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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Baseball goes 2-2 in opening Arizona road trip

Jersey Johnson
Then-sophomore Tyson Neighbors lines up for a pitch against Stonehill on March 6, 2023. In K-State’s opening road stretch, earned his first save of the season, closing out Georgetown 7-6.

Baseball season is off and running for No. 24 Kansas State. The Wildcats began their season with a four-game road trip in Arizona. From Feb. 16-18, K-State battled California, Boston College and Georgetown at Sloan Park in Scottsdale. The trip ended on Feb. 20 in Phoenix against Arizona State.

Beginning against California, the opening game of the season saw the Wildcats fall short on MLB Network, 6-3. Left-handed pitcher Owen Boerema, 2023 All-Big 12 second team, made the opening start, pitching three innings and allowing two runs with four strikeouts.

K-State climbed back to tie the game in the fifth inning but were out-gunned then on. Relief pitcher Josh Wintroub recorded the loss after pitching 2.1 innings and allowing three runs.

The Wildcats flipped the script after falling on national television with back-to-back wins.

First, against Boston College, K-State gained a 5-0 lead through six and a half innings featuring a two-run double from designated hitter Jayden Lobliner. Starting pitcher Ty Ruhl dominated in his six innings, throwing for six strikeouts but earning two earned runs in the seventh inning.

The other two earned runs came from relief pitcher Cole Wisenbaker after allowing a grand slam to bring the score within one. The Wildcats prevailed with a single from shortstop Kaelen Culpepper and a three-inning-scoreless outing from relief pitcher Blake Dean. Dean earned the save with six strikeouts while only allowing one runner on to win 6-4.

The following game day started with a bang as Culpepper knocked a solo home run in the first inning. Throughout the game, the Friars never gained the lead, but twice tied the game. 

The Wildcats led 7-4 with All-American reliever Tyson Neighbors marching from the bullpen to close the deal. After posting a 1.85 ERA in 2023, Neighbors allowed a two-run home run to bring Georgetown within one in the ninth inning. Nevertheless, Neighbors closed out the inning, earning his first save of the season for the 7-6 win.

The Wildcats final game of the road trip started off with another strong start. K-State went up 3-0 quickly while Culpepper again contributed. The preseason All-American knocked in another home run, his second of the season. 

Arizona State quickly responded with four runs in two innings to take the lead with Boerema again starting. The Wildcats twice tied the game, both times from RBIs from second baseman Brady Day — one on a walk and another on a single. 

Tied 5-5, the Sun Devils again mounted a two-inning, four-run spurt. K-State managed to score one run in the ninth inning but lost the game 9-6.

After splitting four games against three Power 5 programs, the Wildcats return home to begin home play. The six-game stretch will start at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23 against Holy Cross in a three-game series, followed up by another three-game series against UMass Lowell the following weekend.

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About the Contributor
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
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