K-State baseball falls in Big 12 semifinals, awaits NCAA Tournament fate

Kaelen Culpepper swings the bat against the Creighton Bluejays. The Wildcats had a victory of 10-0 over the Bluejays on April 10, 2023, in Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Untimely hitting and errors plagued Kansas State as it fell 6-3 to the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Baseball Championship semifinals in Arlington, Texas.

K-State entered today as one of the final two teams in the NCAA Tournament field per D1Baseball and will learn its fate at 11 a.m. ​​Monday on ESPN2.

Collin Rothermel took the mound for the Wildcats despite owning just seven career starts. Early on, the righty carried over K-State’s strong pitching while facing elimination in Arlington.

K-State opened the scoring after three scoreless frames. Catcher Raphael Pelletier launched a no-doubt home run over the MLB wall in right.

TCU brought the game back to a tie in the bottom of the fourth with an unearned run.

In the fifth, the K-State offense struck back. Two singles opened the inning with both runners coming around to score after a single into right by shortstop Nick Goodwin.

Once again, the Horned Frogs tied the game in the bottom half after a home run, triple and sac fly.

Rothermel labored into the sixth inning, bringing on K-State ace Owen Boerema in relief. Boerema inherited two runners that turned into the bases loaded with no outs after a TCU bunt.

The Horned Frogs plated one run on a double play, taking a 4-3 lead, but Boerema largely escaped the jam. The lefty struck out the side in the seventh to keep the Wildcats in the game.

A chaotic sacrifice bunt in the eighth extended the TCU lead to 6-3. Two batters were walked and came around to score on the bunt, the second being unearned on a throwing error past third base.

The Wildcats outhit TCU 12-3 but stranded 10 runners in the process and allowed 6 free passes. Only three of TCU’s six runs were earned runs, making K-State’s three errors costly.

Rothermel (1-3) received the loss, allowing all three earned runs on just three hits through five innings. Boerema finished with three innings and four strikeouts.

TCU’s Ben Abeldt got the win in relief. The lefty threw 3 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and only three hits.

Kaelen Culpepper wrapped up his strong tournament performance going 2-for-5 at the plate. Second baseman Brady Day finished 3-for-4 with a run. 

The Horned Frogs move on to the championship game in Arlington while K-State will hope to hear its name called during Monday’s NCAA Tournament selection show.