If there’s a team in college baseball that knows a thing or two about depressing losses, it’s K-State.
The No. 19 Oklahoma State Cowboys, 17-7 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12, came to Manhattan this weekend for a three-game series against the Wildcats. K-State, 11-13 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12, dropped the first game 2-1 and then lost the second game 5-4 on the last play in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The stereotype that bad things usually come in threes held true for K-State in game three. The Wildcats battled the Cowboys and even took them into an extra inning before falling 5-4.
“There are no moral victories in losing three one-run games to a top-25 ballclub, but on the positive side of it, it’s three one-run games to a top-25 ballclub,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said to K-State Sports. “It’s that close. It’s the little mistakes, and that’s what also defines losing. Little mistakes beat you. The first day, we can’t drive a run in with runners on third base. The next day it’s walks, and today, defense.”
Junior pitcher Tyler Buffett earned the win for Oklahoma State and improved to 4-1. K-State senior pitcher Lucas Benenati fell to 0-1 with the loss.
The Cowboys put numbers on the scoreboard early as senior outfielder Corey Hassel and senior infielder Donnie Walton both doubled in their at-bats, and Oklahoma State got the 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning.
K-State senior outfielder Clayton Dalrymple did not let the Cowboys’ lead stay unblemished for long. He made his way around the bases for a Wildcat score in the bottom of the first.
The Cowboys kept the scoring going in the top of the second inning with two outs already against them. Junior infielder J.R. Davis doubled to right and drove in sophomore outfielder Jon Littel. A fielding error by the Wildcats followed that play and allowed Davis to cross the plate, giving the Cowboys a 3-1 lead after the top of the second.
The score held until the fifth inning when Dalrymple was once again the Wildcats’ source of offense. Dalrymple doubled to right in his at-bat and was driven home by senior shortstop Tyler Wolfe.
K-State was within striking distance.
Oklahoma State created more separation in the eighth thanks to a home run from sophomore infielder Garrett Benge.
The extra space would only be around for a short time, however, as the Wildcats responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs.
The bases were loaded for K-State, and senior outfielder Danny Krause stepped up to the plate. Krause walked and brought home a run, slowly closing the gap.
The next score in the inning came from yet another Cowboy mistake. Freshman outfielder Michael Smith was hit by a pitch and brought home another run as the bases were still loaded.
With the game tied 4-4 after nine innings, the teams went to battle for another inning.
In the top of the tenth, the Cowboys had the bases loaded when Davis hit a fly-ball into left field. The Wildcats caught it, but Cowboy junior outfielder Ryan Sluder tagged up at third base and ran home to score, creating a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom, K-State had junior infielder Jake Wodtke just 90 feet from home plate and another inning of baseball. But a ground ball from Wolfe allowed Oklahoma State to get Dalrymple out at second, ending the game and handing the Wildcats their seventh straight loss.
“We could have easily chunked it today, pitchers come out and give up runs,” Hill said to K-State Sports. “We didn’t do that, to our credit. But we do need to get it turned around. Someone needs to get a big hit. Someone needs to make that play, and we don’t need to walk some guys in key situations.”
The Wildcats will look to turn it around when they host Omaha, 14-10, at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.