Wildcat baseball drops final home opener against Baylor

Junior Dylan Phillips eyes the bases during the May 8, 2022 game against the University of Kansas at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

On a day full of graduation festivities in the Little Apple, Kansas State baseball hosted the Baylor Bears for its last home series of the season. The Wildcats struggled to get ahold of the ball in game one and lost 4-2.

Baylor starting pitcher Jake Jackson entered the game with an 8.93 earned run average, but didn’t pitch like it. The senior from Lake Forest, California, kept K-State hitters off-balance, mixing pitches affectively.

Jackson’s most effective pitch was a slider that ranged from 78-81 mph and had lots of movement. The pitch was responsible for all three strikeouts on the evening.

“He [Jackson] moved his slider around and did a good job when he was up in the count with it,” K-State head coach Pete Hughes said. “He threw it off the plate, he nibbled just enough to miss the barrel and threw his fastball effectively.”

K-State managed to collect nine hits in the game, four coming with two-outs. However, the Wildcats left ten runners on base and went 1-8 in scoring position.

The first Wildcat run was a towering solo homer to right field by all-American Dylan Phillips. The second run came in the eighth and was the lone score with runners in scoring position.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, K-State couldn’t cash in when it mattered most with bases loaded and two outs. Relief pitcher Matt Voelker got catcher Justin Mitchell to swing at a pitch out of the zone, ending the potential rally.

K-State starter Blake Adams went six innings and allowed four runs. A blend of Baylor’s small-ball and errors by Wildcat outfielders aided three of the four.

The big inning K-State couldn’t avoid came in the fifth, with Adams starting the inning with his fourth leadoff walk in his six innings pitched. That’s where the Bears racked up three runs on three RBIs and two errors.

“They got hits when their runners were in scoring position, and with two outs; two-out RBIs, and we didn’t,” Hughes said. “We had our opportunities. We left ten on base — they [Baylor] left nine, and it’s unfortunate because our bullpen gave us a chance to get back in that game.”

All three K-State relief pitchers left zeros on the scoreboard. Christian Ruebeck struck out one batter in 2.1 innings and Blake Corsentino closed with two strikeouts, while Wesley Moore walked the only batter he pitched to.

The Wildcats had a chance to tie in the bottom of the ninth when Dom Johnson smoked a one-out double off the high wall in right field. However, Baylor prevailed with a flyout to center field and another infield fly.

That seemed to be the story of the night for Wildcat hitters: flyouts and infield pop-ups. Some of those hits could’ve been home runs with normal Midwest wind conditions, but on a calm sunny day, those were outs.

K-State hosts game two of the series at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium. Tickets can be bought at K-State Sports, while viewing is on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.