A barrage of solo home runs pushes Wildcats past No. 24 West Virginia 

Infielder Orlando Salinas Jr. twirls his bat in preparation for the pitch. Salinas tallied 5 RBI in K-State's 14-8 win against Army. (Archive photo by Chase Hagemann | Collegian Media Group)

While Kansas State baseball smashed five solo home runs in the defeat of No. 24 West Virginia 7-2, pitcher German Fajardo (1-1) stole the show. Fajardo pitched seven innings for the first time in his career in his first win of the season. He added six strikeouts in the win over West Virginia pitcher Blaine Traxel (5-2), giving him his second loss.

“My fastball and slider for sure [felt good],” Fajardo said. “Just trying to be consistent with those two pitches. That’s like my bread and butter.”

After a scoreless first inning, the second featured the second baseman Brady Day hitting the first solo home run for the Wildcats on the day. First baseman Roberto Pena followed up Day in the third with a solo shot of his own to give K-State a 2-0 lead after three.

The Mountaineers crawled back in the fourth with designated hitter Dayne Leonard putting up a single. Leonard was driven in by a triple from left fielder Landon Wallace to drive in their one run.

K-State failed to respond in the fourth but did so in the fifth. Catcher Raphael Pelletier hit his fifth home run of the year with a solo home run over the right fielder’s head.

K-State added to the scoreboard in the seventh inning with its first run not off of a home run. A double from left fielder Cole Johnson allowed for a sac bunt from right fielder Cash Rugely to push Johnson to third base. Pelletier drove in his second run of the day on a sac-fly to push the lead to 4-1.

Pitcher Tyson Neighbors entered the game in the eighth and quickly ended the half inning after allowing a single to his first batter.

The Wildcat offense continued its destruction after Neighbors’ first inning pitching. In between a Mountaineer pitching change from Traxel to Maxx Yehl, designated hitter Dom Hughes blasted a home run, followed up by second baseman Nick Goodwin doing the same. Goodwin’s home run made himself the sole home run leader for K-State on the season with seven.

The bottom of the eighth continued past the two home runs, as West Virginia completed a total of five pitching changes in the half inning and a Pena walk brought the lead to 7-1.

K-State brought out pitcher Mason Buss in the top of the ninth. Buss finished the inning with one strikeout and walk to seal the game 7-1.

K-State won the hitting battle 9-4 as Pena led the team with two hits on the day and tied Pelletier with two RBI.

“The approach today was to see the fastball up, hit a strike,” Pena said. “He’s [Traxel] a sinker baller, sidearmer, so just not to play to his strengths.”

The Wildcats moved to 19-10 and 5-3 in Big 12 play. K-State and West Virginia decide at 1 p.m. on Sunday the winner of the three-game series.

“It begins and ends with good starting pitching and German was phenomenal,” manager Pete Hughes said. “He allowed our offense to just chip away and build the lead.”