Wildcat baseball loses in extra innings, still seeking first win

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Dylan Phillips hits a double against Oklahoma. Kansas State beat the Sooners 8-3 at Tointon Family Stadium on April 18, 2021. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball began the 2022 campaign 0-3 against tough opponents in Arlington, Texas, at the 2022 State Farm College Baseball Showdown. The Wildcats hoped to turn their luck around during a seven-game road stretch in California but lost stunningly in the first of a three-game series at CSU Bakersfield.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, K-State shortstop Nick Goodwin fielded a chopper in front of him but sailed the ball too high and too left for first baseman Cash Rugely. The throwing error was enough for a Roadrunner batter to sneak by Rugely’s outstretched backward tag for a 3-4 walk-off victory.

“We played poorly enough to get beat plenty of times before that last play,” K-State head baseball coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “Offensively, we didn’t make any adjustments and felt like we wasted another really good start by Blake Adams.”

The Wildcats seemed in control of the tightly contested pitchers’ dual after a third-inning 390-foot line-drive homer to centerfield by catcher Justin Mitchell.

However, in the bottom of the fifth inning, two bloopers hit by CSU Bakersfield fell in front of K-State outfielders in right and left field, quickly putting runners at first and third with no outs. The threatening scenario placed starting pitcher Blake Adams in an almost impossible state to prevent runs from scoring, and a ground out to Nick Goodwin eventually tied the game at one apiece.

Adams managed to control the damage to just two runs that inning and the Wildcats scratched back a run during their next turn at the plate. Dominic Johnson scored on an RBI single by a struggling Dylan Phillips after Johnson’s lead-off double against the left-field wall.

The score remained equal well-after Blake Adams finished with a staggering 12 strikeouts — five looking — and only allowing four hits in 7.2 innings.

“He was able to throw his secondary stuff for strikes,” Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “He commanded that all night long: he was really good. He just threw a ton of strikes.”

K-State looked to secure a win after Orlando Salinas Jr. scorched an RBI double to left field, scoring Josh Nicoloff and putting the Wildcats ahead 3-2, but the joy didn’t last long.

Coach Hughes presented trust in freshman righty Tyson Neighbors by leaving him in the game for the ninth inning after escaping a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout in the eighth. The move ended up haunting K-State when Neighbors walked the tying run home to make it 3-3 to force extra-innings.

Redshirt-freshman Tyler Ruhl relieved Neighbors in a bases-loaded jam in the ninth and got out of it with two strikeouts. Ruhl was still tagged with the loss after allowing two hits and the unearned game-winning run.

“We didn’t make routine plays and were poor fundamentally,” Hughes said. “We’ll get it fixed.”

K-State searches for its first win of the season in the second of a three-game series tonight at 8:05 p.m. at CSU Bakersfield. The game is available for viewing on ESPN+/Big 12 Now.

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