Kansas State is now 0-1 in Big 12 play, and Jordan Wicks saw his season ERA balloon all the way to 2.65 in the space of just six innings as the BatCats (13-8, 0-1) were savagely pummeled by 13th-ranked Oklahoma State (13-6-1, 1-0) in a 14-5 loss last night in Stillwater.
The game started out okay; a Chris Ceballos homer in the fourth led to K-State entering the bottom of the sixth trailing only 3-2. But Wicks gave up a two-run homer in that inning, and then the bullpen surrendered nine unanswered runs. K-State rallied up three runs in the ninth, but all that did was make the loss just a little less humiliating.
Wicks (4-1) didn’t actually have a bad game, really. He struck out nine in his six innings, and only gave up six hits and two walks. But two of those six hits were very costly, as they left the park with runners on. It was the first time in his Wildcat career that Wicks gave up two jacks in one start.
Game two is tonight at 6:00pm, with no video apparently. Carson Seymour (1-2, 4.88) is due to face Justin Wrobleski (1-2, 2.86).
This is not really about us, but in a way it still very much is. After 35 seasons on the sidelines, Wildcat legend Lon Kruger has retired. A star player under Jack Hartman who was named Big 12 Player of the Year twice in 1973 and 1974, Kruger was an all-around athlete. The Hawks drafted him in 1974, he played a season of minor league baseball with the Cardinals organization, and the Dallas Cowboys invited him to try out at quarterback.
But none of that really worked out, so he came back to Kansas. After a single year as an assistant at Pittsburg State, Hartman brought him home; he helped as an assistant for a year before taking the following season off to play in Israel, then came back for another three-year stint aside Hartman. He was then hired as the head coach at Pan American before coming home yet again when Hartman stepped down in 1986, becoming the head coach.
Kruger led K-State to the Elite Eight in 1988, but in 1990 he was lured to Florida. He then went to Illinois, then had a painful stint in the NBA with Atlanta — the team that had drafted him 26 years earlier. He spent a year as an assistant with the Knicks before finally landing someplace for more than four years, taking over at UNLV in 2004.
In 2011, Oklahoma pried him free from Vegas, and he spent the longest tenure of his career at Lloyd Noble, coaching the Sooners for ten seasons. Despite amazingly never once winning an outright conference regular-season championship, Kruger made the second round of the NCAA tournament with five of the six teams he coached, taking four to the Sweet Sixteen, three to the Elite Eight, and two to the Final Four. He departs with a career record of 674-432.
Although there was some bitterness among K-State faithful toward Kruger at the time of his departure for Florida, that’s mostly eroded over time as the blame for the almost immediate downfall of the Wildcat basketball program has been laid at the feet of other parties. There have been times — including for some fans, the present — when he’d have been welcomed back to the K-State sideline with open arms. Kruger has always been one of the good guys in the sport, and if he truly is done for good it’s a loss to the sport.
This isn’t about us at all, other than him being 0-2 against K-State and being outscored 94-10. But in hot breaking news: Howard Schnellenberger, former head coach at Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma, and Florida Atlantic, has passed away at the age of 87. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has the scoop.
K-State and Kansas City NWSL have rescheduled their previously-postponed closed friendly for April 1. Ahead of that, they’ll face Missouri in Columbia tomorrow afternoon.
Track and Field
Despite only host Wichita State and guest North Dakota State joining the Wildcats, there was only one first-place finish for K-State on day one of the Shocker Invitational as Cara Melgares won the women’s 5k with a personal best 17:31.58. Helene Ingvaldsen took second in the women’s hammer with a personal best 66.22m, freshman Kade McCall also took second in the men’s hammer, Kassidy Johnson was third in the women’s 1500m, and K-State went 2-3-4-5 in the men’s 5k.
Today, the discus, shot put, jumping events, and short-track running will take place.
We need a doctor. K-State tennis is fine at home, but on the road there’s a serious problem. The Wildcats (5-6, 0-3) took the doubles point at Iowa State yesterday, but got bounced 4-2 as the 33rd-ranked Cyclones (11-4, 3-2) reeled off singles wins.
The bad news: they’re still on the road, facing West Virginia in Morgantown tomorrow.
The men are in West Point, Mississippi, for the Old Waverly this weekend. After round one yesterday, K-State is in eighth place out of 14 teams, but three of the teams behind them — Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Alabama — are in the top 25, and only one team ahead of them isn’t ranked. The Cats sit at 1-over, eight shots back of leaders LSU; Tim Tillmans is at 2-under, tied for eighth three shots back of Mississippi State’s Ford Clegg, the round one leader.
They’re already underway today, and play will conclude tomorrow.
The women will also tee off tomorrow at The Bruzzy in Argyle, Tex., hosted by North Texas.
The Wildcat crews will be in Omaha today for the Creighton Duel (yes, Duel, not Dual, even though it’s a dual — oh, never mind). It’s the first official competition for K-State in over a year.
K-State will conclude its home schedule for this very weird 2020-21 season tomorrow at Bramlage against D-II Wayne State (Neb.). That’ll air on ESPN+.