Behind Will Brennan’s four-hit night and Justin Heskett’s third consecutive quality start, K-State picked up its 17th victory of the season and 1,800th win in program history Thursday night against No. 6 Texas Tech, 5-3, at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-State (17-16, 2-8 Big 12) scored all five runs in the first five innings, but held off Texas Tech (29-8, 6-4) to take game one of the three-game set. It was the Wildcats’ second win over a top-10 team this season (No. 4 South Carolina).
Heskett sat down the first seven Red Raider hitters he saw, as he went six innings and gave up three earned while only walking one in his fourth win of the season.
“I felt great,” Heskett said after the game. “I just made my pitches and let them hit the ball to my defense.
“Now, I’m relaxed and go out there and I know I can pitch against teams like this,” added Heskett. “I just have to go out there and do it. We can play with anyone in the country, we just have to do it night in and night out.”
“Heskett competed extremely well for us,” head coach Brad Hill said after the game. “Got tight there in the sixth, but he held his composure. He got through the sixth, which I thought was really important. And then Eckberg coming in, just finding a way. He found a way to make that one enough to get them to swing and get that last out.”
K-State had 10 hits in the game. Just two of those hits were extra-base hits, but both hits scored runs for the Wildcats. The Red Raiders scored three runs on 10 hits and had an error.
Cameron Thompson opened the scoring for the Wildcats in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Brennan.
The Red Raiders tied it back up in the top of the third with a Grant Little sacrifice fly to left field.
K-State quickly responded with single runs in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. Brennan doubled to score Hanz Harker in the third and Josh Ethier added an RBI double off the wall in right-center field in the fourth.
Texas Tech starter, Jacob Patterson (4-1), lasted just four innings after giving up five hits, three walks and two earned runs.
Back-to-back wild pitches by Texas Tech reliever Erikson Lanning gave K-State two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the Cats lead to 5-1.
Michael Davis launched a solo shot over the center-field fence off Heskett in the top of the sixth, cutting the lead to 5-2.
Heskett (4-2) was relieved by Nick Jones after allowing the first two batters of the seventh to reach base. Jones faced just one batter as pinch-hitter John McMillon knocked in a run.
Tyler Eckberg was called on with runners on first and third and one down in the seventh. It took just one pitch to get out of the inning as the Wildcats turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam. Eckberg stayed in for the eighth and ninth innings and picked up his third save of the season.
“He is a real stud,” Heskett said of Eckberg. “He’s going to be good here for three years, maybe four … I love when he comes in after me and slams the door, he’s great.”
Will Brennan, the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Week, went 4-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run batted in.
“We caught a couple breaks,” added Hill. “We’ll take the win and run with it and try to build some momentum with it. Should be a good confidence booster for us.”