Baseball opens the season with tough loss to South Alabama

Members of the Kansas State baseball team play against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan on April 22, 2017. The Wildcats went on to win the game with a final score of 8-4. (Justin Wright | The Collegian)

The Kansas State baseball team lost its opening game of 2018 to the No. 20 University of South Alabama, 12-5.

The Wildcats had a shaky start to the game, but bounced back well in the second and third innings.

K-State’s starting pitcher, sophomore Kasey Ford, gave up a double on the first pitch of the game, but then retired three consecutive batters without giving up a run.

In their first inning, the Wildcats had zero hits and left two men on base.

South Alabama started the scoring in the top of the second inning when freshman outfielder Andrew Bates hit a single to left field, sending teammate Wells Davis home for the 1-0 lead.

Later in the inning, K-State just missed a double play, but still escaped the side with no more runs.

The Wildcats countered the Jaguars’ score with two runs of their own. Redshirt junior catcher TK McWhertor stepped up to the plate with one man on base. Just two pitches in, McWhertor sent the ball high into the left field for a home run to give K-State a 2-1 lead. It was McWhertor’s first at-bat as a Wildcat.

The third inning was quite eventful for both teams.

When the Jaguars came up to bat in the third, their first three batters made it on base. Ford gave up a single to the first batter and then walked the next two. He would again walk his third batter in a row, allowing the game to be tied up at two apiece.

Ford allowed two more hits before the top of the inning commenced. Both of those hits, from Hunter Stokes and Bates, resulted in runs.

K-State took the offensive side again, trailing 4-2.

K-State looked like it would have no success, but then the tables turned in the favor of the Wildcats.

South Alabama pitcher Andy Arguelles sat down the first two batters with a pop fly and a strikeout. Something changed for him, though, as he went on to walk two straight K-State batters.

As a result, Arguelles was replaced by Zach Greene. He would not see much success in the third inning either.

McWhertor returned to the plate for K-State with the bases loaded.

Again, down 0-1 in the count, McWhertor hit the ball into play. The ball went just off the glove of South Alabama shortstop Brendan Donovan. The hit registered as a single, and McWhertor added two more runs-batted-in to his day. The score was now 4-4.

Greene went on to walk Wildcats Jake Biller and Will Brennan. Brennan’s walk scored another run for the Wildcats. They exited the third inning with a 5-4 lead.

K-State allowed no runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but they also did not score any themselves.

From that point on, the fun was over. K-State gave up four runs in the sixth and seventh innings to lose their season opener. The Wildcats were out-hit by the Jaguars, 18-7.

Despite the loss, the Wildcats were encouraged by the performance of TK McWhertor.

After redshirting last season due to Tommy John surgery, McWhertor opened the season as K-State’s starting catcher.

In his first start, he had two hits in three at-bats. Along with his first home run as a Wildcat, McWhertor racked up four runs-batted-in.

The Wildcats will have to get back on their feet quick. Teams often play back-to-back games in baseball, and that is certainly the case for K-State.

I’m Jarrett Whitson, the sports editor this semester. I’m from Blue Rapids, KS, a town of just over 1,000 people about 40 miles north of Manhattan. I’m a junior in Public Relations, and a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. I love playing and talking about sports— especially college football