College baseball season is officially underway, and for Kansas State, that means a 2-2 start to the year in California against California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
The first game of the season was suspended after five innings due to rain with the score tied 4-4.
In those first five innings, junior starting pitcher Tyler Eckberg threw a career-high nine strikeouts.
Junior catcher Chris Ceballos came through with a single that drove in a run in the second inning. Junior third baseman Caleb Littlejim hit a two-run homer to tie the game at two in the fourth inning. This was Littlejim’s first hit of his K-State career. Junior outfielder Will Brennan went 2-2 with a double.
When the game resumed Saturday, sophomore right hander Jaxon Passino threw two innings while giving up two runs, and striking out five. Junior right hander Brett Lockwood closed out the game, but gave up four runs on five hits. This gave game one to the Matadors.
Game number two on Saturday gave head coach Pete Hughes his first win at the helm of the Wildcat program.
Freshman left hander Jordan Wicks pitched a strong five innings, giving up one run on six hits and striking out seven batters. The sole run came on a homer in the fifth inning.
Littlejim scored on a wild pitch for K-State’s first run of the day in the third inning. Freshman outfielder Dylan Phillips homered to right in the fourth. Junior second baseman Cameron Thompson scored on a RBI groundout from Brennan.
Freshman lefty Joey Martin gave up one run in his one inning of relief work.
The Wildcats pushed ahead of the Matadors in the ninth inning with two homers and a fly out to center field. The game ended at a score of 6-5.
Game three on Sunday went to the Matadors by a score of 4-2.
Brennan pitched for six innings, giving up three runs on two hits. Brennan walked two and hit one batter, but struck out six.
Senior infielder Thomas Hughes hit a home run in the first inning, followed by Phillips hitting a sacrifice fly that drove in Thompson putting K-State an early 2-0 lead.
The Matadors scored three of their four runs in the first inning.
In the eighth inning, sophomore right hander Gavin Hinchliffe, who pitched two innings in relief for the Wildcats, gave up one run on two hits and one walk to the Matadors. The Wildcats failed to score, dropping this game 4-2.
In the fourth and final game of the series on Monday afternoon, the Wildcats had a chance to split their first road series of the year.
Junior right hander Kasey Ford started this final game for the Wildcats going 4.2 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits. Ford walked five and sent five batters back to the dugout.
The Matadors jumped out to an early three run lead in the first two innings. Two homers came off the bats of center fielder Robert Bullard and shortstop Brandon Bohning.
Ceballos scored on a wild pitch in the third inning from Blake Soderston of CSUN, but the Wildcats left two runners on base.
Littlejim drove in Ceballos in the fourth pulling the Wildcats within one run. Ceballos drove in Spurlin on a single that went through the right side in the sixth. Littlejim was back up at the plate as he doubled to right, advancing on a throwing error, while driving in Ceballos. This gave K-State a 5-3 advantage.
CSUN drove in two runs to tie the game in the seventh against K-State senior pitcher Mitch Zubradt, who inherited the runners from freshman right hander Griffin Hassall.
The ninth inning saw six runs scored all coming off the bats of the Wildcats. Sophomore catcher Jordan Maxson doubled to right center driving in two runs. Spurlin singled driving in Burrows. Ceballos tripled driving in two runs and then scored the 11th run of the game for K-State on a balk. K-State won this game 11-5.
The Wildcats split their first series of the year on the road with the Matadors. They will continue their California road trip with one game against California Baptist (4-0) on Wednesday. First pitch is 8 p.m. and can be heard on KMAN Radio.