The Kansas State baseball team never showed up on offense in a 17-1 loss to No. 3 Texas Tech to open up the three-game series with the Red Raiders in Manhattan.
“Baseball’s different than any other game, you’re playing three or four days in a row, so you better be able to bounce back quick,” manager Pete Hughes said. “Our guys are fine, we’ve got good leadership in that clubhouse.”
Sophomore Jordan Wicks recorded seven strikeouts in the first three-and-two-thirds innings of the game before the Red Raiders got to him.
“I thought he was unbelievable those first two innings. He put a lot of momentum in our dugout and it’s not like we didn’t capitalize on it,” Hughes said. “We had some loud, hard outs. If it goes six feet this way, six feet that way, maybe it’s a different story.”
The Red Raiders tagged Wicks with back-to-back home runs in the third and then scored three runs on four hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly in the fourth to jump on K-State 5-0. He recorded the loss on the night with five runs on nine hits and eight strikeouts.
“He left a couple pitches up and these guys are as good an offensive team as you’re gonna find in college baseball. They’re gonna hit mistakes from our best guy to our worst guy,” Hughes said.
For its part, the Wildcat offense let Red Raider starter Brandon Birdsell set them down in order for three innings before senior catcher Chris Ceballos broke up the no-hitter with a single.
Junior right fielder Zach Kokoska got K-State on the board in the fifth with a lead-off solo home run. The Wildcats brought five batters to the plate after him in the inning but failed to get anyone past second base.
“We get a double, we get one of those line drives isn’t at somebody, it’s a 5-2, 5-3 game after five. That’s certainly manageable,” Hughes said.
Texas Tech closed the door on K-State with an eight-run seventh. Back-to-back-to-back home runs off junior reliever Jaxon Passino forced Hughes to go back to his bullpen, but bringing in freshman Brett Wozniak did not stop the bleeding.
The Red Raiders plated five more in that fateful inning off a pair of walks, a double and a throwing error on the shortstop before Wozniak gloved a come-backer and take it to first to end the inning.
“We made some bad pitches and the momentum kind of stayed in their dugout,” Hughes said. “That’s why we play a three-game series. At some point, you gotta move on to game two and sometimes that happens on a Friday night.”
Texas Tech’s Jace Jung hit two home runs in that seventh inning, part of a three-dinger night for the second baseman.
Texas Tech strung hits and walks together to record another four in the top of the ninth to put K-State — who never threatened on offense down the stretch — away.
“You’ve got to cut your losses at some point in that game. You gotta save some bullpen arms that are going to help you win a series,” Hughes said. “I was disappointed with some of the guys that we threw out of the bullpen that needed to damage control the game.”
K-State finished the game with two hits and three errors while giving up 16 hits and benefiting from two errors.
“Any time you make more errors than hits. I’ve never been in a game where that’s had a winning outcome,” Hughes said.
K-State will get two more shots at the highly-rated Red Raiders this weekend. On Friday, sophomore Carson Seymour (1-2) takes the bump against Patrick Monteverde (5-0).