For once, Connor McCullough didn’t need to worry about his bullpen.
The redshirt freshman lasted seven innings on Saturday against the #3 team in the nation, striking out seven, and officially left the hill with a six-run lead as Kansas State pounded Texas Tech 10-4 to take the deciding game of their three-game series at Tointon.
The Cats struck quickly Saturday, getting a two-run homer from Nick Goodwin and a solo shot from Chris Ceballos to take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Tech got two back in the fourth on a Dillon Carter double, but K-State responded in a big way in the fifth. Ceballos drew a bases-loaded walk, followed by a Zach Kokoska groundout which plated a run. Then Cameron Thompson jacked a pitch into right center for a three-run shot, and the BatCats had an 8-2 lead.
A Cody Masters homer made it 8-4 in the top of the seventh, but K-State got those runs right back in the bottom half. Dylan Phillips homered to lead off the inning; with two outs, Thompson singled and stole second before Cameron Uselton singled him home.
After that, Eric Torres came on and threw two innings of scoreless relief, striking out three and allowing only one hit. That clinched the win for K-State (15-11, 2-4) and finally got McCullough (2-1, 3.58) his second win of the year. Tech falls to 20-6, 3-3.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, the BatCats host Arkansas-Pine Bluff; those games will air on ESPN+.
Austin Siegel walks you through the big upset weekend in today’s Sports Extra.
We’ve harped on K-State’s success at home and painful road record, and today’s no exception. On Saturday at Body First, the RacketCats faced #44 Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown and — for the first time since 2014 — came away with the win, a 4-3 affair clinched in a tense final singles match by sophomore Ioana Gheorgita. That match saw a second-set tiebreak in which Gheorgita came up short before taking the point over Tiffany LaGarde 7-5, 6-7 (1-7), 6-4. The match also saw Maria Linares taking down ITA #102 Malkia Ngounoue in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).
The win improves K-State to 7-7, 2-3 while Kansas drops to 7-8, 1-3. This coming weekend is huge for the Wildcats as they host #9 Baylor on Friday and #2 Texas on Sunday.
In the grand finals of the Sunshine State Invitational on Saturday, K-State’s 1v4 crew took the bronze medal. Although they finished behind Central Florida and Clemson, just as they had on Friday, they cruised to a 23-second lead over fourth-place Kansas. Results were not so rosy for the other three Wildcat boats, as the 1v8 and 2v4 crews finished fifth and the 2v8 crew came in sixth.
The boats will be back in the water this weekend in Tulsa as the Cats compete in the Tulsa Triangular against the Golden Hurricane and Central Oklahoma.
At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dave Matter breaks down the Dajuan Gordon-Mark Smith “trade”.
Both Ryan Black at the Mercury and Kellis Robinett at the Eagle have observations from K-State’s open spring practice on Saturday, and most of the news looks good. The incoming transfers all seemed to have standout performances, and both Skylar Thompson and Will Howard looked sharp under center (Howard in scrimmage action and Thompson in 7x7 drills). Robinett also reports that we can expect to see a lot of 3-3-5 with Khalid Duke floating between rush end and linebacker, which will be fun to watch.
The only real bummer news? It seems that Jake Rubley is not only no threat to Howard’s position as Thompson’s backup, he may be the fourth option. Part of this can probably be ascribed to Rubley’s aborted senior season in high school, but it appears that he is clearly going to benefit from a redshirt in 2021.