Wildcat baseball wins opening series in high scoring fashion

Then-freshman Kaelen Culpepper runs toward home during the May 3, 2022 game against Wichita State at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

With two runners on and one out, Kaelen Culpepper rocketed a three-run homer over the left field wall to give Kansas State a four-run cushion. It served as the deciding moment in K-State’s 14-8 win against Stephen F. Austin, accomplishing the Wildcats’ first 3-0 start since 2011.

K-State is 11-of-11 when lead-off hitters reach base in the series, which continued in game 3 of the series. Redshirt Freshman Kyan Lodice collected two hits and led the team in four runs scored, while Brendan Jones and Roberto Pena tallied three hits to accompany the damage.

Dom Hughes scored three runs on two walks and a single prior to being ejected in the seventh inning. The scuffle started with words exchanged between Culpepper and Lumberjack catcher Hunter Prescher at home plate, but the Wildcats scored another two runs despite the drama.

The 22 collective runs is the most in the series, although both squads performed similarly with K-State scoring its 14 runs on 12 hits and SFA recording 11 hits for eight runs. However, the Wildcats walked 12 times while K-State pitchers held the Lumberjacks to three free passes.

Like the first two games of the four-game series, SFA assured K-State’s early run production didn’t matter. The back-and-forth match tested the Wildcat newcomers on the mound, but Division-III transfer Corey Cater and Cole Wisenbaker held the Lumberjacks to zero runs.

Starting pitcher Jackson Wentworth allowed four earned runs in two innings of work, striking two batters out in his first win as a Wildcat. Then, Cater relieved with two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings before handing the reins to Freshman Mason Buss, who allowed two runs prior to Wisenbaker’s three strikeouts. 

Culpepper’s three-run homer helped him tie Jones with a team’s best four-RBIs while shortstop Nick Goodwin hit three RBIs, soaring two sacrifice flies late in the game. Meanwhile, Lumberjack hitters Peyton Parker and Tom Biggs topped SFA’s RBI list with two apiece. 

The Wildcats seek its first series sweep of the season at 3 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20.