Kansas State was down to its last strike in the ninth inning before Ross Kivett laced a double and Tanner Witt followed with a game-tying single, and the Wildcats promptly plated four in the 10th en route to a 6-2 victory over No. 3 Oregon State Saturday at the NCAA Corvallis Super Regional at Goss Stadium.
K-State improved its single-season record for wins as the 13th-ranked Wildcats are now 45-17 and one win away from advancing to the College World Series. The Beavers fell to 48-11.
Trailing 2-1, Kivett, the Big 12 Player of the Year, hammered a double into the right-center field gap on a full-count pitch and moved to third when OSU right-fielder Dylan Davis bobbled the ball. Two pitches later, Witt lined a single into center to tie the game.
After Jake Matthys (9-1) worked around a two-out base hit in the bottom half, the Wildcats exploded in the 10th as they sent nine men to the plate, including a go-ahead RBI single by Jon Davis, a pinch-hit RBI single by Mitch Meyer and a back-breaking two-run single through the left side of the infield by Witt.
“We found a way,” head coach Brad Hill said. “That’s the way it’s kind of been all year long. Down to our last strike, Ross comes up big and then Tanner follows it up to get it tied. And then you bring Matthys in, and I think we have a lot of confidence when he comes in to the game that we are going to be in pretty good shape.”
Witt led all hitters by going 3-for-6 with three RBI, while Kivett, Jared King and Blair DeBord each had two hits. Kivett scored two runs and Davis drove in two.
“When it got to 3-2, I wanted to put a good swing on it,” Kivett said of his ninth-inning double. “I really wasn’t trying to do too much. If I could pass the stick to this guy (Witt) and (Shane) Conlon and King, I knew we had a good chance to score a run. I don’t think there was anything special. It was just the same mentality we’ve had all year. You battle until your last strike and you battle until the last out.”
Matthys earned his ninth win of the year to move into a tie for second place in school history. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year allowed two hits in two scoreless innings with a strikeout, while middle reliever Nate Williams tossed three shutout innings and surrendered only one hit with a walk and two strikeouts.
Joe Flattery started the game on the mound for the Wildcats and was effective in his five-plus frames. The only mistake the left-hander made was on a 0-2 pitch to Michel Conforto in the fourth inning, who sent a ball over the right-field wall to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead. Flattery allowed four hits and walked two batters with three strikeouts.
“I know people talk a lot about our offense, but you have to give our pitchers a lot of credit today,” Hill said. “Flattery, Williams and Matthys – those guys had to match them today, and they did.”
The loss spoiled a solid outing by Oregon State starter Matt Boyd, who allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings of work. His only miscue came in the sixth when he hit Davis with the bases loaded and two outs to plate the Wildcats’ first run. The left-hander slammed the door on the Cats the next at-bat, while K-State also left the bases loaded in the eighth.
“Both teams pitched extremely well,” Hill said. “Obviously, I think Boyd was really tough on us. We looked really tight, confused. We just didn’t get any good swings off on him at all. He did a great job against us.”
Beaver relief pitcher Jace Fry was one strike away from his first save of the year, but ended up with the loss as he allowed the tying and go-ahead runs on four hits in 1.2 innings. Oregon State was led at the plate by Tyler Smith, who went 2-for-4.
Game two of the Corvallis Super Regional is slated for a 9 p.m. (CT) first pitch Sunday at Goss Stadium.