Kansas State baseball opened an eight-game homestand with a dramatic 9-8 win over Western Michigan on Friday night. The Wildcats rode a five-run eighth inning to take game one of the three-game series.
“We battled back twice from four-run deficits and that is a mark of a good team,” head coach Pete Hughes said. “You can play when you are four runs up or four runs down the right way. We did it — no one ever panicked. We got some big hits, traffic on the bases and hit a mistake.”
Sophomore starting pitcher Jordan Wicks tossed six innings with ten strikeouts for the second consecutive start.
“I thought he was awesome early on,” Hughes said. “He made one mistake really when he was up 0-2 and the get that home run.”
The lefty allowed five runs, one earned on six hits with one walk.
Redshirt junior pitcher Tyler Ekberg collected his second save of the season and the bullpen as a whole allowed only three runs off four hits. Junior pitcher Jaxson Passino recorded the win for the Wildcats after pitching the eighth.
“I thought the bullpen came in and battled,” Wicks said.
Sophomore starter Easton Sikorski allowed three runs on six hits with six strikeouts. The Bronco bullpen gave up six runs and walked six. Sophomore pitcher Dane Armbrustmacher got the loss for Western Michigan.
Wicks got into trouble in the top of the fourth with two on and one out. Western Michigan junior second baseman Justin McIntyre drew a walk to open the rally. The first run for the Broncos came on an RBI single. Senior shortstop Drew Devine cleared the bases with a three-run home run to put pressure on the K-State offense.
Wicks battled out of jams using the changeup.
“I thought the changeup was big today,” Wicks said. “It was consistent, had a lot of action and it was late. When we get three things going, you are going to have success.”
The Broncos threatened with a one-out triple the following inning, but Wicks got a strikeout and a fly-out to end the threat.
K-State responded with a three-run inning of their own. Junior first baseman Terrence Spurlin and senior outfielder Caleb Littlejim hit back-to-back singles and drove in with a three-run home run by junior outfielder Zach Kokoska.
Western Michigan extended its lead in the sixth with an RBI sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Ethan Hajdukovic, but the K-State dugout didn’t panic.
With back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the sixth, K-State cashed in with a two-out RBI double by senior third baseman Cameron Thompson. The Bronco bullpen escaped with the bases loaded to limit the damage.
The game seemed to get away from the Wildcats in the top of the seventh with another three-run inning by the Broncos to take an 8-4 lead.
The Wildcat rallied in the bottom of the eighth with a five-run inning on a solo home run by Spurlin and a three-run blast by freshman second baseman Nick Goodwin to tie the game at 8-8.
Goodwin struck out with the bases loaded the previous inning but bounced back in the clutch.
“It was a pretty mature approach for his next at-bat after a disappointing at-bat,” Hughes said of Goodwin. “To be in the right mindset to put himself in a situation to put a good swing on it and have success.”
K-State took the lead after a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Dylan Caplinger, in which sophomore outfielder Blake Burrows rounded the bases on a wild throw to first. K-State held the Broncos at bay with a scoreless ninth by Eckberg.
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Carson Seymour (0-1) will start game two for the Wildcats. Sophomore right-hander Brady Miller (0-0) is set to start for the Broncos. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. and is available on ESPN+ and KMAN radio.