UC Irvine dominates in blowout victory over Kansas State

Senior Josh Nicoloff runs toward second base during the April 14, 2022 game against Texas at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Victories in their past three games and five of their previous six meant the Wildcats were on a hot streak entering Saturday’s game. However, the Wildcats fell behind early and dropped their second contest of a three-game series to the UC Irvine Anteaters 16-7.

The two teams combined to hit nine homers in the game on a day when the wind was blowing straight out. The Anteaters got two homers each from Ben Fitzgerald and Thomas McCaffrey. Each man drove in six runs and accounted for over 70 percent of their team’s offense on Saturday.

“It was a tough day,” Kansas State head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “We were playing from behind from the get-go and even with the conditions being optimal for a comeback, we didn’t put zeroes on the scoreboard.”

Starting Wildcat pitcher Connor McCullough, who wasn’t feeling great according to Hughes, struggled for the first time all season as he was roughed up for eight runs in just two innings of work.

“He’s a tough kid,” Hughes said. “A lot of pitchers would’ve asked out of that ballgame early, but he didn’t. He went out there and tried his best, and I appreciate that. I know he would never make that his excuse, but that’s the truth.”

On the bright side, K-State’s offense continued swinging the bats well, hitting four homers on Saturday and putting seven runs on the scoreboard.

The Wildcats got homers from Nick Goodwin, Justin Mitchell, Jeff Heinrich and Raphael Pelletier. Brendan Jones also drove in two runs with a pinch-hit single in the seventh, the first two RBIs of his career.

Jeff Heinrich produced three hits and Josh Nicoloff had two hits as well.

The loss drops K-State’s record to 20-18 on the season. Sunday’s game will be the rubber match of the series against UC Irvine. Stay tuned to the Collegian for coverage of the men’s baseball team all season long.