Wildcats walk-off to avoid Stonehill upset

K-State’s Nick Goodwin dives for third base on a two-run triple that tied the game. Goodwin then scored to take a 3-2 lead for the Wildcats. (Archive photo by Chase Hagemann | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball walked-off Stonehill 6-5, giving K-State a four-game win streak in its home-opening weekend. The four wins came in the form of a two-game sweep of Army and Stonehill. In the first matchup against Stonehill, K-State’s 25-3 victory saw the most runs for the program since 2010. 

K-State fell in a hole almost immediately. Stonehill center fielder Sam Parks reached on a blooper and came home on a two-run home run by first baseman Trey Ciulla-Hall. Two more runners reached and proceeded to score on a two-run double by second baseman, later pitcher, Ryan Douglas. 

Stonehill led 4-0 going into the second inning. K-State starter Dalton Beck’s struggles continued in the second and was pulled after two walks. He managed to get two outs before his exit, however, and set-up pitcher Mason Buss to get out of the jam. 

The bats for both teams went silent for a majority of the game as Stonehill kept escaping jam after jam. In the third inning, K-State had two runners with nobody out, but a double play and ground out left them scoreless. 

In the fifth inning Stonehill increased its lead to 5-0 as right fielder Taylor Gaspar came around unearned. In the bottom of the same inning, Stonehill avoided another attempt by the Wildcats to score. Two runners reached on walks but were stranded after K-State left fielder Cole Johnson was caught stealing and center fielder Brendan Jones struck out looking. 

K-State’s hopes for the sweep looked bleak on the cold-windy evening with the five-run deficit and only recording two hits in the first five innings. 

In the seventh inning, momentum started to shift towards the Wildcats. Johnson singled, stole second and third base and then scored on a failed pick off past third. K-State loaded the bases and right fielder Cash Rugely plated a run on an infield single. Shortstop Nick Goodwin then scored on a wild-pitch to cut the Stonehill lead to 5-3.

K-State continued to chip away in the eighth on a two-out RBI single by designated hitter Dom Hughes. Jones hit a routine pop fly into right field and looked to be the third-out, but Gaspar dropped the ball and Hughes tied the game at 5-5 going into the ninth. 

After Tyson Neighbors shutdown Stonehill in the top of the ninth, K-State catcher Raphael Pelletier started the bottom with a single. Kyan Lodice came in as a pinch runner, advanced on a walk then again on a wild pitch. With one out, Johnson walked-off with a one-out single to center that scored Lodice. 

Douglas received the loss for Stonehill after switching from second base to the mound in the eighth. Neighbors moves to 2-1 on the season with the win out of the bullpen. 

The Wildcats will look to stay perfect at home with a three-game weekend series against Youngstown State. The first game will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday.