Wildcat baseball evens out series against Jayhawks

Junior Griffin Hassall pitches the ball against Kansas on May 6, 2022. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Following a disappointing loss in the opening game of the Sunflower Showdown, the Kansas State Wildcats bounced back on Saturday, defeating in-state rival Kansas 5-2.

“It’s been one of our goals from the beginning of the season to beat KU,” head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics.

The Wildcats jumped on Jayhawks’ starter Cole Larsen right away with a leadoff Dom Johnson home run over the left-center field wall. Two doubles, two walks and an error later, the Wildcats had a 3-0 lead and didn’t look back.

“Important, critical bounce-back day for us,” Hughes said. “We had to set the tone early, and Dom Johnson did that right away.”

The win was just the third time in the Pete Hughes era that K-State defeated the Jayhawks.

Blake Adams led the charge for K-State from the mound, securing his fifth victory of the season. He went 6.1 innings on the bump, striking out eight batters in the process.

“It helps the mindset when you’re going out there with the lead,” Adams said to K-State Athletics. “I was able to throw some risky pitches in some certain situations and it helped me today.”

German Fajardo followed Adams’ solid performance, recording the final eight outs to pick up his second save of the season. Fajardo has not allowed an earned run in his last 11.1 innings pitched.

Dom Johnson continued carrying the Wildcats from the top of the offensive order, going deep twice in the game — the second time he’s done that this season. Johnson batted 3-5 on the afternoon, including two RBIs and scoring on hits from Dylan Phillips and Jeff Heinrich, accounting for four of K-State’s five runs.

“I was juiced up after I hit my first homer,” Johnson said to K-State Athletics. “I was like, ‘Wow, I never hit a leadoff homer in my life.’ Once I was able to hit that, we just got rolling and scored three in that inning.”

Kaelen Culpepper also went deep in the game, being the lone run that Dom Johnson didn’t play a part in. The solo shot to left was his third of the season and his first homer since March 26 against TCU.

The Wildcat victory slingshots K-State back ahead of KU in the Big 12 standings for eighth place, as KU has four conference wins to K-State’s five.

The Sunflower Showdown wraps up at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium. Tickets are available at K-State Sports, and viewing is on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.