Walks outweigh Wildcat baseball’s late rally on historic night

Junior Dylan Phillips swings during the March 29, 2022 game against the University of Central Colorado at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball (13-12, 0-4) scored four runs in the sixth inning and three runs in the seventh to cut a 12-2 deficit to three. The Wildcats put themselves in a great position to win against No. 6 Oklahoma State (19-7, 4-0), but mid-game pitching woes were too much to overcome.

“The end result is really the only thing that matters to me,” K-State head coach Pete Hughes said. “You got competitive kids and competitive people here — they’re gonna fight back, and I wasn’t surprised that we had a chance to really tie that thing up and win the game cause that’s who we are. But unfortunately, we’re chasing, and you give up a ten-spot in the middle innings — that’s really a lot to overcome. We almost did it, and that’s nice, but when you got ten walks and three errors, that’s a lot of unnecessary traffic to make up for.”

K-State’s rally was partially sparked by Ben Weber’s scoreless pitching to close the last three innings. The appearance was Weber’s first of the season since transferring from former Big 12 foe Nebraska.

The 7-9 shutout innings featured three strikeouts and just one walk, excluding a Cowboy hit. That’s compared to nine walks by Blake Corsentino (one), Blake Adams (four) and Ty Ruhl (four) collectively through the first six innings.

“Ben Weber, who hasn’t pitched all year, has been waiting for his opportunity … made the best of his opportunity and did a great job [and] allowed us to get back in that thing,” Hughes said.

Unexpected starter RHP Blake Corsentino went toe-to-toe with OSU’s high-rated Major League Baseball prospect Justin Campbell before exiting after 4.2 innings.

Corsentino left two runners on base in a 2-2 game, but Blake Adams, the usual Friday starter, surrendered two additional runs to Corsentino’s stats to give the Cowboys a 4-2 lead. The first came on an error by shortstop Nick Goodwin.

Perhaps the error by Nick Goodwin or his first bullpen appearance rattled the Arkansas transfer, because Adams walked the next four batters, three unearned RBIs. Seven consecutive runs between the fifth and sixth innings were all without a hit, and all four of the five-inning runs (Adams 2, Corsentino 2) scored were all unearned.

However, the Wildcats’ explosive offense breathed life into the game, sparked by a single to left field by Nick Goodwin and a 2-run home run by Jeff Heinrich. Then, the now co-home run leader in K-State history Dylan Phillips walked, and Cash Rugely smoked a ball over the left-field wall to bring the game to a six-run deficit.

The four-run sixth inning tallied the most ever given up by star Oklahoma State pitcher Justin Campbell, and raised his season earned run average from 2.11 to 3.05. K-State’s six runs in six innings are the most Campbell’s allowed all season.

“We got in their bullpen,” Hughes said. “After the fifth inning, that was not gonna be the way the game was going, so to be able to get [Roman] Phansalkar in there and Trevor Martin in there really gives us a better outlook for the series by getting into their bullpen Friday night.”

Phillips was also part of the three-run seventh inning, recording an RBI-walk to get things rolling. Shortly after, Orlando Salinas Jr. knocked a 2-RBI single to left field in his first at-bat of the game and first against his former squad from Stillwater.

“I always tell our guys never look at the scoreboard, so when you’re down a bunch or when you’re up a bunch, it just never changes the way you approach your at-bats, and we got some really good hitters too,” Hughes said. “The conditions were offensive, but I love our lineup, I really do. Those guys go about their business, they’re gonna get their hits and no matter what the score is, that’s kind of what the mentality was like tonight.

All-American Dylan Phillips tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning with a drifting home run on a windy midwestern evening. The homer charged the fans and left everyone standing or recording, waiting for the all-time K-State home run record to be broken.

Unfortunately, Phillips didn’t break the record, but still went 2-for-3 with four runs, a leadoff double, a home run, two walks and two RBIs. Fans that know him as “Whammer” won’t miss upcoming home games for a chance to make history.

K-State continues its series against No. 6 Oklahoma State at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium, seeking its first Big 12 victory. Tickets are available at K-State Sports, and viewing is on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.