Friday’s series opener at Tointon against Eastern Illinois held no drama whatsoever for Kansas State (6-2), as Jordan Wicks returned to form and Zach Kokoska keyed the offense in a 6-3 win over the Panthers (5-5).
Kokoska got things started for the BatCats with a solo homer in the first inning. In the third, Nick Goodwin doubled, stole third, and then scored on a balk with Daniel Carinci at the plate; Carinci then doubled and scored on a Chris Ceballos single. In the fifth Kokoska struck again, doubling in Cameron Thompson before scoring himself on a Dylan Phillips double. The final run of the day for K-State came in the sixth, when Kamron Willman tripled and then scored the Cats’ second balk-advancement run of the game, and why Eastern Illinois’ Ky Hampton was worrying about the runner on third with two outs will forever be a mystery. That left K-State with a 6-0 lead after six, at which point Wicks bowed out for the afternoon having given up five hits and striking out eight.
Enter the bullpen. Jaxon Passino escaped the seventh without issue, but got in trouble in the eighth as he allowed two singles and was yanked with one out. Eric Torres came in and immediately gave up a triple to Trey Sweeney which drove in both runners, then Sweeney scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3. But Torres got the final out on the next batter, and Tyler Eckberg came on to record a 1-2-3 ninth and his third save of the season.
Wicks improves to 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA; his WHIP is below 1.00 and he’s whiffed 28 batters in 19 innings against only three walks. Hooboy.
It was also a big day for Kokoska, who came in hitting only .173 but improved that by 49 points while pushing his SLG over .500. He’s had no trouble drawing free passes, which means his OPS is now .919 despite the .222 AVG. Goodwin’s OPS is still over 1.100, and Willman has surprisingly jacked his up to .971. If the offense continues to heat up, things could get awfully fun at the ballpark.
The teams meet for game two of the series at 1:00. It’s sold out, but you can still watch on ESPN+.
Thursday night was not so auspicious for the volleyball team. Hosting the somehow unranked Sun Belt champion Texas State Bobcats, K-State almost pulled off what would rightly have been considered an upset. The Cats took the first two sets 25-19, 25-15, before giving up a 25-20 loss in set three. Set four was the closest of the match, with the teams tied at 20 before Texas State edged away to win 25-20. The Cats ran out of gas in the final set, though, falling 15-9 to lose the match 3-2.
Aliyah Carter broke her own K-State freshman record with 27 kills on the day, while Kadye Fernholz added 13 and Holly Bonde 12. Freshman Jayden Nembhard — whose brother is TCU basketball player RJ Nembhard — checked in with 8.
The loss drops K-State to 10-7 overall, which is not real great for their tournament profile. But losing to Texas State (27-3) isn’t exactly a crime, so we’ll see what transpires going forward. We’ll have a long wait until the next outing, when the Cats host Saint Louis on March 14. That 2:00 contest will also air on ESPN+.
The men host Iowa State this afternoon on ESPN+, with nothing really at stake except pride. K-State is locked into the nine seed for the conference tournament, and can only avoid 20 losses by winning said tournament and then going out and winning the NCAA Tournament. What they can do, however, is send Iowa State home permanently sporting a big ‘ol zero in the conference wins column. Bruce Weber and Mike McGuirl addressed the media on Zoom ahead of the contest.
As for the women, they’ll finish things off tomorrow at Oklahoma; reminder that this game will not be on ESPN+, but instead televised on FS Kansas City and FS Oklahoma.
We have our own content for you to catch up on; on Thursday Drew Schneider checked in on the newest starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers, one Dean Jackson Wade. Yesterday, Luke Thompson offered the final regular season installment of our Big 12 power rankings.
The soccer team, fresh off winning three of their final five matches of the fall, take to the pitch again tonight for the first of five extra non-conference games. They’ll be hosting 25th-ranked Kansas in a 7:00 start at Buser; that game will also be on ESPN+.
K-State released its spring 2021 rowing schedule Thursday. Things kick off next Saturday with a scrimmage at Oklahoma before the first real event of the season two weeks later, a dual meet at Creighton. The first weekend of April will see the ladies in Florida at the Sunshine State Invitational, followed a week later by a triangular meet at Tulsa against the Golden Hurricanes and Central Oklahoma. The Sunflower Showdown, location to be determined, will be May 1, and the Big 12 Championships will take place in Austin on May 16.
Kellis Robinett reports at the Eagle that Skylar Thompson has been cleared for practice. Commence wild uncontrollified celebrationing.
A former Wildcat has joined the ranks of Secret Agents infiltrating other Big 12 programs at a high level. Over the past few years we’ve had K-State folks holding down head coaching spots at Oklahoma and TCU and the athletic director position at Kansas and Texas (previously) and Texas Tech (still). Now, effective May 1, enter new Oklahoma State athletic director Chad Weiberg. Weiberg spent a dozen years in Manhattan working under Tim Weiser, That Guy We Don’t Name Who Was Only AD for a Year, and John Currie, and was largely responsible for the insane elevation of K-State’s fundraising game. Cody Nagel at Oklahoma State’s 247 site introduces Cowboy fans to their new overseer.
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