Lamar spoils Wildcat baseball winning streak

Then-sophomore German Fajardo pitches the ball during the May 3, 2022 game against Wichita State at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Following Kansas State’s first ever opening four-game road sweep, the Lamar Cardinals edged out a 4-3 victory at home against the Wildcats. K-State’s relief pitching effort kept the Wildcats within reach, but the Cardinals stayed hot enough to finish a close game following their win against No. 5 Texas A&M on Monday.

Lamar’s offense stirred trouble in the second and third innings, taking advantage of K-State mistakes. Starting pitcher German Fajardo escaped the first inning with two runners on, but the Cardinals scratched two runs across on a bases loaded single and a RBI-sac fly.

Fajardo requested a mound visit either verbally or with grimaces of pain, grabbing his leg and rotating his ankle prior to surrendering the two earned runs but finished the inning regardless. The command issues transferred over to hard-throwing Trae Robertson, who allowed two earned runs on a double off the right field wall by Ryan Schell.

Catcher Raphael Pelletier showcased the most consistent performance for the Wildcats, scoring two of K-State’s three runs, hitting two RBI and gunning a runner out trying to steal second base. Pelletier’s biggest contribution occurred in the seventh when he stroked a line drive solo home run over the tall-right field wall at Provost Umphrey Stadium.

Center fielder Brendan Jones aided Pelletier’s run total by scoring the catcher on an RBI-single in the second to get K-State on the scoreboard. However, other than Roberto Pena’s run scored from one of Pelletier’s RBI, no other Wildcats manufactured scoring.

Freshman RHP Mason Buss relieved Robertson in the third and played a big-part in keeping K-State in a close contest. Through 3 2/3 innings pitched, Buss didn’t allow any Cardinals to score in his four-hit and three-strikeout outing. The appearance improved from two earned runs in a 2/3 inning against Stephen F. Austin.

Tyson Neighbors relieved Buss and also allowed no runs. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, Neighbors set down two consecutive batters with high fastballs prior to Pelletier’s solo-blast in the seventh. 

Lamar’s five-through-eight hitters solely carried the Cardinals in run production, each of them scoring one run apiece. However, lead-off hitter Kevin Bermudez and two-hole batter Schell racked-up hits for RBI as well.

Cardinal pitchers threw consistently across the board as well, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and two walks. Starter Jeremy Rivera pitched the most efficiently out of the six Cardinal pitchers throwing, allowing Jones’ run and striking out two batters. The outing earned him the win while Fajardo suffered his first loss of the season. 

K-State travels to Round Rock, Texas, to play in the 2023 Karbach Round Rock Classic where the Wildcats face No. 1 LSU at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24. Then, Sam Houston State and Iowa follow on Saturday and Sunday. Viewing for K-State’s Friday matchup is available on D1Baseball while audio is available on KMAN Radio.