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SLATE: Home Run King

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The BatCats finally take one from Oklahoma State, and Dylan Phillips etches his name atop the record book.

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship
Phillips hit his 37th, 38th, & 39th home runs this weekend to claim his throne.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball

It was another tough Big 12 weekend for Kansas State, but it wasn’t all bad for the Wildcats.

The No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys were in Manhattan for the weekend, and the Cowboys hadn’t lost a game at Tointon Family Stadium since the Wildcats swept the series in 2010. And it looked to be more of the same this weekend, as the Cowboys took Friday’s game 12-9 thanks to 10 walks and three errors issued by the Wildcats. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as Dylan Phillips tied the K-State home run record with his 37th long-ball to tie the game at 2 in the 4th. The K-State offense also responded after the issues with the defense, and despite trailing 12-2 headed into the bottom of the 6th, the Wildcats put of innings of 4 and 3 runs to tighten up the game.

Saturday also went the way of the Pokes, as OSU picked up an 8-6 victory despite an early K-State lead and a furious comeback attempt late. Dylan Phillips got started early, knocking his record-setting 38th home run in the first inning to put the Cats up 1-0. But the Cowboys responded, putting up 7 runs between the 3rd and 6th innings to take a 7-1 lead at the stretch. But a 2-run home run by Phillips in the 6th gave the Cats some life, as did three more runs in the 8th. And then it was Phillips turn to take his talents to the mound, where he faced the minimum in the 9th, recording his sixth strikeout of the season in just 2-2/3 innings of work, but the K-State offense was unable to do any more damage in the 9th.

But finally on Sunday, things went K-State’s way. In front of a capacity crowd at Tointon Family Stadium, K-State picked up a 7-2 win over the Cowboys for their first win over the Pokes since 2017, snapping a 13-game losing streak overall, plus the home losing streak dating to 2010. Dylan Phillips didn’t hit any home runs on Sunday, but he did take two walks that turned into runs, including the go-ahead score in the 7th off a Cole Johnson double. The pitching lineup saw a big shakeup of the weekend, and Connor McCullough got bumped to Sunday, where he didn’t pick up the win, but did toss 6 complete, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks. Blake Adams, who has come on in relief in his last two appearances, tossed the final three innings to grab his third win of the season, giving up just one hit and no walks, while tossing three strikes to just one over the minimum in the final three frames.

Today’s Sports Extra featured the new K-State Home Run King, and as usual it’s a great read.

After the weekend, the Wildcats stay one game above .500 at 14-13, and are now 1-5 in Big 12 play. Next up for the Cats is a Tuesday evening game vs Creighton, a one-off non-con game versus the Blue Jays this week. First pitch is set for 6pm CDT, and as usual, the game can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ if you can’t make it out to the ballpark.

Basketball

Mark Smith had a great showing at the NABC - Reese’s Division 1 College All-Star game last Friday, as the former Wildcat guard registered a near triple-double on the way to earning team MVP honors in the West All-Stars’ 115-103 loss to the East All-Stars at the Caesars Superdome as part of Final Four weekend. Smtih scored 13 points, while, as he often did this season, recording a game-high 10 rebounds, and also notching 7 assists in his 23 minutes of action. Smith is unlikely to hear his name called the NBA Draft this season, but is making a case for a spot on at least a G-League team, if not a top international team.

Former K-State men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins was officially announced as one of 13 individuals in the Class of 2022 of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Huggins was, of course, only in Manhattan for one season, but that 2006-07 season was that start of the resuscitation of a moribund K-State hoops program. He led K-State to a 23-12 overall record and a 10-6 record in Big 12 play, marking the first winning season in conference play since the 1988-89 season in Lon Kruger’s last year in Manhattan. Despite the quality record, the Cats were relegated to the NIT, where they lost in the second round. Huggins also was key in securing both Bill Walker and Michael Beasley, as well as Jacob Pullen, and then convincing them to remain in Manhattan with Frank Martin when he left for West Virginia following the season.

Football

Kade Warner surprised many when he elected to return to K-State for one more season as a Wildcat. But he wasn’t done yet, and is ready to give one more year to K-State, and catche some more passes from his former QB Adrian Martinez, who transferred to K-State from Nebraska this spring. The 6th-year senior, who spent his first four years (including a redshirt season) at Nebraska, saw action in all 13 games last season as part of the rotation at receiver, hauling in 14 catches for 166 yards, including a career high of 42 yards in his first-ever bowl game appearance in K-State’s win over LSU in the Texas Bowl.

Tennis

The Wildcats split their weekend set to wrap up their home schedule for the 2022 season. On Friday, the No. 50 Cats made a comeback attempt after falling behind 3-0 to No. 33 Iowa State, but the Cyclones came back to clinch the winning point with a straight-set win at No. 3 singles to beat the Wildcats 4-2. Senior day on Sunday was much sweeter for the Cats, as K-State sent off their seniors with a 4-0 sweep of West Virginia to grab their first win in Big 12 play this season. After the weekend, the Wildcats are now 9-9 on the season and 1-5 in Big 12 play. Next up is the final regular season set, as the Cats are headed to Texas next weekend to take on No. 23 Baylor on Friday, April 8th in Waco, and then No. 4 Texas on Sunday, April 10th in Austin.