MANHATTAN, Kan. — No. 21 West Virginia’s four-run lead vanished within minutes of its middle relievers entering the game, and Kansas State capitalized for an 11-4 series-clinching win on Sunday.
The first Big 12 series loss this season for the Mountaineers (23-15, 9-6) also became the first series win for K-State (21-19, 4-11), which is trying to climb out of last place in the league standings.
“It feels real good, finally,” Wildcats coach Brad Hill said. “Kids should feel good. That’s a good ball club. To get your first series win against a ranked team, the guys should feel real good.”
Freshman Alek Manoah, staked to a 4-0 lead, worked around four early walks but was lifted after his 76th pitch struck Josh Ethier to open the bottom of the fifth.
West Virginia coach Randy Mazey turned unsuccessfully to Riley Troutt, who allowed two hits and a walk, and then Kade Strowd (1-1), who yielded a three-run double to Steve Serratore as the Wildcats grabbed a 5-4 lead before the first out was recorded.
K-State tagged Strowd for seven hits and four runs over 2 1/3 innings.
Next to last in Big 12 slugging percentage, the Wildcats hit four solo home runs — one off Strowd in the seventh and three in the eighth inning against reliever Jackson Sigman, whose ERA climbed to 7.36.
West Virginia’s bullpen numbers from Sunday: Four innings, 12 hits, 10 earned runs.
Jake Scudder hit his Big 12-leading 12th homer of the season for the Wildcats and Josh Rolette — who came in hitting .183 — had two solo shots.
WVU’s Kyle Gray homered to start a three-run fourth against Kansas State starter Kasey Ford. Brandon White scored from second base when a pickoff throw deflected into center field and Chase Illig added an RBI single.
The lead grew to 4-0 in the fifth on Jackson Cramer’s single, but the Mountaineers managed only one infield single the rest of the way.
Nick Jones (5-0) got the final two outs of the fifth, one of six K-State relievers who held West Virginia to one run over the final 5 1/3 innings.
K-State hit 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position while WVU went 2-for-7.
Sophomore righthander Michael Grove will undergo an evaluation Monday to determine the extent of his arm injury, according to multiple reports.
Grove left Saturday’s game after only 16 pitches, clutching his pitching arm. He is 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA this season.