Baseball drops finale to Texas, takes series victory

Kaelen Culpepper trots off the field against Texas on April 14, 2022. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Following a come from behind victory on Thursday and a complete team victory on Friday, Kansas State baseball entered Saturday afternoon with the opportunity to sweep the Texas Longhorns for the first time in school history. That was not to be, as the Wildcats fell 4-2.

Even with a solid pitching effort from Connor McCullough, Blake Corsentino and Ty Ruhl, the K-State bats couldn’t get going, only mustering up five hits and two runs in the ballgame.

The Wildcats were shut down by Lucas Gordon, Luke Harrison and Aaron Nixon. Gordon went five innings and allowed just two runs while striking out seven, and Nixon recorded his fourth save of the year by recording the final eight outs.

Catcher Justin Mitchell drove in the Wildcats’ lone runs of the game with a sac fly in the second and an RBI groundout in the fourth.

Offensively, Texas was led by Austin Todd, who went 3-5. Dylan Campbell, Mitchell Daly and Murphy Stehly all drove in runs for the Longhorns.

“We gave up a lot of cheap contact,” head coach Pete Hughes said. “There’s not much you can do if they beat you on a hard-hit double off the wall. But when they pick up runs on really cheap hits, it’s frustrating.”

What stung even more for the Wildcats was the loss of Kaelen Culpepper and Nick Goodwin to ejection in the fifth inning. After K-State’s Dom Johnson slid hard into second base on a delayed ball-four call, an argument occurred between Johnson and Longhorns second baseman Mitchell Daly.

As tempers rose, Goodwin and Culpepper were ejected because they left the bench. Because of that infringement, the two are suspended for Monday’s game against Wichita State.

“There’s not much you can do about it,” K-State’s Dylan Phillips said. “We’re going to be without a couple of guys for a few days, but we have a deep team to where we can fill those holes easily.”

Even with the loss to Texas, the Wildcats are still confident after winning the series. With a big stretch of games coming up this week against a tough Wichita State team, a good Omaha team and three against another good team in UC Irvine, the Wildcats will have to play their best baseball.

“These guys love to play baseball,” Hughes said. “Nothing proves this more when you have a big stretch of games coming up.”

Phillips mentioned how tough a place Wichita State is to play.

“All I know is that it is usually 35 degrees,” Phillips said, laughing. “We just have to go out and play our best ball for nine innings.”

K-State will begin its five games in seven days stretch at 6 p.m. on Monday before returning home to play Omaha at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.