Baseball drops 2 of 3 to Texas Tech in weekend series

On March 8, the K-State baseball team had its opening home game against Old Dominion. The Wildcats lost 5-0. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State baseball team lost the first two games of its home series against No. 10 Texas Tech, but the Wildcats came through with big hits late in the final game to avoid a three-game sweep.

The Wildcats came up short in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader and three-game series.

K-State freshman Griffin Hassall pitched a full six innings allowing three runs — only one earned run — and four total hits. Following Hassall, there were not many positive things to say about the pitching for the Wildcats, perhaps explaining why the final score ended up 11-4 in favor of the Red Raiders.

K-State took the first lead in the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when sophomore Jordan Maxson hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score sophomore Zach Kokoska. The Wildcats were able to distance themselves with another run as freshman Dylan Phillips scored on a wild pitch to give K-State a 2-0 lead.

Texas Tech was able to get a run back in the top of the fifth inning because of a fielding error by Phillips at first base.

The Red Raiders’ comeback attempts continued in the sixth inning as they tied up the game at 2-2 before a fielding error by K-State senior Rainer Ausmus allowed Max Marusak to flip the score in favor of Texas Tech 3-2.

The Wildcats got one more productive piece of offense in the game as Phillips sent a rocket over the fence in right field to make it a 3-3 game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The top of the seventh inning was an inning of doom for the Wildcats. The Red Raiders scored three runs to take control of the game; it took the Wildcats two pitchers to get through the inning.

The eighth inning was more of the same for the Red Raiders; the inning involved two pitchers for the Wildcats, although this time it was walks that killed the Wildcats.

The Red Raider’s first three runs of the inning came from a walk with the bases loaded. Then, Texas Tech got their fourth and final run of the inning — also their 10th run of the game.

The Wildcats continued to fight, though, mustering two hits and one run in the inning. In the top of the ninth, Texas Tech had one last player touch home plate to cap off its 11-4 win.

K-State also dropped the second game of the doubleheader Saturday night by a score of 4-3. The Wildcats put runs on the scoreboard first again with a big second inning that included three runs.

K-State got another solid starting pitching performance when Jordan Wicks recorded nine strikeouts and four earned runs in five innings.

“He was excellent,” head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Sports, regarding Wicks. “He’s frustrated … because he couldn’t finish people with all four runs coming with two outs, and [Texas Tech’s] big hits came with two strikes. … I know Jordan is frustrated, but he competes like crazy and he always pitches good enough to give his teammates a chance to win.”

K-State’s offense looked good, but just like in game one, the Red Raiders surged back.

After two runs by Texas Tech, the game was 3-2 in favor of the Wildcats in the third.

K-State was in a similar position as in game one. It was now a matter of if they could hold on to the early lead.

That question was answered in the fifth inning, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the answer the Wildcats were looking for as the Red Raiders took the lead with two RBI singles.

In the seventh inning, the Wildcats had a great opportunity to tie the game as Ausmus hit a ball deep to right-center field, getting himself to third base.

With junior Cameron Thompson at-bat with a .321 batting average, it was a favorable matchup for the Wildcats to get Ausmus home to tie the game, but Thompson struck out and Ausmus was stranded at third base.

That ended up being the best chance the Wildcats would get to tie the game.

Fortunately, K-State avoided the sweep and defeated Texas Tech 5-4 on Sunday to finish the series.

For the first time in the series, the Red Raiders put runs on the scoreboard first, scoring a run in the top of the second.

The Wildcats didn’t have the starting pitching they had in the first two games of the series, as junior Kasey Ford was taken out of the game after just 2.1 innings. He allowed just one run on two hits, along with three strikeouts.

The Red Raiders added another run in the fourth inning, putting them up 2-0.

K-State scored its first run soon after to make the game 2-1 in the fourth inning.

Texas Tech extended its lead back to two runs in the top of the fifth as Warren hit a sacrifice fly to left field.

K-State responded in the bottom of the fifth inning when Phillips reached base on a fielder’s choice and junior Chris Ceballos was able to score from third base on the throw to second.

But the Red Raiders’ lead went back to two in the top of the seventh as Dylan Neuse sent a line drive just over the right-field wall, leaving K-State down 4-2.

The seventh inning started with Ceballos being hit by a pitch. Then, Phillips was at-bat with runners on second and third base with a chance to tie up the game, and he came through, scoring both runners.

“I was just trying to put it in play,” Phillips said to K-State Sports. “It was a fastball in. I stayed on it and got it out there.”

Later in the inning, with two outs, senior Thomas Hughes came through for the Wildcats as he brought Phillips home to give the Wildcats a 5-4 lead. With no runs scored after that, K-State won 5-4.

The Wildcats’ record is now 12-16 overall and 1-5 in Big 12 Conference play. They will next host the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.