The Kansas State baseball team brought 20 batters to the plate in the first inning of their 16-4 run-rule win in the first game of a three-game weekend series against Texas Southern.
Those 20 batters provided 15 runs on nine hits including a grand slam from senior designated hitter Chris Ceballos. The Wildcats knocked out the Tigers’ starting pitcher Kam Fields after just two-thirds of an inning.
“I was worried about the game because of the arm that we were facing. When those first four runs went up, I kinda relaxed a little bit, because I knew pitch counts were going to get driven up,” head coach Pete Hughes said. “I felt bad for the kid because that’s an elite baseball player at this level and he just threw an uncomfortable amount of pitches in the first inning.”
That first inning also featured a one-run double by sophomore Dylan Phillips and a two-run double by junior second baseman Kamron Willman. Junior first baseman Terrance Spurlin scored a pair on a single up the middle as well.
“I don’t remember the last time I [knocked the starter out in the first inning]. I don’t wanna ever do it again, but to be able to do that offensively, it sets the tone for the game, it sets the tone for the series,” Hughes said.
Freshman pitcher Connor McCullough started the game for K-State, throwing four innings and giving up three runs on eight hits and two errors. He still recorded the win to move to 4-2 on the year.
“Connor wasn’t very sharp tonight. I know what we’re going to get out of him,” Hughes said. “It’s challenging when you’ve got a 14-run lead, but the most challenging part of that is sitting for as long as he sat. He got warmed up, pitched the first inning, came back and essentially had to get warmed up again but didn’t have the opportunity.”
The Wildcats got one more in the second when Spurlin hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Phillips before the Wildcats started to work in their bench players.
“These kids who are coming in the game haven’t played a whole lot lately, but they work just as hard as everybody in the program every single day and they’re committed so I love seeing those guys get on the field and play,” Hughes said. “Great opportunity for guys who work and deserve to play every day and also a great opportunity for our program to keep growing.”
Texas Southern tacked on one in the first, one in the third, one in the fourth and one in the sixth. They also threatened to score in the seventh but were shut down before they could avoid the run-rule.
“Those guys had 12 hits, too,” Hughes said. “It’s not like you can run anyone out there and silence their offense.”
This was K-State’s third run-rule win of the season after beating Arkansas Pine-Bluff in that fashion in back-to-back games.
“Can’t look at the scoreboard, can’t look at anyone’s record. Respect the game, respect the opponent, but also understand the big picture that we have to get better than we are right now as a baseball team,” Hughes said.
That big picture involves two more games against the Tigers on Saturday and Sunday with sophomore lefty Jordan Wicks taking the mound Saturday and senior Kasey Ford on the bump Sunday afternoon.