We’ll get to the baseball in a moment, but first let’s go over the track team’s performance Saturday at the John Jacobs Invitational in Norman.
Against a field including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and several smaller Oklahoma schools, the Wildcats won 15 individual event titles yesterday. Those wins included sweeps of both the men’s and women’s titles in four different events: Travis Hodge and Alex Ferguson in the 800m, Donovan Turner (with a personal best) and Vitoria Alves in the 110/100m hurdles, Cameron Lewis and Ashley Petr (PR) in the discus, and Logan Wolfley (PR) and Briana Lowe in the javelin.
The other winners were Wurrie Njadoe in the women’s 100m (PR), Justin Davis in the men’s 400m, Sydney Burton (PR) in the women’s 1500m, the women’s 4x400 relay team of O’Shalia Johnson, Shalysa Wray, Lauren Taubert, and Kimisha Chambers, Taishia Pryce in the women’s long jump, Jesse Pinkley in the men’s pole vault (PR), and — of course — Tejaswin Shankar in the high jump.
Shankar set his season high at 2.25m, but missed on all three attempts at 2.28m. Success would have placed him atop the NCAA list for the 2021 spring season. Njadoe’s 11.46 time in the women’s 100m was the second-fastest ever for a Wildcat, nearly missing A’Keyla Mitchell’s 11.40 record set back in 2015. Likewise, Wolfley’s winning javelin throw was the second best in school history. In the women’s 1500, the Wildcats posted a 1-2-4 finish behind Burton’s winning time. The Cats posted two blowouts as well; the women’s 4x400 team won by more than eight seconds, while Pinkley’s winning vault was over a foot higher than the nearest competitor.
K-State will again be on the road next weekend as they face another gauntlet at the Texas A&M Alumni Muster.
The BatCats came about as close as you can get to clinching their weekend series with West Virginia without actually accomplishing it.
On Friday, Jordan Wicks got through four innings unmolested, but gave up a three-spot to the Mountaineers in the fifth. He made it through 6 2⁄3 while striking out 11 before giving way with a 3-1 deficit after Nick Goodwin singled and Cameron Thompson scored on an error by the center fielder in the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, Chris Ceballos hit his fourth homer, and the Cats rallied in the bottom of the ninth. Zach Kokoska led off with a walk, and after Ceballos struck out he moved to second on a wild pitch. Terrence Spurlin then struck out, but that was also on a wild pitch and Spurlin was able to reach first safely with Kokoska moving to third. Kaden Fowler came on to run for Spurlin, then Cameron Uselton pinch-hit for DH Jordan Maxson. K-State then plated the tying run when Kokoska scored on a groundout by Uselton. Blake Burrows followed with a walk, and moved to second after Fowler stole third, but Kamron Willman struck out to end the inning.
In the tenth, Tyler Eckberg (3-4) had to come on with two out in the top half with runners on first and third. He got the big strikeout to end the threat, but the Cats went down in order in their half. In the eleventh a one-out Matt McCormick double gave West Virginia life. Eckberg induced a groundout to third for the second out, but McCormick moved up.
The inning should have ended six pitches later. Nathan Blasick grounded to short, but Goodwin’s throw to first was off the mark and McCormick scored. In the bottom of the inning, Kokoska led off with a walk, but two strikeouts and a groundout ended the game, a 4-3 11-inning loss for the Wildcats.
Saturday went much better. Connor McCullough (3-2) allowed only one hit, one run, and no walks while fanning eight over seven innings, and by the time he left K-State had a 5-1 lead.
In the second, Caleb Littlejim scored on a Willman single after reaching on an error with two out and then stealing second. In the fourth, another error led to an unearned run, but the other two that scored on the same play were legit. Ceballos walked and Kokoska reached on a fielding error by first baseman McCormick. Spurlin then jacked a drive over the fence in right field to give the Cats a 4-0 lead. After a Littlejim groundout, Willman followed with a triple, Dylan Caplinger was hit by a pitch, and then a wild pitch scored Willman and moved Caplinger to second; that made it 5-0.
It could have been even more. Thompson walked, and that chased West Virginia starter Jake Carr. But Zach Ottinger came on for the Mountaineers and struck out Goodwin and Dylan Phillips to end the threat.
In the top of the sixth, McCullough hit Braden Barry, who then moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on an infield single, and scored on a sacrifice fly. That infield single was the only damage done to McCullough on the day. The final run in the Cats’ 5-2 victory came in the top of the ninth when a runner scored on a wild pitch, and you may be sensing a theme for the weekend by now. In the first two games of the series, the teams have combined for a ridiculous 11 errant pitches.
The series concludes today at 1:00, and airs on ESPN+.
From the Anderson (Ind.) Herald Bulletin comes a draft preview of Briley Moore from George Bremer. It’s a good read with some nice personal information on the Wildcat tight end.
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