The Wildcats took pitches, fouled pitches off and denied OSU anything resembling an easy inning for most of Saturday’s opener of the Corvallis Super Regional.
That was a sure recipe to force Matt Boyd’s pitch count up until the Beavers senior finally left the game after seven complete innings, a season-high 123 pitches and a 2-1 lead.
“There were some competitive at-bats,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “I think of RJ Santigate, lefty on lefty, Austin Fisher, lefty on lefty, just fouling pitch after pitch off. Those were at bats that wear you down. If we are up there not competing very hard, he cruises through nine innings today in 120 pitches.”
There was no cruising for Boyd or the Beavers. And when their bullpen failed, they wound up taking a disappointing 6-2 loss. It’s the second loss at home in a Super Regional in Oregon State history. The Beavers came back to win that other regional against USC in 2005. They are now 18-2 at Goss Stadium in the postseason.
For the Wildcats (45-17), it’s their first Super Regional win in their first appearance.
Still, Oregon State was – after reliever Scott Schultz gave up a hit and was up in the zone and Max Engelbrekt left after an out, two walks and the onset of back spasms in the eighth – one pitch away from a 2-1 victory.
Sophomore Jace Fry, making his fourth appearance of the season, got the Beavers out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, but surrendered back-to-back two-out hits in the ninth before finishing the inning.
Ross Kivett got the Wildcats started with a double and reached third on an error. He scored when Tanner Witt singled to center.
“When it got to 3-2 I wanted to put a good swing on it,” Kivett said. “I really wasn’t trying to do too much.”
Said Witt: “Our thought and our approach to the game is that we know we are going to score and we know we are going to get runs. The first guy (Boyd) had us. He was confusing us. He could pitch inside, he could pitch away. He had all the stuff, but in the dugout it feels like we are going to score.”
In his longest stint since Tommy John surgery last June, Fry threw 36 pitches in 1 2/3 innings and took the loss, allowing three runs, two in the 10th after the Beavers failed to do anything in the ninth.
All of OSU’s runs came on a Michael Conforto homer to right field.