PREVIEW: Baseball hosts West Virginia in weekend series

First baseman Dylan Phillips homered to right center and the Wildcat's bench celebrates. Kansas State baseball capped off the weekend by defeating Oklahoma 8-3 at Tointon Family Stadium. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State baseball team (21-15) hosts West Virginia (14-16) in a three-game series at Tointon Family Stadium this weekend.

The Mountaineers are coming off a 2-1 series loss to Texas Tech last weekend and — like the Wildcats — did not play a midweek series this past week.

The first game of the series starts at 6 p.m. Friday. It will likely pit sophomore southpaw Jordan Wicks (4-2) against senior southpaw Jackson Wolf (3-4).

Wolf managed to keep his ERA sub-3.00 through his first six starts before he gave up five earned runs in a loss to Baylor and then four in a loss to Texas Tech last week. He is a high-strikeout pitcher and has only given up one home run this season. Opponents bat just .201 against him.

Game two on Saturday afternoon will probably see yet another left-handed starter in junior Adam Tulloch (0-3) on the bump for the Mountaineers. Right-handed sophomore Carson Seymour (2-4) is the likely starter for the Wildcats.

Of late, Tulloch’s games have become bullpen games with him only going an average of four innings per game. His ERA is a jump from Wolf’s relatively-low ERA to 6.67. He did manage to record the win over No. 7 Texas Tech with a four-inning, one-run performance.

Freshman lefty Ben Hampton (3-1) holds down the Sunday starting duties lately for West Virginia. He will likely face freshman starter Connor McCullough (4-5) in the 1 p.m. start.

Hampton stumbled out of the gates in his last couple of starts and ballooned his once-formidable ERA to 3.81. The Mountaineers haven’t allowed him more than roughly 75 pitches in a game, meaning that the Wildcats can get to the bullpen quickly if it has long at bats early.

The Mountaineer bats are not overwhelmingly powerful. The team has hit only 29 home runs and bat just .251.

Fifth-year senior left fielder Hudson Byorick is perhaps the Mountaineer’s most reliable bat with a solid .310/.420/.512 slash line.

In terms of power, sophomore first baseman Matt McCormick and fifth-year third baseman Kevin Brophy each have six home runs. Freshman shortstop Mikey Kluska leads the team with 21 RBIs.

K-State will look to extend its hot streak against a fellow middling Big 12 Conference team. K-State won four if its last five games including two of three against Oklahoma after starting conference play against three of the conference’s top four teams.

Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, a graduate student from Olathe, Kansas, working on a Masters in Mass Communication. I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. This is my fourth year covering K-State sports for the Collegian.