Brandon Peterson.
He managed to get two outs, but Jared King drove Conlon to third with a single. That brought Blair DeBord to the plate with first base open and the game on the line. After a lengthy at-bat, Peterson walked him, but the ball slipped past Tyler Baker on ball four and Conlon sped home for the victory.
Wichita State players and coaches were noticeably frustrated, and quickly boarded the team bus home.
The Wildcats, who have won six straight heading into a weekend series at Iowa, poured onto the field and celebrated.
“It always feels good to win a game like that,” DeBord said. “But it means a little more when you win against those guys. They are just like KU or Nebraska. You always want to beat them.”
Two outs when winning run scored.
E — Fisher. DP — KSU. LOB — WSU 7, KSU 8. 2B — Bayliff (4), Mucha (6), Fisher (13). 3B — Bobbit (1), King (2). S — Dalrymple. SF — Coy. SB — Mucha (6), Harbutz (7), Haddox (5). CS — Santigate.
WP — Palmer, LaBrie, Dollar, Moore.. PB — Baker. HBP — Conlon, Fisher (by Minnis), DeBorg (by Palmer). Umpires — Greg Harmon, home; Kevin Raine, first; Charlie Clemons, second; Bob Homolka, third. T — 3:19. A — 1,131.