Ceballos leads offense in 13-8 rout of Missouri

Sophomore Blake Burrows stretches out to reach first base before a Missouri player attempts to catch the ball during the April 27, 2021, game against Missouri at Tointon Family Stadium. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Senior catcher Chris Ceballos led an offensive explosion for Kansas State (24-16, 6-9) in a 13-8 win over former Big 12 Conference foe Missouri on Tuesday night. Ceballos went 3-4 at the plate and collected five RBIs, which passed his previous career-high. The Wildcats won 13-8.

Ceballos jumped from a .198 average to .219, a 21 point jump in four at-bats. He said he could feel it coming because of recent practices.

“I felt good in practice,” Ceballos said. “I’ve been sticking with what I’ve been doing. I know the time would come where I’d be able to get a multi-hit game.”

Collectively the Wildcats finished with 14 hits with only five left on base and four batters with multi-RBI games. Head coach Pete Hughes praised his team after the win.

“Really good team win,” Hughes said. “Loved the offense. Set the tone right away with the five runs, and then I thought we played great with the lead. You always hear me say that you can tell a lot about a team when they’re five runs up or five runs down. That’s how you play when you’re five runs up.”

Starting sophomore pitcher Dylan Phillips (1-0) earned his first career win in two innings of scoreless ball with only one hit allowed and two strikeouts. Phillips also drove in the game’s opening run with an RBI double in the first.

“I love hitting when I’m pitching,” Phillips said. “I just get a clear head on both sides of it because you’re not thinking either one too much. It was nice to get the first run on the board and get the train rolling for us.”

K-State jumped out to an early lead with a five-hit, five-run first inning highlighted by a three-run home run by Ceballos. The five runs knocked Missouri junior pitcher Trae Robertson (0-3) out of the ballgame with only one strikeout.

Tigers catcher Tre Morris’ two-run single in the third inning opened up a four-run inning to minimize the K-State lead to 5-4 in an inning. K-State pitchers walked four in the inning, including one with the bases loaded, which sparked the comeback threat.

Back-to-back doubles by Ceballos and junior right fielder Zach Kokoska gave the Wildcats a response in the bottom of the third. Junior first baseman Terrence Spurlin rounded out the three-run inning with a two-run home run, his second home run in three games.

Ceballos notched his fourth and fifth RBIs of the night with a two-run double in the fourth to give the Wildcats a 10-4 lead.

The Tigers then added three in the sixth inning, which started with a lead-off walk by the seven-spot hitter. Senior outfielder Brandt Belk belted a double in the nine spot to threaten another comeback for Missouri. Back-to-back fielder’s choice RBIs pulled the Tigers within reach, with the Wildcats holding a 10-7 lead.

However, Phillips notched his second RBI of the night in the bottom half of the sixth inning to add an insurance run for K-State.

The Wildcats will wrap up a 12-game homestand with a weekend series against Texas Southern, the final non-conference opponent this season for K-State. Game one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and will be available on ESPN+ and News Radio KMAN.