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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Baseball drops series at West Virginia

K-State unable to capitalize on Friday’s victory
Alexis Forgy
Closing pitcher Tyson Neighbors pitches the final inning allowing no runs, securing the win for the Wildcats. K-State won against KU 4-2 May 5 at Tointon Family Stadium. This win, combined with the win from Friday, led to the series win of the Sunflower Showdown for the Wildcats.

Kansas State baseball failed to surmount a difficult conference foe, falling 1-2 against West Virginia in the final road series of the regular season. 

The Wildcats — 29-22, 13-14 in Big 12 play — saw their RPI ranking drop one spot to No. 37 with one regular season series left. K-State will host BYU, which is in last place in the Big 12, May 16-18 ahead of postseason play.

West Virginia — 31-19, 17-10 in conference — is third place in the Big 12 despite owning No. 40 RPI, three spots lower than the Wildcats.

K-State grabbed an early series lead, taking the opener in a classic Friday night baseball matchup. It was the Wildcats’ ninth series-opening win of the year. 

“Another tight, well-played Friday game for our guys,” head coach Pete Hughes said in a statement to K-State Athletics. “… We were able to start fast offensively, something that is critical on the road. All around it was clean, tough baseball tonight. Proud of our guys.”

Simply put, K-State’s best pitchers stepped up when they needed to in the contest, making timely offense enough for a 4-3 win.

Left-handed starter Owen Boerema notched his fifth win of the year, moving to 5-3. The graduate senior allowed all three runs but struck out eight batters across his seven innings of work.

“[Boerema] set the tone and had a great start,” Hughes said. “He was able to keep a really good offense off balance and off the bases.”

Freshman Blake Dean set up All-American closer Tyson Neighbors to close the door in the ninth. Neighbors made it his fifth consecutive appearance with a save, setting down the Mountaineers in order. 

Offensively, junior Brady Day led the way by opening with an RBI single in the first inning, followed by another in the seventh. He finished the game 2-for-5 with two RBI. 

In Game 2, K-State couldn’t overcome its mistakes. 

The Wildcats yielded nine unearned runs across three errors. The self-inflicted wounds coupled with a mid-game rain delay led to a 13-0 blowout. 

Sophomore starter Jackson Wentworth fanned seven batters across 6 1/3 innings but was handed the loss with four earned runs attached to his name. 

“Unfortunately, when you have nine unearned runs it’s tough to win the series clincher,” Hughes said. “… I thought Jackson was really good tonight and just ran into some bad luck with the weather.”

While the Wildcats’ offense picked up in the series finale, the Mountaineers stood tall and took the series in a 12-5 victory. 

Graduate starter Josh Wintroub was nabbed for three runs, two earned, in under two innings of work. The bullpen arms failed to slow down West Virginia, and Jacob Frost, JJ Slack and Dean combined to allow nine runs over the final five innings. 

Day came to play at the plate once again, driving in three runners across a 1-for-4 game highlighted by a sixth-inning two-RBI triple. 

On deck for K-State is hosting basement-dweller BYU starting at 6 p.m. May 16. The Wildcats will compete in the Big 12 tournament after the regular season concludes. 

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