Things seemed to be going well for the K-State baseball team in their first of two games against Cal State Bakersfield as they jumped ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning in Tointon Family Stadium last night. However, the lead was not destined to last.
Despite its reputation for lethargic pace, the game of baseball has a tendency to change quickly, and that is exactly what happened as the Roadrunners (16-22, 8-7 WAC) scored five unanswered runs in three innings to win the game 5-2 over the Wildcats (22-19, 4-8 Big 12).
“It’s just funny how baseball works,” senior pitcher Jared Moore said after the game. “I think we’re all frustrated – coaches, players, everybody – we kind of see where we are right now. But the thing is just trying to stay optimistic through it and make sure that you’re still coming out every day and doing what you can do, which is your effort. You can’t always control what happens, but you just have to make sure that this doesn’t just sink in and eat at us, because obviously we’re not where we want to be right now.”
The Wildcats started out playing well behind starter Landon Busch, who tossed 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs – one earned – off five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. The sophomore began well, punching out five batters through the game’s first three innings, but when he came out for the sixth inning, the Roadrunners offense found their rhythm and took the game over.
After Busch, freshman Jake Fromson allowed two runs – one earned – in an inning pitched and freshman Ethan Landon allowed another run in 1 2/3 innings before Moore stopped the bleeding with a scoreless ninth inning.
“One swing of the bat, and all the sudden they have momentum, and that can happen, that’s baseball,” head coach Brad Hill said. “We didn’t really have good at bats until the seventh, eighth, and ninth, and then balls found gloves. We barreled balls up and balls found gloves and it was too late.”
The K-State offense managed just seven hits on the night, led by senior first baseman Shane Conlon and junior center fielder Max Brown, who had two each. The team did manage to put plenty of men on base, however, drawing nine walks in the contest, led by senior second baseman Ross Kivett’s three.
“We just didn’t have good swings,” Hill said of his batters struggles in driving in runs. “A lot of pop-ups. Their guy was throwing a breaking ball in there, and we start chasing out of the zone and a lot of lazy fly balls, and just no bat-speed type swings. Big hop ground balls and lazy fly balls aren’t going to produce a lot of offense.”
The teams will meet again tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. in Tointon Family Stadium for the second and last game of the series.