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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

K-State advances to Super Regional after dominant Fayetteville Regional performance

3-0 weekend leads Wildcats into prized Super Regional berth
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Shortstop+Kaelen+Culpepper+celebrates+in+the+dugout+against+BYU+May+18%2C+2024.+The+Wildcats+later+advanced+to+the+second+Super+Regional+in+program+history%2C+led+by+a+regional+MVP+performance+from+Culpepper.
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Shortstop Kaelen Culpepper celebrates in the dugout against BYU May 18, 2024. The Wildcats later advanced to the second Super Regional in program history, led by a regional MVP performance from Culpepper.

For the first time since 2013, Kansas State baseball punched its ticket to the NCAA Super Regional. The Wildcats defeated Southeast Missouri 7-2 in the Fayetteville Regional final after both teams upset No. 5 Arkansas — the regional host. 

“Relentless: that’s a great word to describe this team,” head coach Pete Hughes said in a statement to K-State Athletics. “Just a great group of kids, they love playing with that KS on their chest and playing for that community.”

Hughes notches his first Super Regional appearance as a head coach. It is the second in K-State program history.

The Wildcats entered the region as the No. 3 seed and took down No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech 19-4 in the regional opener. Then, in a historic upset, K-State bested top-seeded Arkansas 7-6 to advance to the regional final. 

Despite losing to Arkansas during the opening round of the double-elimination bracket, No. 4 seed SEMO advanced to the final after upsetting the Razorbacks 6-3 in the loser’s bracket. As the only undefeated team in the region, K-State was in the driver’s seat and kept its foot on the gas.

A four-run second inning catapulted to an early lead against the Redhawks. Right fielder Nick English and left fielder Chuck Ingram scored courtesy of RBI singles from first baseman David Bishop and designated hitter Danniel Rivera — each of whom scored shortly after. 

The bottom of the third saw three more runs from the Wildcats, as Ingram, English and Bishop found home plate again, led by a two-RBI single from center fielder Brendan Jones.

SEMO couldn’t break through until the top of the eighth inning as K-State’s pitching staff opened with seven scoreless frames. The staff included Cole Wisenbaker, Blake Dean, JJ Slack and Ty Ruhl.

Ruhl, a junior righty, battled injuries all season but turned in his best performance of the year. He pitched four scoreless innings with two hits and five strikeouts. 

Shortstop Kaelen Culpepper was named the Fayetteville Regional’s most valuable player. He completed the fourth cycle in program history against LA Tech and went 7-for-12 with two home runs and seven RBI during the weekend.

“It means a lot, I’m glad I was able to perform at a high level to help our team win,” Culpepper said to K-State Athletics. “I wasn’t really coming here just to win awards, I wanted to win a regional, and that’s exactly what we did.”

The Wildcats travel to Charlottesville, Virginia to take on No. 12 national seed Virginia in a best-of-3 Super Regional, with a chance of advancing to the 2024 College World Series.

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