What was originally supposed to be a Thursday-Friday-Saturday affair in Austin (to account for Easter Sunday) became a standard series due to storms in central Texas on Thursday. Regardless, K-State comes home avoiding a sweep at the hand of the Longhorns, falling 6-5 on Friday, winning 6-5 on Saturday, and falling 8-2 on Sunday to fall to 20-14 overall and 6-6 in Big 12 play.
On Friday, it was actually K-State’s game to lose going into the late innings. UT went up 1-0 in the first, but the BatCats responded with two of their own in the second, and then Owen Boerema pitched six straight scoreless innings and the offense added three more runs in the top of the 7th. But then Pete Hughes made the decision to let Boerema go one more...and the wheels fell off. Boerema gave up three quick hits, two of them doubles, before Ty Ruhl came in relief, and he gave up two more hits and a sacrifice fly-out that finally snagged the first out of of the inning — but gave up the go-ahead run. Despite limiting anymore damage in the 8th, the Cats couldn’t mount a comeback in the ninth and fell 6-5 on Friday. Before the 8th inning, Boerema had pitched an absolute gem: tossing 12 K’s to just one walk, giving up just five hits, and faced the minimum from the 3rd through the 5th innings (and just two over the minimum from the 2nd through the 6th).
Saturday was the opposite, including the teams swapping scores. K-State went up first with a 2-run 4th inning, but the Horns responded with a 4-run 4th, and then tacked on another in the 5th for a 5-2 lead. But the Cats answered in the 6th with a solo shot from Brendan Jones, his fifth home run of the season. And then the Bats really got going in the 7th, as K-State worked some small-ball and got an assist from a wild pitch to grab three runs that probably could’ve been more, but Raphael Pelletier got caught at home trying to snag a fourth run for the final out of the inning. Then it was up to Tyson Neighbors to finish things, and he did just that. Neighbors fanned the first four batters he faced before giving up a walk in the 8th, and finished the game with 8 strikeouts against 11 batters, and gave up just one hit, a two-out single in the 9th. That performance helped K-State hang on for a 6-5 victory to even the series.
Sunday was all-Longhorns, as they tacked on a pair of runs each in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, & 5th innings for an 8-2 victory to take the series. The Cats actually did lead going into the bottom of the 1st, as a sac fly from Nick Goodwin scored Cash Rugely to give the BatCats an early 1-0 lead. And it looked like a comeback might happen again as the Cats halved the UT lead to 4-2 with a solo homerun from Cole Johnson in the top of the 4th, but the Cats couldn’t generate any more runs despite getting the bases loaded, and with two outs Dom Hughes grounded-out to first base to end K-State’s last real threat of the game.
No rest for the weary, as K-State returns home today for the return match of the home-and-home series with Creighton, as the Wildcats and Bluejays are set to face off this evening at 6pm CDT at Tointon Family Stadium. This game marks the 100th meeting between K-State and Creighton, with the Cats leading the all-time series 54-44-1 — including a 38-19-1 mark in Manhattan. The Cats are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings and 3-2 under head coach Pete Hughes. If you can’t make it out to the ballpark, you can catch the action on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, and over-the-air on KMAN in Manhattan.
You may be more interested in news of Jerome Tang and Kansas State making moves in the transfer portal...but right now we still don’t have any. Just like last year at this time when we fans were wringing our hands about the lack of news, the coaches are working with patience and going after very specific fits. Just remember, if some hot name you were hoping for doesn’t end up at K-State, it worked out just fine this year when the staff took the patience approach to roster building and rode it to snagging Keyontae Johnson and Desi Sills late — two guys who were pivotal in the run to the Elite Eight.
So without portal news, we do still have basketball news. This summer, as part of a series of exhibition games as part of the newish Alumni Basketball League, KU and K-State alumni teams will meet up in Kansas City in June. The ABL, and Alumni Basketball League Summer Rivalry exhibition games, currently feature five teams: Manhattan Boomers (K-State), Self’s Army (KU), College Park Boys (Maryland), Dawgtalk (Georgetown) and Forever Orange (Syracuse). Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush are leading KU’s squad against Jordan Henriquez’s K-State squad at 7pm, June 10th at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Brandon’s older brother Kareem Rush (who played at Missouri) is apparently the organizer of the league.
The 2023 Big 12/Big East Battle games have been announced, and it will be a showdown of Wildcats in Bramlage on December 5th, as K-State has been paired with Villanova for the fifth edition of the Battle. It will be just the second meeting all-time between the two programs, and there are few alive who would have witnessed Nova’s 51-34 win over K-State on December 27th, 1940 in Philadelphia. K-State will be looking to snag their first win in the Battle as well, as the Cats have gone just 0-3 so far, with two losses to Marquette as well as the loss to Butler earlier this season.
After the last Slate dropped, Jerome Tang also addressed the media as a wrap-up of the 2022-23 season as well as a look-ahead. There’s a lot in there to unpack, but Tang is saying all the right things, and despite being a head coach for barely a full year now, sounds like he’s a seasoned pro.
Since we last saw you, the K-State football team had another media session, this time featuring the K-State defensive coaches. Of course, replacing Eli Huggins and Felix Anudike-Uzomah will be a challenge, but at least one of those has a “quick-fix” already available. It sounds like Khalid Duke has been moved back down to EDGE permanently to hopefully replace FAU’s production at that spot. And it’s a good thing on multiple levels, as it also opens up a linebacker spot next to 5
0-year vet Daniel Green, who chose to use his COVID year instead of heading off for a shot at the NFL. There was also a lot of praise for the newcomers, who are still getting up to speed but have shown flashes of their future potential. Klanderman also needs to replace veteran CBs Julius Brents and Ekow Boye-Doe (both of whom are likely to be on NFL rosters next fall), and like the back-end, will look to have a “committee” approach, at least early on, but Jacob Parrish and Omar Daniels will likely have a leg up after the freshman pair saw a lot of action last season.
Your K-State Classy Cats have won back-to-back national titles after picking up their second-straight College Classic Division 1A Pom title on Saturday in Orlando. On top of the championship, they did well overall as they placed third in Division 1A Jazz and fifth in Spirit Showdown. Congrats, ladies!