May 29, 2009

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Kansas State Bombards Xavier

By Allen Brown

Special to

HOUSTON – Despite not making an appearance in an NCAA game in its 109 years of existence, Kansas State came out swinging and made itself right at home at Reckling Park on Friday afternoon, scoring four runs in the first inning and eight more in the third and cruising to a 16-8 victory over Xavier.


First baseman Justin Bloxom lead the assault for K State, going 5 for 5 with two home runs, two doubles and five RBI, and right fielder Jordan Cruz went 3 for 4 with five RBI. Cruz’s three-run, tape-measure home run into the trees beyond the right-field fence was the big blow for the Wildcats in their eight-run fourth.


The Wildcats (42-16-1) were aggressive at the plate throughout the game with several of their hits coming on the first pitch or early in the count.


“[Assistant] coach Sawyers really had the guys prepared for today,” KSU coach Brad Hill said.


Added Bloxom: “The ball was carrying real well to right field…when you see that, you tend to get a little more aggressive.”


K State immediately instituted its aggressive game plan in the first inning as Clayton Jurica doubled, Nick Martini had a RBI single and Bloxom singled on three straight pitches with one out. Jason King then drove a RBI single to right field on the second pitch he saw to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. With two outs, Cruz’s line drive to left-center just in front of centerfielder Adam Pasono plated two more runs.


Bloxom led off the Kansas State third with a home run to right. Cruz followed later in the inning with his three-run shot to give the Cats an 8-0 lead and chase Zac Richard (4-1). Lefty Tommy Shirley relieved Richard but fared no better as the Wildcats tallied four more runs, thanks to a two-run single by Martini and a two-run double from Bloxom.


Of note, senior lefty Lance Hoge (6-4) was the starting and winning pitcher for Kansas State. Wildcats ace A.J. Morris, who is 13-1 on the season, did not appear in the game and will start Saturday. Hoge worked five adequate innings, yielding three earned runs on eight hits. He was aided considerably by double-play grounders in both the fourth and fifth innings.


Hill, in explaining the strategy to pitch Hoge instead of Morris, said the decision was made based on Hoge’s favorable matchup against the Musketeers (38-20), in particular the left-handed power bat of Ben Thomas, and his ability to limit Xavier’s running game.


Xavier designated hitter Bobby Freking went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer in the ninth and drove in three.