After running their winning streak to nine games after a series opening win over Baylor, the wheels fell off a bit in Waco as the Cats dropped their last two contests to drop the series and head back home at 13-7 overall and 1-2 in Big 12 play. It’s not all bad news, as K-State still sports a better record than TCU here in the early going, but this was a series that the BatCats needed to pick up if they wanted to keep pace later in the season.
On Friday, it was all-K-State, as the BatCats went up 4-0 early on, then cruised to an 8-1 victory to open Big 12 play with a win. It’s the first win in a Big 12 opener since 2012, and the first win in a Big 12 road opener since way back in 2006. It was also the first 9-game win streak since 2014. The Cats did it again without hitting a ball over the fence, but smacked 10 hits, and snagged five stolen bases on the evening.
Saturday started well, with the Cats quickly up 1-0 after the first, but a run in the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th had Baylor up 3-1 before a 3-run outburst in the 6th all-but sealed the victory for the hosts despite three runs between the 7th & 8th innings for the Wildcats to make things interesting. But two more runs for the Bears in the bottom of the 8th finished things off, as Baylor took game two of the series 8-4.
On Sunday, it looked like the Cats were going to bounce back and take the series. The BatCats opened with four runs in the first four innings, capped by a Cash Rugely solo homerun in the 4th, and held a 4-0 lead headed into the bottom of the 6th. But then things went haywire. Starter German Fajardo, who had pitched a gem to that point, gave up a couple of singles after knocking out the first batter, and then gave way to the normally solid Ty Ruhl. Except that the sophomore came out of the bullpen and plunked the first two batters he faced to break the shutout, then a fielding error off a simple infield grounder from the next batter scored two more runs, then three more singles sandwiched a fly-out before Ruhl was finally relieved by Mason Buss. The freshman gave up two more hits, but the Cats were finally able to end the inning after catching Baylor being aggressive on the base paths after the final hit. All-in, the Bears put up 8 runs in the bottom of the 6th, five of them unearned. K-State couldn’t managed a rally, and again fell 8-4 to drop the opening series.
But the Cats are back in action today in Manhattan looking to reset and get back on the winning track. St. Thomas is in town for a two game series, with game one set for a 6pm first pitch this evening from Tointon Family Stadium, and game two set for the same start time on Wednesday. Both games should be available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ (Wednesday’s definitely will, but it’s possible there may be no broadcast on Tuesday due to conflicts with the women’s WNIT game), and live audio can be heard on KMAN in Manhattan and streaming on K-StateSports.com. The Tommies enter the week at just 1-12 on the season, so hopefully these are two big blowout wins for the Wildcats.
Last Thursday night the Kansas State women opened their postseason WNIT action with an absolute throttling of in-state rival Wichita State as the MittieCats (18-16) ended the Shockers (18-15) season with a 90-56 victory. And really, it was a far more impressive blowout than the final score indicates, as K-State held a 47-point lead in the 3rd before taking their foot off the gas and getting significant minutes for the bench through the 4th quarter. K-States four guards are contributed double figures led by Serena Sundell’s 16, and Jaelyn Glenn grabbed her third double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Next up, the Cats host Wyoming tonight from Bramlage Coliseum, as the Cats will look to make their own postseason journey a little sweeter. K-State is 4-3 all-time against the Cowgirls, but have dropped the last two, both in Laramie, including a 3OT loss that knocked the Cats out of the WNIT in 2007 to end their title defense. But K-State is 3-0 versus the Cowgirls in Manhattan, and Jeff Mittie is 3-0 against them from his time at TCU when both were in the Mountain West. Tip off is scheduled for 6pm CT, and will be available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Brian Smoller (play-by-play) and Missy Heidrick (analyst) on the call, plus the game can be heard on Sunny 102.5 in the Manhattan area and online at K-StateSports.com.
The K-State men are officially on their way to New York City for their Sweet 16 matchup with Michigan State on Thursday. The squad left Manhattan this morning headed to the Big Apple, and a return to home for four members of the Wildcats squad, plus grad-assistant Curtis Kelly. The Wildcats and Spartans lead off the Sweet 16 with a 5:30pm CT matchup on TBS. It will be the 8th meeting all-time between the two programs, with the Spartans holding a 3-game winning streak, all in the 90’s. The two schools have never met in the postseason.