Baseball wins in late wave against Central Connecticut State

Brendon Jones throws during the game against Nebraska on March 9, 2022 at Tointon Family Stadium. (File photo by Julia Smith | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State Baseball (5-7) kicked off its home opener against Central Connecticut State (3-2) on Saturday afternoon in a fast-paced offensive affair.

The Wildcats controlled the game until the seventh inning when the Blue Devils tied the game at three apiece. The Wildcats ultimately won 6-3.

Starting pitcher Blake Adams went two scoreless innings before allowing his first hits and first run of the game in the third inning. Adams had seven strikeouts – slightly below his average of nine – and didn’t have trouble until the sixth when he gave up one more run.

“Another great start from Blake Adams,” said K-State head coach Pete Hughes. “It’s a veteran team that he pitched against – a post-season, battle-tested team that puts the ball in play. He threw big shots: he was awesome. It was all based on his starting .

Like the game against Nebraska, K-State allowed their opponent to secure an early lead, but the Wildcats recovered instantly.

South Carolina-traded Jeff Heinrich homered a two-run homer to left center in the bottom half of the third inning, giving K-State a 2-1 lead. It was only his third at bat of the season due to a hamstring injury.

“We’ve been waiting for him to get healthy, he’s an explosive bat,” Hughes said. “He would have had strokes earlier if he was healthy.”

An injury often holds players back from reps and confidence, but that wasn’t a problem for the starting designated hitter.

“He was ready to go,” Hughes said. “He kept his head in the right place, so when his number was called he gave us a quality outing.”

Heinrich added two more hits after the two-run blast and scored his own run later in the game. The elder now hopes to add power to the batting order.

“I see myself being a spark plug – light up boys with Dom Johnson,” Heinrich said. “Throughout the lineup, from one to nine, we had a lot of guys with energy: a lot of juice in the bat, just looking to add to that.”

K-State scored its third run of the game with another drifting home run to center field in the fourth inning by Josh Nicoloff. That gave the Cats a 3-1 advantage, but wasn’t enough to rule out the Blue Devils just yet.

After Ty Ruhl appeared two strikeouts in the seventh after relieving Blake Adams, he found himself in an eighth-inning jam. With bases loaded from two singles and a missed fielder’s choice, Ruhl gave up only one run, but it was the third and tying.

That’s when a hot Dominic Johnson stepped in to take control. On the first pitch of his AB, he drilled the Wildcat’s third homer of the game to put K-State ahead at 4-3.

Then, receiver Justin Mitchell fielded an RBI single into left field to make it 5-3. Cole Johnson added an exclamation point with a two-out RBI double to left center. The eighth inning three-run killed all hopes of a Blue Devils comeback.

“I was proud that our team played in the eighth inning when the score was tied, and we fought back to take (the lead) and win a game from the eighth inning,” Hughes said.

Ty Ruhl picked up the win for his three innings pitched, an earned run and two at-bats to close the door at Central Connecticut State.

K-State continues its streak against the Blue Devils at 1 p.m. in a doubleheader on Sunday. The second match takes place approximately 45 minutes after the first match.

Both games can be viewed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with radio coverage on KMAN. Tickets for both matches can be purchased at K-state sports.

About Bobby F. Lopez

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