Kansas State baseball traveled to Arlington, Texas, for the 2022 State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field Feb. 18-20. After losing against No. 15 Arizona 8-6 in a game that went down to the wire on Feb. 18, K-State got blown out by the Michigan Wolverines 10-2 on Saturday, Feb. 19 and the Auburn Tigers 12-1 on Sunday, Feb. 20.
“You expect to make first-weekend mistakes, but you can’t have first-weekend overall performance excuses over everywhere,” K-State head baseball coach Pete Hughes said. “We probably played ten good innings of baseball, which isn’t gonna cut it.”
K-State’s struggles primarily came from pitchers missing spots and the inability to score. Even when the Wildcats’ early hitters reached base, K-State had difficulty scratching runners across the plate, only scoring one run in the first inning and tallying three hits throughout the match-up against Auburn.
In their loss against Auburn, the Wildcats allowed 12 runs on 13 hits, eight walks, seven hit batters — two of which were bases loaded RBIs — and granted a steal home.
Initially announced as starting pitcher, Christian Ruebeck relieved freshman starting pitcher Collin Rothermel after 1.2 innings and one earned run. Following a strikeout to start, Ruebeck failed to find any momentum.
Ruebeck’s outing resulted in three innings, surrendering ten earned runs on six hits, four walks, two hit batters and a stolen base at home by Auburn’s Josh Hall. The steal home occurred after Ruebeck pitched from the wind-up in three bases-loaded situations, paying no mind to runners at third.
“I was disappointed for Ruebeck,” Hughes said. “He’s better than that, and he’s going to be a really good pitcher for us this year.”
At the 5.1 inning mark, relief pitcher Elijah Dale made an appearance, where he allowed two of Ruebeck’s runs by hitting batters with high fastballs.
K-State made three more pitching changes: Tyler Ruhl subbing in for Dale, Dillon Pearson subbing for Ruhl and Blake Corsentino closing the top of the ninth by striking out the side.
“Ty Ruhl got a great opportunity to come in and bump his way up to the depth chart: everyone is getting evaluated in our program no matter what the score is or what day of the week it is,” Hughes said. “Blake Corsentino came in and proved that he can compete and throw strikes.”
Many of the Wildcat’s struggles came from lacking confidence as K-State’s roster features 25 newcomers — 13 freshmen, four junior-college and eight Division I transfers.
“They’re young or inexperienced,” Hughes said. “We got some older guys … this is the first time they’ve been in the fray. There’s only one way to get a guy comfortable: it’s you keep running them back out there and keep playing in that situation.”
K-State has three days before beginning a seven-game road trip to California, where the Wildcats will play a series against the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners Feb. 25-27, a game against Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, March 1 and a series at Loyola Marymount March 4-6.
“We got to correct some stuff, then get on a plane and become a good road team, and become a good baseball team,” Hughes said. “We’ll have ten days to do that.”
All three games against CSU Bakersfield are available for viewing on ESPN+, with the first pitch against the Roadrunners set for 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25.