The K-State baseball team made some history this weekend in Lincoln, and in the process took a huge jump up the conference standings.
The Wildcats swept Nebraska in Lincoln, the first time the Huskers have been swept at home in 12 years. K-State won by tallies of 15-1, 9-3 and 5-3, taking advantage of the Huskers' continued atrocious pitching and in the process seeing an improvement in its own troublesome pitching.
Because of weather concerns, the series was moved up, with the teams playing a doubleheader on Friday and the concluding game on Saturday afternoon. In Friday's opening game, K-State jumped all over Husker starter Jordan Roualdes for five first-inning runs. K-State starter Lance Hoge was pretty much untouched by the Huskers, and freshman reliever James Allen went three scoreless for the save.
Friday's nightcap brought a season first and a little excitement. Nebraska managed to score three runs on K-State starter A.J. Morris, the first runs allowed by Morris in conference play this season. In the second inning, in the midst of what amounts to a scoring binge against Morris this season, Morris threw a wild pitch to bring in Nebraska's Nick Sullivan from third. Sullivan slid in to tally the run and then had words with Morris as he turned toward the Husker dugout. K-State catcher Rob Vaughn ran in to break up the confrontation, shoving Morris and Sullivan in turn, and in the process inciting a benches-clearing discussion of differences at home plate. Vaughn and Sullivan were both ejected. You can see video of the incident here.
In my opinion, the whole deal was a lot of talk over next to nothing. Sullivan's slide didn't appear particularly egregious, and Vaughn appeared just as interested in keeping Morris out of the fight as he was in sending a message to Sullivan. Husker fans will of course believe this is more conclusive evidence of dirty play by K-State, pointing to the well-publicized slide by Jordan Cruz two years ago that injured Mitch Abeita and nearly led to a riot between the two teams in Okahoma City's Bricktown Ballpark. Frankly, I believe that if Husker fans want to take a principled position here, they would have to admit that Sullivan's slide was dirty if they still want to argue that Cruz's slide was dirty, but I have little hope of such level-headed analysis from our friends to the north.
In Saturday's concluding game, K-State again jumped ahead early, scoring three runs before the homestanding Huskers came to bat. Nebraska clawed back into the game with single tallies in the fourth, fifth and eighth inning, but the Wildcats countered with single tallies of their own in the seventh and eighth innings to keep the game out of reach.
By sweeping the Huskers, K-State vaulted from last place to fourth in the Big 12 standings. Here's a quick look at the conference standings as of today's action:
Oklahoma 6-3 (Defeated Missouri, 2-1, this weekend)
Texas A&M 7-5 (Lost to Texas Tech, 1-2, this weekend)
Baylor 7-5 (Defeated KU, 2-1, this weekend)
K-State 5-4 (Swept Nebraska this weekend)
Texas 6-6 (Defeated Oklahoma State, 2-1, this weekend)
Texas Tech 6-6 (Defeated Texas A&M, 2-1, this weekend)
Oklahoma State 4-5 (Lost to Texas, 2-1, this weekend)
KU 4-5 (Lost to Baylor, 2-1, this weekend)
Missouri 4-7 (Lost to Oklahoma, 1-2, this weekend)
Nebraska 4-8 (Swept by K-State this weekend)
Next weekend presents a huge opportunity for K-State to solidify its conference standing and NCAA Tournament chances as Texas A&M comes to Manhattan. The Aggies lead K-State by 1.5 games in the conference standings and tout a No. 22 RPI. Taking a series off A&M is the goal for next weekend.