Wildcat baseball earns first win in convincing fashion

The K-State baseball team plays against each other in the annual Fall World Series on Nov. 7, 2021. (Archive photo by Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball got off to a rough 0-5 start to the 2022 campaign, but that’s passed them now. K-State broke its losing streak in the final game of a three-game series at CSU Bakersfield by winning in convincing fashion, 8-2.

Before the Wildcat dominance, the win got off to a disastrous start when Oklahoma-transfer Christian Ruebeck walked the first four batters of the game, throwing eight balls before finding the strike zone.

Then, previous-closer Blake Corsentino came in relief and saved the day. After giving up Ruebeck’s second earned run on a sacrifice fly to center field, Corsentino threw an efficient game.

He finished with 7.2 innings of work, allowing zero runs on five hits, one walk and two strikeouts — one looking. By then, the game was all but decided.

“There’s a reason why I called his name,” K-State baseball head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “That was not a good situation, but we needed him to pick up the team and a teammate, and he did that.”

K-State provided plenty of run support for Corsentino, something Hughes said they’ve been struggling with throughout the losing streak, and it was no different in Saturday’s loss.

“It’s either we can’t support the starting pitching with our bullpen, or we can’t support the starting pitching with our bats,” Hughes said. “We’ve just got to keep at it. I say it all the time, but it’s disheartening when you waste a good start.”

Connor McCullough pitched six innings and allowed two runs on unlucky bloopers that fell in front of Wildcat outfielders but rung up seven Roadrunner batters.

Going into Saturday’s match-up, K-State struggled to hit with runners in scoring position and it was no different in game two. K-State went 1-for-5 in the match-up yesterday, with the top of the lineup going a combined 0-for-11.

However, it was different in Sunday’s victory. The Wildcats found momentum in the third inning and floored the gas pedal until the Roadrunners drowned in run differential.

The first of K-State’s runs scored in the third inning followed a Nick Goodwin single, building off his two-hit performance Saturday night. Shortly after, Goodwin moved to third base in a threatening first and third situation.

Then, preseason All-American Dylan Phillips ripped his first home run of the season to right field, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 advantage over the Roadrunners — his 32nd all-time and tied for fourth in K-State history.

“Sometimes it just takes a little bit of barrel contact to get people going and teams going,” Hughes said. “We were waiting for him to do that. The three-run homer takes a lot of pressure off everybody, pitchers included and the defense included.”

The record didn’t last long. Dominic Johnson knocked an RBI single to right field, and Phillips pimped another long-ball to right field for his 33rd all-time.

The moonshot moved Phillips into third all-time (33), needing just five homers to pass Scott Poepard (1994-97, 37 home runs) for the title of the all-time home run king at K-State.

Later, Wildcat outfielder Cole Johnson found his groove with a shot off the center-field wall, skidding back towards the infield past the centerfielder for an RBI triple. However, it didn’t stop there.

Dominic Johnson cashed in a seventh run off Justin Mitchell’s scorched double down the left-field line, rewarding Johnson for his lead-off double.

Finally, redshirt-freshman Brady Day escaped home on a wild pitch to put whipped topping on a sweet victory to end K-State’s five-game losing skid.

The Wildcats look to advance their winning streak to two games against a storied Cal State Fullerton program at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, airing on ESPN+.