Wildcats launch grand slams in four-game series sweep

Junior Cole Johnson finishes his swing. The Wildcats fell to the Falcons on March 23, 2022 at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Madison Riebel | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: In the original online article, we incorrectly credited Dalton Beck with the Wildcat win. The article has now been correctly updated with Blake Corsentino named the winning pitcher.

Kansas State baseball earns its first opening four-game sweep since 1984 and its first opening four-game road sweep with its 16-5 win against Stephen F. Austin. With the help of a 10-mph Texas wind from the right field foul pole to the left field, the Wildcats launched five home runs, including two grand slams.

Outfielder Cole Johnson smashed a towering grand slam over frozen left fielder Clayton Loranger moments after his second inning solo-bomb. Then, first baseman Roberto Pena extended a seven-run cushion by lofting a high-flying second grand slam beyond the left field wall in the fourth inning. Cash Rugely followed with a 2-RBI big-fly in the sixth inning for his second of the series, and Kaelen Culppepper smacked a 3-run homer to add insult to injury in the ninth. 

Johnson’s two home runs — out of the team’s five — helped him to lead the team with six RBI from his homers and a bases loaded walk. The RBI-walk served as one of 12 K-State free passes for the Wildcats leading up to Pena’s grand slam.

K-State scored 13 consecutive times when the lead-off batter reached first base in the series. The trend continued until freshman Carson Queck grounded into a double-play in the seventh inning, making the Wildcats 13-of-14 on the season. Queck’s at-bat highlighted his debut appearance, accompanying starting pitcher Dalton Beck — the fourth new Wildcat starting pitcher in the series.

Beck surrendered two earned runs on two hits and struck a batter out in 2 innings pitched while Blake Corsentino’s one run, four hit, four strikeout outing earned him the win. Then, Olathe-native Andrew Evans allowed two runs and struck out three batters in three innings prior to Kyler Heyne closing out the game.

SFA starting pitcher Carter Hines’ five runs allowed in 2 1/3 innings earned him the loss, although reliever Reid Boyett surrendered six runs. The Lumberjacks’ five runs couldn’t overcome the damage through four innings, regardless of efforts by heavy sluggers Alex Rodgers, Clayton Loranger, Peyton Parker and Tom Biggs.

K-State travels two hours to face Lamar in Beaumont, Texas, for a game against the Cardinals, where a win at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, marks the Wildcats’ first 5-0 start since 2011. Viewing is available on ESPN+, while audio is available at KMAN Radio.