The Kansas State baseball team (17-11) recorded their second run-rule win in a row on Wednesday afternoon, this time defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-19) 12-0 in six-and-a-half innings. Last night, the Wildcats won 12-2 in eight innings.
Junior Zak Herbers pitched three innings for K-State, striking out six and giving up just two hits to record the win. Sophomore Dylan Phillips started the game for K-State going one inning with two strikeouts.
“A lot of strikes and guys pounding the zone,” head coach Pete Hughes said. “We need Zak Herbers to be good. I thought Zak did a really good job tonight. [Brett] Wozniak did a really good job, two strikeouts and no walks. We need those guys on the weekends.”
Hughes also got a chance to work out freshman Elijah Dale — who is listed as an infielder only — on the mound.
“Eli’s arm across the diamond is different. It just jumps out of his hand,” Hughes said. “You wanna always look at somebody on the mound with arm strength … He has a chance to be really good and he’s athletic enough to command the zone … That’s one of the most promising things from tonight’s game.”
The Wildcats scored three in the first after a home run by senior third baseman Cam Thompson and a two-RBI single from junior shortstop Terrence Spurlin.
K-State plated three more in the second when freshman Nick Goodwin had an RBI groundout to the first baseman and a ground ball rolled under the second baseman’s glove to score Phillips and Thompson.
In the third, K-State pounced on a line drive that bounced off the shortstop to lead off the inning. A Thompson double scored junior catcher Dylan Caplinger. Two more singles scored two more runs for K-State in the inning.
“This game will beat you down,” Hughes said. “[Thompson] just had some hard luck at the beginning — that first weekend — he was on the barrel and didn’t get paid for it. A lot of hard outs. Good for him to always have the team first and stay in the right frame of mind to allow him to get out of it.”
Thompson was 4-for-4 with a home run, a double and two singles. He scored each of the times he stepped to the plate and had two RBIs.
The Wildcats had one more three-spot in them when freshman shortstop Nick Goodwin hit a base-clearing triple to score two runs. Goodwin came home on a groundout to second base by junior right fielder Zach Kokoska.
“We built some innings. We hit mistakes up and down the lineup,” Hughes said. “Everyone contributed … That’s great for your depth heading into the weekend and it gets everyone feeling good.”
Pine Bluff showed little life on offense, striking out 12 times and only recording five hits. They did threaten in the top of the seventh and final inning.
A hit batsman, single and a walk by sophomore reliever Gavin Hinchliffe loaded the bases with two outs for the Golden Lions, but Hinchliffe forced a pop-up to the second baseman to preserve the shutout.
“That’s who they are mentally. These guys are tough, they can handle the ups and downs,” Hughes said. “Doesn’t matter who we’re playing against or what day of the week it is, if the scoreboard is on, they’re trying to beat somebody.”
K-State will head to Austin, Texas, this weekend to play the No. 4 ranked Texas Longhorns in a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series. Sophomore Jordan Wicks will likely take the mound for K-State Friday night.