The Kansas State baseball team (27-16, 6-9) rounded out a 12-game homestand with a series sweep over Texas Southern. The Wildcats went 10-2 in the home stretch at Tointon Family Stadium — which included a 16-1, seven-inning run-rule win on Sunday.
Head coach Pete Hughes said he was impressed with his team on the weekend and emphasized how important the 12-game stretch will is in Big 12 Conference play.
“It was a really good weekend,” Hughes said. “End of an important stretch in our program’s schedule with a 12-game homestand. It was important to take advantage of playing at home and getting back into the thick of things in the Big 12 standings.”
The power was on full display in the series as K-State belted nine home runs in the three games, ultimately led by senior catcher Chris Ceballos. Ceballos homered in four straight games and collected ten RBIs on the weekend.
“[We’re] extremely confident,” Ceballos said. “This weekend, I think we scored about 16 runs a game. I think that really helps us going into this back end of Big 12, and I think that’s going to help us go forward and keep the offense rolling.”
A 15-run first inning highlighted a 16-4 seven-inning opening game on Friday. The Wildcats brought 20 players to the plate, which included a grand slam by Ceballos.
Redshirt freshman Connor McCullough (4-2) gave up three runs, one unearned, in four innings with four strikeouts.
The longball played a factor again in a 15-6 win where K-State belted five home runs on Saturday.
“We had production from one through nine,” Hughes said. “Everyone got involved and had some big hits from the middle of the order. Got Cam Thompson going. Ceballos continues to stay hot. We need those guys to stay at a good place.”
Senior infielder Cameron Thompson led the charge with two homers on the afternoon. Ceballos belted his third home run in three games, but sophomore infielder Daniel Carinci led the offense with four RBIs in the afternoon.
Redshirt sophomore Jordan Wicks struck out eight in five innings of work, giving up one run off three hits.
“[Wicks] was awesome,” Hughes said. “He commanded all four pitches today. No walks, eight strikeouts and three hits. That’s as dominant as it gets.”
K-State provided run support early with a 9-0 lead in the opening three innings, including a five-run second frame.
The largest inning in the series for the Tigers came in the sixth, sparked by a bases-loaded wild pitch. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Dean Salazar brought in a run with a fielder’s choice, and senior infielder Nic Garza capped off the inning with a two-run single.
Carinci’s two-run home run in the seventh inning highlighted a combined five runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Wildcats extended its six-game winning streak with a 16-1 run rule rout in the series finale on Sunday led by senior outfielder Chad Shade who belted his first home run as a Wildcat — he notched four RBIs.
Senior pitcher Kasey Ford allowed one run with five strikeouts in five innings of work. The lone mistake for Ford came in the fifth inning with a leadoff double that would come around to score, but the Wildcats provided plenty of run support.
“I felt good today,” Ford said. “It’s always nice to be able to go out there and no matter what, pitch to contact because you know your defense is going to play behind you and knowing that I’m going to get run support throughout the game.”
The Arkansas native has had an impressive 2021 season and entered the weekend with the tenth best ERA at 1.56 in 12 appearances.
K-State opened the scoring in the second inning with a solo home run by junior outfielder Zach Kokoska. Ceballos sparked a nine-run fourth inning for the Wildcats.
Carinci knocked in pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but Shade highlighted the later innings with a three-run home run.
K-State relievers kept the Tigers hitless with a combined five strikeouts to wrap up the series.
The Wildcats will face Baylor in Waco, Texas, next weekend in the team’s first road game since April 11. Wicks is the probable starter for game one for K-State. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday and will be available on ESPN+ and KMAN radio.