Red Raider offense too much for Wildcat bullpen

Freshman Kaelen Culpepper during the game against Creighton on April 5, 2022. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball led No. 4 Texas Tech 3-1 in the sixth inning, then Griffin Hassall left the game. The junior out of Ontario, Canada, wasn’t throwing overpowering stuff but methodically quieted the Red Raiders in 5.1 innings pitched.

“That was our plan coming into the game,” head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “We gave them a different look, two completely different and contrasting styles [of pitchers]. It’s the right move, it didn’t work. I’ll do it again. I feel bad for Griff because he pitched well enough to win. All you can do is draw up a plan and hope it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s baseball.”

Hassall finished the night with 67 pitches, only allowing one run on a home run to left field. His final stat line included just three hits, one walk and one strikeout.

Red Raider pitcher Andrew Morris, however, struck out seven of K-State’s first nine batters through the first third of the game. He set the tone by striking out lead-off hitter Dom Johnson, looking on three pitches, and never looked back: finishing with nine strikeouts.

It wasn’t until the fourth inning when Morris ran into some traffic on a Dom Johnson infield single. The Johnson check-swing single was similar to a well-placed bunt and was ruled a hit.

“I thought we did a decent job offensively,” Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “We did leave some runs out there early on. I think we took too much time getting adjusted to Morris’ style. We gave away a run late and didn’t damage control our inning. I always say in this league, ‘You have to damage control innings, and if you don’t, you get beat.’ That’s what happened today.”

The Wildcats didn’t score their first run until the sixth inning when K-State took its only lead of the contest. Nick Goodwin scored the opening run on an RBI sac-fly to left field with two outs.

Then, first baseman Josh Nicoloff poked a two-RBI double to give the Wildcats their first lead. Everything seemed to be going right until the big inning blow-up that has hurt K-State in three previous Big 12 match-ups came back to bite them again.

After Hassall retired star Red Raider star Jace Jung for the third time of the night, Blake Adams made his third appearance from the bullpen. The Wildcats hoped it would be a sequel of his close against No. 6 Oklahoma State in this past Sunday’s win, but they were wrong.

Instead, Adams’ outing was similar to his first outing out of the pen, where he couldn’t control his pitches. The difference between this Saturday and last Saturday’s affair was that Texas Tech earned its runs, whereas Oklahoma State benefitted from walks in the first game of that series.

The sequence of events went like this: Texas Tech’s Ty Coleman singled, then Adams surrendered another single, a wild pitch and a walk. The bases were loaded with zero outs.

That’s when Owen Washburn cranked a bases-clearing 3-RBI double to right-center field. It put the Red Raiders ahead 4-3, which would only increase by two more runs.

A couple of errors from third baseman Kaelen Culpepper helped ice the game, making it 6-3. As a result, No. 4 Texas Tech snapped a three-game losing skid to raise its record to 25-8 and 5-2 in conference play.