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SLATE: Kansas State wins sixth in a row

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BatCats have scored 60 runs in the last four games

K-State will finally hit the road again this weekend.
K-State will finally hit the road again this weekend.
JT VanGilder

It’s a slow Monday; the only items we have for you aside from the main story is the Browns Wire story from Jeff Risdon on the signing of Kansas State defensive back Kiondre Thomas and a really cool list from Jeff Fisher at High School Football America listing the high school of every player selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. (Kansas had three, Missouri had four.)

The big news today, however, is K-State’s sweep of Texas Southern, completed in yet another offensive orgy. The BatCats again went home early in a 16-1 victory.

For three innings, the game was actually in doubt. Zach Kokoska lofted his team-leading 13th homer in the second, but after 312 innings the BatCats only held a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, Nick Goodwin began the inning with a double and effectively ended it with his ninth homer on the season, a three-run drive with only one out. In between, obviously, K-State went off. After Goodwin’s double, Dylan Phillips walked before Chris Ceballos homered (his eighth) for the fourth game in a row. Kokoska doubled, triggering a pitching change; Terrence Spurlin walked and then Daniel Carinci hit the rare sacrifice fly which moved two runners up. Dylan Caplinger was plunked to load the bases, and Chad Shade walked to drive in Kokoska. A Cameron Thompson single drove in Spurlin and Caplinger, followed by Goodwin’s homer. Another pitching change salvaged the inning for TSU, as Jaiden Beck was able to induce a groundout from Phillips before sitting Ceballos down on strikes, but the damage was long done as K-State held a 10-0 lead.

That was just an interruption. The Tigers got one back on a suicide squeeze in the top of the fifth, and K-State again went to work. Cameron Uselton doubled and, after moving to third on a Jordan Maxson groundout, scored on a Carinci single. Caplinger singled, and Shade got his first homer to push the tally to 14-1.

At this point, starting pitcher Kasey Ford (4-0, 1.59 ERA) — whose role as Carson Seymour’s janitor we’ve been irritated about all season — finally left the game with five innings under his belt, allowing only one run on three hits while striking out five and walking nobody. The bullpen hurled two perfect innings, recording five strikeouts in six batters, to get K-State out of the ballpark. In the sixth, K-State added its final two runs when Phillips, Kaden Fowler, and Carinci all walked in succession before Carinci flew out to center. That scored Phillips easily, and Fowler also came across when the throw from center went awry.

The win moves K-State to 27-16 (6-9 Big 12), while Texas Southern falls to 10-31. The Cats are tied with Oklahoma in sixth place, and hold that tiebreaker; technically Oklahoma State (25-14-1) is the next target at 8-10, but in reality 7-8 Baylor (27-13), in fourth place, is the more immediate concern. That’s because the BatCats travel to Waco this weekend and are in full control of their ability to put the Bears in their rear-view mirror.

As we prepare for that key series, some numbers to keep an eye on:

K-State now has a Big 12-leading 69 homers on the year (nice). The school record is now hurtling toward the BatCats rapidly, as they only need six more shots to tie the mark of 75 set in 1997. Since the Cats have left the yard in 20 of their last 21 games and have nine left to play, it’s probably just a matter of when, not if.

Chris Ceballos has had an insane week, and we’ll have to see whether his hot streak continues. Consider: Ceballos homered four times this week, doubling his season total. He had 15 RBI, giving him 29 on the season. He’s currently only hitting .237, and that’s after the tear he’s been on.

Cameron Thompson started his 227th consecutive game Sunday. He’s second all-time in K-State history, having passed Ross Kivett last month. If Thompson starts all of K-State’s remaining regular season games, he’ll go into the Big 12 tournament tied for first with Craig Wilson at 236 career starts, so K-State’s first game in that affair will see a record broken in the first inning — one way or another, as it’ll either happen when K-State takes the field for the first pitch, or when Thompson, usually the #2 hitter, bats in the top of the first.

The misuse of Kasey Ford is the only thing Pete Hughes has done this year that makes no sense. Ford has now started four games, and finished a few others. The first three starts were all mid-week affairs earlier in the season; for the most part, his job has been to be the back half of a twin Seymour-Ford thing, and usually that’s meant holding down the fort while K-State tries to rally back from the hole Seymour left them in. Now? Again, 4-0, 1.59, opposing batting average of only .194, and he’s thrown more innings than Seymour... who has a 6.60 ERA in 10 starts. Ooof.