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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Walk-off and strikeout record highlight series victory over BYU

Baseball’s regular season finished with a 2-1 series victory against BYU
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Reliever JJ Slack celebrates after setting down a BYU batter in the series opener on May 16. The Wildcats set a program-record 21 strikeouts in the victory.

Kansas State baseball concluded its regular season slate Saturday with a 2-1 series decision over BYU, highlighted by a program-record 21 strikeouts in a walk-off opener Thursday. 

The Wildcats finish the regular season at 31-22, 15-15 in conference, placing as the No. 6 seed at the upcoming Big 12 Championship starting Tuesday, May 21. K-State will face No. 7 seed KU — 29-21, 15-15 in Big 12 play — with first pitch at 9 a.m. at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

In the series opener, K-State combined for a program-record 21 strikeouts across the arms of grad Owen Boerema, freshman Blake Dean, junior Tyson Neighbors and grad JJ Slack. 

Boerema, who made his 16th season start, recorded 5 1/3 innings while striking out six batters. Dean punched out another six in relief, followed by Neighbors with seven. Slack earned the win and fanned a pair of batters to close out the game. 

Allowing Slack to pick up the victory was sophomore Kyan Lodice, who came off the bench and slapped the game-winner into center field with the bases loaded. The 12th-inning walk-off cemented a 7-6 victory, overcoming a late push from BYU, which trailed 6-0 in the fourth inning.

In the second matchup on Friday, strikeout continued to be the name of the game for K-State as starter Jackson Wentworth set down 11 batters, paving the way toward a 2-1 victory. 

“That was an awesome college baseball game,” head coach Pete Hughes said to K-State Athletics. “It was clean with no errors and elite pitching. [Wentworth] was as good as it gets. Your stuff has to be really good, and your repertoire has to be very deep to go through a lineup three times effectively and he was able to do that.”

Wentworth, a redshirt sophomore righty, tossed a career-long eight innings, moving to 4-4 on the year. Across his lengthy outing, Wentworth allowed one run across just five hits. 

“Tyson Neighbors comes back the day after throwing 50 pitches,” Hughes said. “It’s an incredible display of an unselfish team guy. He was outstanding and as efficient as it gets.”

Neighbors, the Wildcats’ All-American closer, struck out a pair to clinch the series victory. He earned his sixth save over his last eight outings — a 13-inning stretch he allowed just one run over. 

BYU took the series finale, 12-8, ending the series — and the Wildcats’ senior night — on a sour note. K-State honored seven seniors: Brady Day, Chuck Ingram, Jaden Parsons, Danniel Rivera, Ty Ruhl, Orlando Salinas Jr. and Josh Wintroub.

K-State’s loss came in extra innings as a 10th-inning grand slam led the Cougars to victory. 

“We did a lot of good things,” Hughes said in another statement to K-State Athletics. “Proud of our guys battling back and tying that in the bottom of the ninth off a closer who’s been dominating this year. That sets up for a great comeback and it just didn’t happen. I feel bad for our seniors. Really frustrating loss because it was so close, but that’s the life of major college athletics right there.”

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