It’s a Monday in March, and there’s literally nothing to share with you outside reports from Kansas State’s own website that we didn’t already cover ourselves — to wit, Drew’s reporting on the decisions by Dajuan Gordon and Rudi Williams to transfer. So we’ll get right into the actual news.
K-State claimed the weekend series against New Mexico at Tointon two games to one. The weekend began with another smoke outing from Jordan Wicks, who whiffed 10 Lobos in six innings while only walking three and giving up a lone run, a sixth-inning solo homer by Jack Silverman. That very nearly cost Wicks the decision, as it tied the game at 1-1 after a fourth inning single by Chris Ceballos staked the ace to a 1-0 lead.
But Ceballos had Wicks’s back. In the bottom of the frame, the Wildcat DH drove in two runs with another single to give the decision back to Wicks (4-0, 1.72); a batter later, Zach Kokoska launched his seventh homer of the season and suddenly K-State had a 5-1 lead. New Mexico’s defense allowed two more unearned Wildcat runs in the seventh while Tyler Eckberg threw two perfect innings to close out the 7-1 victory for his third save.
Saturday was not so fun. Kokoska got K-State on the board in the bottom of the first with an RBI single, but Carson Seymour (1-2, 4.88) gave up five earned runs in five innings and the Lobos added a sixth in the seventh inning off Kasey Ford (1-0, 1.23), who threw four innings in relief. The Cats tried to rally, scoring two in the eighth on another Kokoska single and one in the ninth on Cole Johnson’s first homer of the season, but it wasn’t enough as the BatCats fell 6-4.
Sunday? Sunday was nuts. Strap in for this one. After all his great work so far this season, most of which got thrown overboard by his defense and bullpen, Connor McCullough finally had a bad day. Coming in with a sub-1.00 ERA, McCullough got rocked for six runs — all earned — in just three innings.
And still left the game with the lead, but was ineligible for the win because he came out so early.
The Lobos scored two in the first, but K-State responded with a huge station-to-station inning. Kamron Willman and Cameron Thompson singled, Nick Goodwin walked, Dylan Phillips doubled to clear the bases and give K-State the lead, Kokoska got hit by a pitch, and after a Ceballos popout Daniel Carinci singled to drive in Phillips. Caleb Littlejim struck out before Dylan Caplinger singled to plate Kokoska and put K-State in front 5-2.
New Mexico tied the game in the top of the second, aided by a two-run homer by Mack Chambers; no problem for the Wildcats. Thompson homered, Goodwin doubled, Phillips homered, 8-5. After another Lobo run in the third, K-State finally piled on the dirt. A Goodwin walk was bracketed by Thompson and Phillips being hit by pitches; with the bases jacked, Kokoska pounded a grand slam, his eighth homer of the year, to give K-State a 12-6 lead.
Thompson homered again in the fifth, a solo shot and his fifth of the season. New Mexico plated a couple in the sixth, but the BatCats got them both back when Willman doubled in two runs in the bottom half of the inning. In the eighth, Littlejim ripped a two-run homer, his first of the year, to finish the scoring at 17-8.
Eric Torres (2-0, 7.00) got the win in relief of McCullough, throwing 21⁄3 innings. Eckberg threw 22⁄3 innings of perfect relief after that, and Littlejim closed with a scoreless ninth.
The five homers for K-State (13-6) give them 30 so far on the season, which is more than some K-State teams in recent memory have managed for an entire campaign. The win was number 700 for coach Pete Hughes. Next up, K-State visits Wichita State on Tuesday night, a one-shot game preceding the beginning of Big 12 play at Oklahoma State this weekend.
Aliyah Carter keeps rocking. Her 26 kills led K-State (12-7) to a 3-1 victory over #24 Creighton (8-3) on Saturday, 25-15, 21-25, 25-21, 25-19. Her freshman partner in crime, Jayden Nembhard, added 11 kills.
K-State finishes its spring schedule at home on Sunday against Wayne State (NE), a Division II school. They’ll then await their at-large fate for the belated NCAA Tournament.
Track and Field
The competition wasn’t entirely world-class — although Baylor and Texas were present, and deprived the Wildcats of a few wins — but K-State got the outdoor season off to a good start at the UTSA Invitational this weekend. Wildcat athletes came home with 13 victories in all despite several big-name Wildcats not competing in this opening event.
On Friday, the Wildcats stood tall in the combined events as Matas Adamonis claimed the decathlon win while Lauren Taubert, Ariel Okorie, and Urte Bacianskaite swept the podium in the heptathlon. Taubert, finally rejoining the team after being forced to compete as an unattached athlete during the indoor season because she used her final indoor year of eligibility before COVID interrupted everything, cruised to an easy victory by individually winning six of the seven events.
Also on Friday, Hadley Splechter won the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Taylor Latimer won the women’s shot put, K-State wrecked the women’s weight throw by finishing 1-2-3-4-6 (Helene Ingvaldsen, Shaelyn Ward, Ashley Petr, Latimer, and Jaycee Schroeder respectively), Cameron Lewis won the men’s shot, and Logan Wolfley and Luke Ralston went 1-2 in the men’s javelin.
Saturday’s action saw the men’s team of Darian Clarke, Jah Strange, Justin Davis, and Jullane Walker take the 4x100m relay and the women’s team of O’Shalia Johnson, Shalysa Wray, Lavaun Stephenson, and Kimisha Chambers take the 4x400 crown, Vitoria Alves winning the women’s 100m hurdles, Walker claiming the men’s 200m, Noah Stevenson the men’s 1500m, Kyle Alcine winning the men’s high jump in the absence of Tejaswin Shankar (nursing a minor injury incurred at the NCAA Indoors), and Lewis and Petr adding to their hauls by respectively taking the men’s and women’s discus. No Wildcats competed in the triple jump, largely because they’re all recovering from last weekend.
It’s officially a losing streak. #46 K-State (4-5) fell on Sunday to #45 Kansas by a 4-1 score in Lawrence. Maria Linares managed the only win of the day for the Wildcats. They’ll get right back at it today at home as they face DePaul (7-1) at Body First.
The women finished in ninth place in the 14-team field at the Wildcat-hosted Mountainview Collegiate in Tucson, Ariz. The Cats finished at 29-over, 49 shots back of champs Oklahoma State. Reid Isaac managed a 1-over 217 on the weekend, finishing tied for 16th, 12 strokes behind Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark.
The Cats will return to the tees on Sunday for the two-day Bruzzy in Argyle, Tex.
The closed friendly scheduled for Saturday with Kansas City NWSL was postponed due to issues within K-State’s program, per the release from K-State Soccer. They’re hoping to reschedule. In the meantime the Cats get ready for their next match, Sunday afternoon ast Missouri.
Football? Football. Saturday, April 3, K-State will hold its final spring practice at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and you are invited (as long as you wear a mask and socially distance). It’s seating-only, with none of the usual interaction available with the team, but hey... it’s football-like substance. There is no stated attendance restriction, but only the lower west side will be open and since social distancing is required, there’s not going to be that much room.