Wildcat struggles continue in Omaha

Brendan Jones pitches during the game against Nebraska on March 9, 2022, at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Julia Smith | Collegian Media Group)

After a tough 0-3 weekend at the Round Rock Classic in Texas, Kansas State baseball failed to right the ship in a 7-6 loss to the Omaha Mavericks. The defeat puts the Wildcats at 4-5 before its home opener. 

The Wildcats got off to a solid start with back-to-back walks by center fielder Brendan Jones and left fielder Dom Hughes. Jones would come around to score on an RBI single by second baseman Brady Day. 

After K-State took the early 1-0 lead, pitcher Shay Hartis had a shaky beginning to his first start with the Wildcats. Omaha center fielder Haiden Hunt recorded a lead-off home run followed by two consecutive walks in the bottom of the first. The damage by Omaha stopped there as Hartis settled in and stranded the runners. 

K-State’s offense picked back up in the second inning. Designated hitter Cole Johnson doubled and came around to score on catcher Cayden Phillips’ own double. Jones and Hughes would each walk again and score to give the Wildcats a 4-1 lead. 

Pitching improved as Hartis continued to hold down the Maverick offense. The Omaha bullpen had kept the Mavericks within striking distance until shortstop Nick Goodwin hit a no-doubt home run into left-center field.

K-State led 6-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. Freshman pitcher Andrew Evans entered for Hartis and struggled in his second career appearance. Omaha tagged on a couple of runs to cut the Wildcat lead to just three. 

Both offenses fell stagnant for the next two innings, but the Mavericks would change this trend in the bottom of the eight. A series of singles plated four runs that gave Omaha a 7-6 lead going into the ninth inning.

The Wildcats failed to score in the ninth as they suffered another late-game defeat in the early season.

K-State will finally get to play its home opener against Army with a 4:02 p.m. first pitch set at Tointon Family Stadium on Friday, March 3.