Baseball opens fall exhibition play with victory over Omaha

Junior Cole Johnson hits helmets with junior Dylan Phillips after belting a home run out of the ballpark in K-State's 11-5 victory over Omaha on Friday evening. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State baseball team opened up its fall 2021 exhibition slate on Friday evening, taking on a familiar team from over the past decade — the Omaha Mavericks. Through nine innings, the Wildcats had a 10-2 lead over Omaha, and with extra innings accommodated for the exhibition game, the Wildcats finished with an 11-5 victory over the Mavericks.

K-State got the scoring going early in the second inning when junior outfielder Cole Johnson hit a towering solo home run over the left-field wall. Later in the inning, the Wildcats scored sophomore infielder Nick Goodwin on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Following the two-run inning, the Mavericks had an opportunity for extra bases until junior outfielder Dylan Phillips left his feet to snag the ball in a fantastic diving catch, keeping Omaha at bay.

The Wildcats scored another pair of runs in the fourth inning to increase the lead to 4-0. Dylan Phillips singled to right field and scored Justin Mitchell and Dominic Johnson, both reaching on singles.

In the fifth inning, the Wildcats brought in sophomore right-handed pitcher German Fajardo in relief for starter Ben Weber. Fajardo allowed one walk on a controversial ball-four call, struck two batters out — one looking on three pitches — and gave up an RBI single.

Continuing the scoring in the sixth inning, senior Josh Nicoloff blew the game open by scoring Phillips and Nick Goodwin on a three-run home run to left field, putting K-State up 7-1.

In the seventh K-State fans witnessed a new face-making noise as redshirt freshman Brady Day doubled down the right-field line. Day went on to score on an RBI single, making the game 8-1 in favor of K-State.

There was a scare when redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Christian Ruebeck was hit by a line drive in the eighth inning. Ruebeck went on to record an out at first base, but the Mavericks scored their second run 8-2 on the play.

Ruebeck was seen limping after the play, but completed some practice pitches and finished the inning.

Despite allowing a run the inning before, K-State returned the favor by scoring two runs on an RBI single by junior Cash Rugely in the bottom half of the inning. The runs made the score 10-2, which held through nine innings of play.

Because it was an exhibition, the typical nine-inning game wasn’t upheld, going on for longer than a usual match-up. An opposite-field home run by freshman Kaelen Culpepper and a few runs by Omaha put the final score at 11-5 after the extra innings.

K-State continues exhibition play at 2:30 p.m. this coming Friday, Oct. 22, against Crowder College at Tointon Family Stadium.