The struggles continues for the Kansas State baseball team.
The Wildcats were swept for the third straight time in Big 12 play this weekend, as the Oklahoma State Cowboys won the series finale 9-5 Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-State dropped to 19-26 overall and 3-15 in the Big 12, while the Cowboys improved to 26-17 and 11-7 in the conference.
The Wildcats’ losing streak now stands at eight in a row.
Oklahoma State reliever Kyle Ottoson got the win. Blake Barnes earned his third save of the season.
K-State’s Matt Applegate suffered the loss.
“You have to be able to compete and give effort,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “And that’s what we are really evaluating things on today. The difference between today and (Saturday) is that when (OSU) scored three, we came back and loaded up the bases the very next inning.
“I thought the guys stayed in it. They competed, they battled, they had the bases loaded with the tying run at the plate. Saturday there was no effort to get back in the game. Today there was.”
Still, Hill said his team is lacking the plays needed in clutch time to get over big humps.
“We’re just not executing some things,” he said. “When we need a clutch base hit guys are leaving the zone, or not putting a good swing on the ball. And our pitchers, when it’s time to put a guy away when it’s 0-2 or 1-2, we’re not doing that. It’s just things we’ve talked about, things you have to do to win games, and we’re just not doing them right now.
“We’re going to keep going and effort is going to be evaluated everyday. We can evaluate how competitive you are going to be, and our line-up is going to be based on those things. We’ll keep chart on those things and our line-up will be dictated that way.”
K-State was running right along with OSU most of the contest and a three-run bottom of the seventh brought the Wildcats back in contention.
Senior Wade Hinkle began the bottom of the frame reaching base after getting hit by a pitch and junior Jon Davis drew a walk. K-State flew out during the next at-bat, but freshman Kyle Speer reached on a fielder’s choice and Hinkle scored after an error by the Cowboys’ shortstop.
Oklahoma State then went to the bullpen in favor of Ottoson, but K-State’s Tanner Witt singled up the middle for an RBI and catcher Dan Klein scored during the next at-bat on a passed ball.
Ottoson silenced the Wildcats’ threat with a strikeout to end the inning, but the Wildcats were able to narrow the Cowboys’ lead 6-5.
But, like so many of K-State’s games this season — especially in conference play — the final innings were not in the Cats’ favor.
Oklahoma State’s Randy McCurry led off the top of the eighth with a single on a 0-2 pitch from reliever Johnny Fasola. Then following a popout, Saulyer Saxon doubled down the left-field line. An error in left field allowed McCurry to score on the play. Later, a two-run single through the left side by third baseman Mark Ginther extended the Cowboys’ lead to 9-5 before the top half of the inning was complete.
K-State was able to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but a fly-out left runners stranded.
“We’re not getting the big hit right now,” K-State sophomore Jared King said. “We’re getting guys on base — we’re just not cashing them in right now. That’s kind of been the main thing.”
King, who was at one time near the top of the conference in hitting, has seen his batting average drop significantly over the past month — going from .470 to .356.
“It gets (in your head) at times,” King said about the team’s April struggles. “You get up there, and obviously, you want to do well, but the (losing streak) creeps up in there. You just have to do the best you can when you are up there and react.
“We just have to take it one inning at a time.”
The Wildcats play at Wichita State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., before hosting Nebraska-Omaha Friday through Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium.
OKLAHOMA STATE 9,
Oklahoma State 1 0 0 1 1 1 2 3 0 — 9 16 1
Kansas State 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 — 5 8 2
WP — Ottoson (4-5). LP — Applegate (2-6). Save — Barnes (3).
2B — Oklahoma State 3 (Whaley 2, Saxon). K-State (Hinkle). 3B — K-State (Kivett). HR — Oklahoma State (McCurry).