PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State club baseball team came away with a two-game split against Kansas State on Saturday, picking up an 8-1 win in game one before losing 8-7 in game two.
Several players had the opportunity to throw on the mound and get swings at the plate throughout the day, as the Gorillas got an idea of what they need to improve on.
“The best thing about today is that our batters got to see live pitching and our pitchers threw in real game situations,” PSU player-coach Nate Grimaldi said. “This is our first outing of the year, so for now, our sights are set on getting ready for the first conference series in the last week of October. We also have a wooden-bat tournament in Dallas that we would like to do really well in. We would have liked to have won both games today, but at the same time, it was good experience for everyone.”
GORILLAS WIN GAME ONE
A hot start for Pitt State saw the Gorillas jump out to a five-run lead in the opening inning, while the starter Sam Grant kept the Wildcats off balance at the plate en route to an 8-1 victory.
“We have a lot of good hitters, but they’re smart hitters as well,” Grimaldi said. “We’re really good at getting base. Nick George is one of those players who just won’t move when the ball is about to hit him and we have a lot of guys like that, who will do anything they can to get on base. We have a lot of ball players who know how the game works and they’re going to do whatever they can to get on base and come around to score.”
The offensive explosion in the opening inning — which led to a 5-0 PSU lead — was highlighted by a two-run single through the left side of the infield off the bat of Jordan Miller and included an RBI single to right field by Austin Kratz.
Kratz recorded his second RBI in the following inning, driving in Kyle Sellers on a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 6-0.
K-State drove in a run in the fourth inning to narrow the gap to 6-1 and was looking for more with the bases loaded and two outs, but a strikeout by Miller got the Gorillas out of the inning with limited damage.
Pittsburg added two more insurance runs in the sixth, as Blaine Fisher drove in Grimaldi on a single to left field and later crossed the plate on a defensive error.
The Wildcats got one runner on base in the final inning, but Zach Hizey shut the door out of the pen to seal the win.
Fisher was the offensive catalyst in the win, going 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI, two runs scored, two walks and two stolen bases.
Grimaldi also picked up a pair of hits and scored two runs with a stolen base.
Grant earned the win on the bump, allowing no runs on one hit with one strikeout through three innings of work.
WILDCATS RALLY LATE
The Gorillas led by as many as four runs in the early going, but K-State rallied for two runs in the fourth inning and six runs in the sixth to get an 8-7 win.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Grimaldi said. “There were a couple double plays that we didn’t turn and it wasn’t Bailey’s best day on the mound either, but it’s hard on these guys. We threw a new pitcher nearly every inning, so it was just strange. It wasn’t a comfortable environment for the pitchers to be throwing in, which is no excuse, but it’s just one of those little things we need to sharpen up. The whole point of playing today was to knock the rust off, and we did that. Now we all know the areas we need to work on.”
The Gorillas continued to hit the ball well in the rematch, as they went up 2-0 in the opening frame after Brandon Martinkus belted an RBI single to right field and Greyson LaPlant drew a walk with the bases loaded.
Pitt State added a run in the second inning on a fielder’s choice and one more in the third on an RBI single to left field by Kemp to increase the lead to 4-0.
K-State cut the deficit in half with a pair of runs in the fourth, but the Gorillas got both runs back in the bottom half of the inning on a fielder’s choice and an error.
The Wildcats hit their stride in the sixth inning, as 11 batters came to plate and six runners scored to give them the lead at 8-6.
PSU came to within one run of the lead after Nathan George drove in Kemp during the sixth inning, but was held short of tying the game.
Kemp was seeing the ball well at the plate, as he drove in one run on two hits with two runs scored and a stolen base.
Marinkus also had two hits with an RBI and a run scored.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.