Wichita State tried its best starter and best long reliever. Then it tried a pitcher buried in the bullpen, before moving up and back down in the pecking order before bringing in a freshman from right field.
No matter the pitcher, it all looked the same. A lot of walks. A lot of trips to the mound. A lot of hits for top-seeded Kansas State, which hammered Wichita State 20-11 on Friday in the opening game of the Manhattan Regional. Fourth-seeded WSU returned to a regional for the first time since 2009 and looked every bit like a team unsure how to pitch against top competition. Kansas State put the game away with an embarrassing nine-run first inning and kept the pressure on against a parade of ineffective pitchers.
The 20 runs are the most scored against the Shockers in NCAA play, topping a 19-1 loss to Arizona State in the 1988 College World Series.
K-State, 42-17, advances to Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against either Arkansas or Bryant. Wichita State, 39-27, plays at 2 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.
Wichita State starter Cale Elam came unraveled slowly in the first, almost unfairly. Two Wildcats reached on infield hits. With one out, he picked a runner off first and his second baseman fumbled a rundown throw. He contributed to the ugliness with a walk and hit the last batter he faced. The Wildcats mixed in two solid singles and ended Elam’s day after he faced seven batters and recorded one out.
Elam departed down 4-2, after hitting Daniel DeBord. Albert Minnis got the second out and then gave up three straight singles and the Wildcats led 7-2. He hit Shane Conlon to load the bases and walked Jared King to force in a run. Zach Beringer, a little-used reliever, replaced Minnis and walked Jon Davis to force in another run for a 9-2 Kansas State lead. A ground ball to first baseman Casey Gillaspie ended the 49-minute inning, one in which the Shockers grabbed a 2-0 lead and never challenged again.
Kansas State, the Big 12’s best hitting team, chewed through seven pitchers to total 19 hits. Wichita State pitchers walked nine and hit six.
Ross Kivett homered twice for the Wildcats, driving in four runs. Tanner Witt went four for five and scored four times.
Casey Gillaspie drove in three runs for WSU. Johnny Coy went two for four and drove in three.