MANHATTAN, Kan. — A two-out, sixth-inning rally sent Kansas State to a 3-0 series-opening victory over the University of Iowa baseball team Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium.
Senior Ryan Erickson got two quick outs in the sixth, needing just three pitches, before the Wildcats strung together four straight hits to take control.
It started with back-to-back singles from Quintin Crandall and Kyle Barfield before the Hawkeyes went to the bullpen in favor of junior Nick Nelsen. Kansas State countered with pinch-hitter Trent McMaster, who laced the first pitch he saw to left field for an opposite field RBI single.
A second pinch-hitter, Josh Rolette, followed with a run-scoring single to push the lead to 2-0 and the third run scored when Josh Ethier drew a bases-loaded walk against reliever Sam Norman to make the score 3-0.
Erickson (0-1) was the tough-luck loser, taking the loss after allowing two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. He had four strikeouts while issuing one walk in his first start of the season (and fourth of his career), filling in for Nick Gallagher.
“Ryan gave us a chance to win tonight,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “He had a nice outing and pitched well for us in a tough spot.”
Three Kansas State pitchers handed Iowa its first shutout of the season. Justin Heskett (2-1) allowed six hits over seven innings to pick up his second victory; Mitch Zubradt allowed one hit in the eighth, and Jordan Floyd pitched around a leadoff single and a walk to earn his sixth save of the year.
The Hawkeyes had eight hits in the game, led by a three-hit outing from senior Mason McCoy. He finished 3-for-4. Sophomore Mitchell Boe was 2-for-3 for his first multi-hit game of the season.
“I was happy with our energy level and the way we competed, but you can’t get shutout,” said Heller. “We hit the ball hard, it was just one of those nights. We had three double play balls and (Chris) Whelan just missed a home run.”
Iowa stranded eight base runners in the game, including two in the ninth when Jake Adams led off the inning with a single and Ben Norman drew a one-out walk. Floyd closed the door, getting a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Game two of the series is set for a 5 p.m. (CT) start Saturday. Fans can watch live on K-STATEHD.TV on kstatesports.com.