As it did all season long, Kansas State battled until the very last out as the 13th-ranked Wildcats scored two runs in the eighth inning and put the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth, but No. 3 Oregon State held on for a 4-3 victory and earned a trip to the College World Series Monday evening in the final game of the Corvallis Super Regional.
K-State finished its season at 45-19 to set the school record for wins, while the 2013 campaign marked the first conference championship in 80 years and the program’s first ever trip to the Super Regional round. The Beavers, who improved to 50-11, will take on Mississippi State in the first game of the College World Series on Saturday.
With little offense to speak of through the first seven innings, the Wildcats put two runners on base with two out in the eighth, trailing 4-1. Blair DeBord pulled a 0-2 pitch that landed just inside the left-field line to score a pair of runs and get the Wildcats to within one.
The double knocked Oregon State starting pitcher Ben Wetzler (9-1) out of the game and the Beavers called upon Matt Boyd – who opened the series on the mound – for his first relief outing of the year. The left-hander battled RJ Santigate, who looped a single into left field that fell in front of a diving Michael Conforto. K-State sent DeBord home, but the Oregon State sophomore was able to pick up the ball and throw a strike to the plate, ending the inning and preserving the one-run lead.
Matt Wivinis tossed a scoreless ninth, tying to set up the Wildcat offense for same ninth-inning heroics they displayed in the first game of the series. Ross Kivett beat out an infield single with one out to put the tying run on base, but Boyd forced two fly outs to end the contest.
“This is one of the only times that I have been speechless all year,” head coach Brad Hill said. “I have to give a lot of credit to Oregon State – they have great starting pitching and really held us down. We could never really gain any momentum until late in the game. We made a couple mistakes that exposed us early, and that is baseball. We fought back and did what we have done all year long. We didn’t quit and we fought back and had an opportunity, but just came up a run short tonight unfortunately.”
Wetzler threw a career-high 131 pitches in his 7.2 innings and was able to effectively work around nine hits and five walks. The Wildcats out-hit the Beavers, 11-6, but K-State hit into two double plays, stranded nine runners and surrendered a pair of unearned runs.
Danny Hayes got the Beavers on the board with a two-run homer in the second inning before unearned runs in consecutive frames. Ryan Barnes reached on a two-out error in the fourth and came around to score on a Kavin Keyes double off the right-field wall. However, the Wildcats were able to limit the damage as they threw out Keyes at third base to end the frame.
With a runner on third and two out in the fifth, Andy Peterson hit a weak ground ball to Austin Fisher, who couldn’t find the handle, as Oregon State built a lead to 4-0.
The Wildcats scored their first run in the sixth inning when Kivett laced a leadoff single into center field and scored on a Jared King single into right-center field. Kansas State looked for the big inning as Tanner Witt followed Kivett with a single of his own, but a double play prior to King’s hit helped Oregon State’s cause.
Catcher Jake Rodriguez paced the Beavers offensively by going 2-for-3. Santigate led K-State with a 3-for-4 effort, while DeBord and Kivett registered two hits apiece. Kivett finished the year with a team-leading 94 hits to tie for third place in school history, just three shy of the school record.
Kansas State right-hander Jake Matthys (9-2) suffered the loss in his first-career start by allowing four runs – only two of which were earned – on three hits with a walk and a career-high tying five strikeouts. The 2013 Big 12 Freshman of the Year tied his career-long outing by lasting 4.1 innings, while his 75 pitches were a career high.
The bullpen team of Wivinis, Gerardo Esquivel and Nate Williams kept K-State in the game as they combined for 4.2 scoreless innings, giving up only three hits with three walks and four strikeouts.