K-State eliminates Texas Tech to advance in Big 12 Championship tournament

Junior Tyler Eckberg pitches during the May 1, 2021 game against Texas Southern at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

In another win against a top-five team, Kansas State put up seven runs on five hits while only allowing Texas Tech one run to score in the fourth inning.

“We’re in the survive and advance mode,” head coach Pete Hughes said in a press release after the win. “We have to be really focused on the task at hand because there is no tomorrow.”

K-State has recorded five wins over top-five ranked teams this season.

“I’m proud of our guys for seizing momentum and making a big inning and sustaining a lead,” Hughes said. “That’s a really good team [Texas Tech], there were talks of them being a top-eight national seed. I’m excited because, at some point, Kansas State baseball has to be in the conversation for the national tournament … We’re getting this deep into the second strongest tournament in the country and our name has to be mentioned in the national tournament conversation.”

Senior third baseman Cam Thompson agreed with Hughes’ comments.

“I totally agree,” Thompson said. “I think we deserve a chance, and I think that if we keep winning, I just don’t see why not.”

Thompson contributed to K-State’s win with two hits, one home run and bringing in four RBI’s.

“It’s not really something that I’ve changed in my swing,” Thompson said about his production at the plate. “I just … put it together, and it just so happened to come all together this year. Nothing has changed, I just kept my same swing and it’s just working out.”

Relief pitcher Tyler Eckberg also responded to Hughes’ comments about the possibility of making the national tournament.

“We beat a lot of really good teams,” Eckberg said. “We’ve beaten Texas Tech three times now and they’re in the hosting conversation for the national tournament.”

Eckberg came into the game to relieve starting pitcher Kasey Ford after 3.2 innings. He stayed in the game until the bottom of the ninth inning, with Eric Torres coming in to finish the game for the Wildcats.

“To come in in earlier innings like that — it’s all about shutting down momentum,” Eckberg said. “Just get out of the inning as quick as possible and get the bats going again, and then just carry the moment through the rest of the game.”

Eckberg received the win for the game, finishing with five innings pitched, six strikeouts, two hits and an ERA of 2.63. His record is now 5-5 on this season.

K-State plays TCU for the second time in the tournament at 9 a.m on Saturday. If K-State wins, they will face TCU once more later in the day to determine who will move on to the next round of the tournament.

Coverage broadcasts will be provided by the Big 12 Now, ESPN+ and the K-State Sports Network.