OKLAHOMA CITY — Kansas State relievers Nate Williams and Jake Matthys combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings to bolster a solid start by freshman Blake McFadden as the top-seeded Wildcats edged Texas Tech 4-3 on Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Kansas State improved to 40-16 on the year, reaching the 40-win mark for just the second time in school history. The Red Raiders dropped to 25-29.
Williams, who entered the game in the sixth inning with one out and the Wildcats on top 4-2, allowed a two-out RBI double to cut the lead to one. But the sophomore right-hander retired the next four batters before handing the game over the Matthys in the eighth.
Matthys, who broke the K-State freshman record for saves with seven, retired all six batters he faced with four strikeouts to finish the game.
“It was just a really clean, good ballgame,” Kansas State head coach Brad Hill. “Both sides pitched very well. We were fortunate enough to come out on top. Fortunately, some things went our way.”
Matthys, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, needed only 19 pitches in his two scoreless innings and threw only four pitches out of the strike zone. He moved into a tie for third place in school history with his 29th appearance, which is the most by a freshman in school history.
McFadden (6-2) pitched out of tough situations in the first three innings by forcing Texas Tech to leave two on base in the second inning, while a caught stealing helped the right-hander face the minimum in the third. But in the fourth, Tech’s Eric Gutierrez hit two-run homer off the left-field foul pole to give Tech a 2-1 lead before McFadden settled down to get three consecutive outs and end the threat.
The Wildcat offense had to grind it out against one of the nation’s top pitchers, Trey Masek (5-2). K-State manufactured a run in the second inning without recording a hit when Jared King walked and stole second base before a pair of ground outs — the latter by Jon Davis — scored the game’s first run.
Tanner Witt led off the fourth with a double down the left-field line and Shane Conlon followed with a single to put runners on the corners. King drove home Witt with a sacrifice fly before pinch-hitter Kyle Speer doubled to the right-field wall, moving Conlon to third. Davis hit another sacrifice fly to produce the second run of the inning and Lance Miles, who pinch ran for Speer, scored on a wild pitch to build the lead to 4-2.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to (Masek),” Conlon said. “He pitched great and kept us off-balance. We had the one big inning that basically won us the ballgame. Our pitching staff threw great today and kept us in the game.”
Conlon finished with two hits and scored a run, while Davis registered his ninth multi-RBI game of the year. Gutierrez led Texas Tech by going 1-for-2 with two RBI and hit his fourth home run in as many games.
K-State continues play in Pool One with a 12:30 game on Friday against No. 5-seed Baylor. It can be seen nationally on Fox College Sports Central and heard on both the K-State Sports Network and www.k-statesports.com