Late homers lead Wildcat baseball to Sunflower Showdown victory

Sophomore Nick Goodwin up to bat during the game against Kansas on May 6, 2022. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State’s Nick Goodwin felt good about leading off in the bottom half of the seventh inning after already facing Kansas starter Ryan Vanderhei twice. This time he took him deep to left-center field to put the Wildcats up 4-3 in their 6-3 win against KU.

“Leading off the inning, coach [Pete Hughes] gave me the green light to swing early in the count,” Nick Goodwin said to K-State Athletics. “I was looking for a pitch out over the plate and on the second pitch, I got what I wanted.”

Kaelen Culpepper and Jeff Heinrich hit home runs as well. Culpepper has gone deep in back-to-back games, and Heinrich blasted a dinger for the second time in the series.

“From the beginning of the year, our goal was to beat KU,” head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “I was real proud of our guys this weekend. After losing on Friday, you bounce back with a big win on Saturday and grind out a win on Sunday. It was a rewarding weekend for our program and our guys.”

Hughes credited Ty Ruhl’s solid relief outing that led the Wildcats to victory. The redshirt freshman had a career-long outing, going 4.2 innings without surrendering a run and striking out four.

“He got the game ball,” Hughes said. “He picked up his teammate, Connor, who wasn’t feeling great. I put him into a big spot and he made some big pitches in some big situations.”

Ruhl entered into a 3-1 game in the fifth inning with a man at third and less than two outs. It didn’t faze him. Ruhl struck out third baseman Payton Allen and induced star shortstop Maui Ahuna into a groundout.

K-State fed off Ruhl’s strong effort by tying the game in the sixth on Dylan Phillips’ two-run double, and the homers by Goodwin and Culpepper in the seventh led them to victory.

Although Connor McCullough only surrendered three runs in his 4.1 inning performance, Ruhl earned the win. The win puts Ruhl’s win-loss record at 3-2 on the season.

K-State returns to Tointon Family Stadium for a three-game series at 6 p.m. on Friday against the Baylor Bears. Tickets are available at K-State Sports, while viewing is on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.