Wildcats suffer first home loss against St. Thomas

Nick Goodwin leans in to a catch to tag out St. Thomas on second base. The Wildcats won the first round of the homestead 11-2. (Archive photo by Madison Riebel | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball (14-8) fell 2-1 to the St. Thomas Tommies (2-13), splitting its two-game series. The loss put an end to K-State’s perfect 8-0 record in home games. 

The Tommies jumped out to an early lead against K-State starter Shay Hartis. The opening two batters reached on singles, advanced on a passed ball and one came home on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Dylan O’Connell. 

Despite stopping the damage at one run, K-State made a pitching change to Jackson Wentworth in the third inning. The K-State offense, however, struggled to find success.

The Wildcats saw their first opportunity to strike in the bottom of the fourth. Without recording a hit, K-State managed to load the bases with only one out, but came away empty handed and still trailed 1-0. 

In the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats’ no-hit woes ended as designated hitter Kyan Lodice singled to right center. The Tommies made a pitching change to Tucker Huhn, removing starter Owen Marsh who finished with 4 2/3 innings of one-hit baseball. 

K-State tagged Huhn for a couple of hits during the fifth and sixth innings but remained scoreless. It appeared the Wildcats could tie the game with an infield single by third baseman Roberto Pena, but a runner’s interference was called for the third out.

St. Thomas extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the seventh on a series of small ball plate appearances consisting of a walk, bunt and groundout to score the runner. 

The Wildcats stranded two runners in the eighth and faced its final three to salvage the night. 

K-State had one last chance to score in the bottom of the ninth. The Wildcats opened with two walks by Pena and center fielder Brendan Jones who proceeded to steal second and third.  Shortstop Nick Goodwin plated Pena on a groundout to close the deficit 2-1, but in doing so left the Wildcats on their last out. The game was left in the hands of first baseman Cole Johnson, who battled but ultimately struck out.

Hartis receives the loss and drops to 2-1 on the season. For the Tommies, Evan Esch recorded his first save on the season and Huhn (1-0) got the win. 

K-State will remain at home for a weekend Big 12 series against the Oklahoma Sooners from March 24-26.