K-State baseball walks off TCU in back-and-forth thriller

Brady Day swings and hits the ball against the Creighton Bluejays. The Wildcats won 10-0 over the Bluejays on April 10 in Tointon Family Stadium. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: Corrected the stats in the first paragraph. The game saw three different ties, not four, and two lead changes, not three. We apologize for the error.

In a series that could solidify a trip to the NCAA Regionals for its winner, Kansas State baseball walked-off the TCU Horned Frogs 7-6 in Game 1. The game saw three different ties and two lead changes before the Wildcats became victorious in the bottom of the ninth.

K-State ace Owen Boerema took the mound and got off to a strong start. The lefty set down the first five batters he faced, including four strikeouts.

The K-State offense added two runs after two innings. Right fielder Cash Rugely sent a first-pitch one-out solo shot over the wall in the first followed by designated hitter Kyan Lodice who also recorded a first-pitch one-out home run in the second.

The Horned Frogs plated two on a single in the top of the third to tie the game, but not for long. Third baseman Kaelen Culpepper dropped a two-run single of his own into left, bringing the K-State lead back to two runs. 

TCU moved to its bullpen early, taking out starter Louis Rodriguez after three innings and four runs. The decision proved successful as reliever Cam Brown set down nine straight Wildcats, collecting five strikeouts in the process.

During that time, the Horned Frogs cut the Wildcat lead to 4-3 on a two-out RBI single in the fifth. Boerema left the game after six innings of three-run baseball with six strikeouts.

TCU put together another two-out rally in the seventh, bringing the game back to a tie. However, once again, it was short lived as the Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half. Center fielder Brendan Jones walked home a run before Culpepper grounded into a double play to end the inning.

K-State closer Tyson Neighbors, one of the nation’s premier pitchers, entered in the eighth inning with a one-run lead. A walk and defensive error set TCU up with two runners on and no outs. Tensions rose as K-State head coach Pete Hughes became verbally upset with the strike zone. Hughes was ejected shortly after, before more chaos ensued.

TCU appeared to take a 6-5 lead on a sacrifice bunt because of a throwing error into right field, but it was ruled an out due to runner’s interference along the first baseline. Each runner returned to their bases before an RBI double brought home the runners for good. TCU officially led 6-5. 

In the bottom of the ninth, K-State saw the opportunity to take back the lead. Left fielder Cole Johnson walked, then stole second. A hit by pitch and textbook bunt by Jones loaded the bases with no outs.

A wild pitch by TCU’s star closer Garrett Wright plated the tying run. Second baseman Brady Day then became the hero of the night with a walk-off single into deep left field.

The Wildcats will look to take the series in front of its home crowd at 6 p.m. on Friday at Tointon Family Stadium.