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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Baseball’s chaotic home opener ends in 17-11 victory

Grace Parks
Designated hitter Jayden Lobliner runs the bases against Holy Cross. In K-State’s 17-11 victory over the Crusaders on Feb. 23, Lobliner earned five RBI.

Kansas State baseball’s home opener had all the workings. In total: over 400 pitches thrown, 28 runs, 27 hits, 15 walks, eight hit-by-pitches, eight stolen bases (all K-State), five home runs and even a stolen home plate. K-State came out of the crazed back-and-forth victorious against Holy Cross 17-11 as pitcher Sam Roberts grabbed his first career win as a Wildcat with just 1.1 innings pitched.

“You got to be patient,” head coach Pete Hughes said. “That’s the message early on in the dugout in games like that. You just don’t panic because you play nine innings.”

Starting the day on the mound, right-handed pitcher Ty Ruhl struggled in the start. The junior allowed four runs on 41 pitches, including a solo home run to the first batter and a hit-by-pitch. 

“[Ruhl is] one of the most consistent kids in our program over the last three years,” Hughes said. “He had a bad outing. His teammates were there to pick them up.”

The Wildcat offense responded with two runs themselves in the first inning, but Ruhl was taken out in the second by relief pitcher Josh Wintroub, finishing the inning allowing no runs.

Relief pitcher Josh Wintroub came in for pitcher Ty Ruhl, closing the second inning and allowing no runs. (Avery Johnson)

After a scoreless second inning, the third rejuvenated the bombardment of runs from both sides. Holy Cross center fielder Gianni Royer knocked in a pair on a double to go up 6-2. The Wildcats in turn responded ferociously. 

K-State regained the lead with a five-run inning, gaining its first two hits of the game. The second hit came from designated hitter Jayden Lobliner bringing in three runs on a home run. 

“The pregame mindset was to take whatever I could to right field and just let the wind help me a little bit,” Lobliner said.

Third baseman Danniel Rivera stole the show as he stole home plate to grab a 7-6 lead.

“All it was was a look in the dugout. … I didn’t even give him a sign,” Hughes said. “It’s only my fifth game coaching the kid and we’re on the same page. But that was all him. It takes a kid playing to win and a ton of confidence and experience to steal home in that situation. It was awesome.”

The Crusaders regained the lead quickly, scoring two runs in the fourth. After another inning, Holy Cross led 9-8 after grabbing another run but allowing another home run, this time to Rivera.

Finally, K-State grabbed a hold of the game in the sixth inning.

With two runners on, Lobliner collected his fourth and fifth RBI with a single. Lobliner was followed up by a Rivera single and then even more. Catcher Raphael Pelletier nailed a three-run home run to give the Wildcats a 13-9 lead after six innings.

“[Jayden is] in the conversation of one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached,” Hughes said.

The Crusaders had a march back, scoring two runs in the eight, but it wasn’t enough. 

K-State collected four runs in the ninth inning and pushed hope of a comeback away. Pitcher Jackson Wentworth grabbed his first career save in 1.1 innings.

“We got a lot of guys get on the mound for the first time as Wildcats, and they did a commendable job,” Hughes said.

The win places K-State at 3-2  with two more games left against the Crusaders. The series finishes 11 a.m. on Sunday before Game 2 at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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