The Kansas State baseball team got off to a good start on Monday night, but when the Wildcats needed hits the most, they couldn’t come through.
The Wildcats (22-19) lost 5-2 to Cal State-Bakersfield at Tointon Family Stadium, in a game that saw the Wildcats put 16 runners on base.
K-State scored the first run of the game in the first inning on an RBI single from Tanner DeVinny after RJ Santigate singled and then stole second and third.
Austin Fisher put the Wildcats ahead 2-0 in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Max Brown.
Bakersfield (16-22) would tie the game in the top of the sixth, starting with a pinch hit, leadoff home run from Soloman Williams that soared over the scoreboard in right field. It was Williams’ first home run of the season and he entered the game hitting .188.
“One swing of the bat and all of the sudden they got momentum,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “That can happen, that’s baseball. We’ve just got to find a way to be able to curve it.”
The Wildcats made a pitching change a few batters later, taking Landon Busch out after 5 1/3 innings on the mound with five hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.
Jake Fromson came on in relief, and the first batter he faced hit a single, and then got caught in a run down before K-State first baseman Tyler Stover struck him in the back with a throw to second base, allowing Andrew Lojewski to score from third and tie the game at 2.
Bakersfield would take the lead in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded, when Mylz Jones hit into a fielder’s choice at second to score Jordie Hein, but Ross Kivett’s throw to first was wide, allowing Max Carter to score on the error and put the Roadrunners ahead 4-2.
The Wildcats had runners at second and third with one out in the bottom of the inning after a double from Santigate. But Fisher lined out to Mahlik Jones at third base, who dove to make the catch and landed on the bag for the force out to end the inning.
Bakersfield tacked on another run in the top of the eighth when Jones grounded into a double play that allowed David Metzgar to score from third base.
The Wildcats had eight runners on base in the final three innings, but they never brought a player around to score.
“We didn’t really have good at-bats until the seventh eighth and ninth and then balls found gloves, and it was too late,” Hill said. “You can’t play focused when the pressure gets turned. We got exactly what we deserved.”
It was the second straight loss for the Wildcats where the offense seemed unable to produce run-scoring opportunities. But K-State helped out the Bakersfield cause too, committing four errors including two by Kivett.
“Lack of focus, lethargic, that’s on me,” Hill said of the performance. “I’ve got to get these guys ready to play, and some of them have to look themselves in the mirror. We need some older guys to look themselves in the mirror. They need to get this turned on because that’s who we rely on.”
The Wildcats have another game against Bakersfield tonight at 6:30, and have lost six of their last eight games.
Senior pitcher Jared Moore said the team has to keep its focus forward.
“It’s just funny how baseball works,” he said. “I think we’re all frustrated — coaches, players, everybody — we kind of see where we are right now. The biggest thing is trying to stay optimistic through it and making sure you’re still coming out every day and doing what you can do.
“You can’t always control what happens, but you have to make sure it doesn’t sink in and just beat at us.”