Nick Goodwin, Orlando Salinas and Justin Mitchell each hit home runs Sunday afternoon as Kansas State knocked off No. 6 Oklahoma State 7-2 for its first conference win of the season.
The Wildcats (14-13, 1-5 Big 12) scored three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth to salvage the last of the three-game series and beat the Cowboys (20-8, 5-1 Big 12) in Manhattan for the first time since 2008.
K-State scored at least five runs in the final four innings of all three games against Oklahoma State over the weekend but Sunday was the first time it didn’t have to play from behind, thanks in part to starter Connor McCullough’s pitching performance. McCullough threw six complete innings in which he allowed two runs on five hits and four walks to go along with six strikeouts.
“He was the storyline for me,” said Wildcats head coach Pete Hughes. “That’s a quality outing, six innings against a good offense too. He was able to mix and match. His curveball, I think, was the difference-maker for him in his outing today.”
Blake Adams (3-2) earned the victory on the mound as he pitched the final three frames and held Oklahoma State scoreless. The win was redemptive for Adams after his disastrous relief appearance on Friday.
Ryan Ure (0-1) took the loss for the Cowboys despite facing just two batters.
K-State snagged a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Justin Mitchell took a pitch to the hip and Kaelen Culpepper doubled to deep left-center field with two outs, scoring Mitchell from first without a throw.
“That has to be a long double to score Justin Mitchell from first, so some crazy things happened on that play,” Hughes quipped. “In my head, I’m like, ‘I can’t send him.’ As I watched him running around second, I’m like, ‘There’s no way.’”
Oklahoma State knotted the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth when McCullough delivered a bases-loaded walk to Zach Ehrhard. With the bases still loaded and just one away in the frame, McCullough got Jake Thompson to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Dylan Phillips walked with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and stole second before Cole Johnson doubled down the left field line. The ball rolled all the way to the outfield wall, allowing Phillips to round third and put the Wildcats back in front 2-1.
“I talked to our team about that today: ‘It’d be nice to get out in front instead of chasing,’” Hughes said. “Everything’s easier when you’re out in front, the pitches you call, to defense, to relaxed at-bats, to being able to do some stuff offensively if you have a lead. And that was critical and it puts a little pressure on them too. We got into their bullpen early and did a good job versus a couple good arms.”
The Cowboys immediately responded when a sacrifice fly to right field from Marcus Brown drove in David Mendham to tie the game once more at 2-2.
Phillips again walked with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Cole Johnson hit his second RBI-double of the game, this time sending it into the left-center field gap.
In the next at-bat, Goodwin slipped a ball just over the right field wall to extend K-State’s lead to 5-2.
“We had a one-run lead going into that point and to hit that home run there and score two runs gave us some run support that we needed,” Goodwin said. “That was big for Blake, who was on the mound. It gave him some comfort.”
But the Wildcats weren’t done.
Salinas — a transfer from Oklahoma State — led off the eighth inning with a solo shot over the monster in right field and Mitchell sent one out of the park in the opposite direction in the subsequent at-bat.
“Great character win, great bounce-back win,” Hughes said. “It’s always hard coming back if you lose the first two in a series. Playing with urgency and being resilient, our guys did a great job with that today. All those wins count the same Friday, Saturday or Sunday at the end of the year in the standings, so that was critical for us to play well today.”
Goodwin and Cole Johnson both finished with two-hit, two-RBI games. Five of K-State’s seven runs came with two outs and seven of its eight hits went for extra bases.
The Wildcats will stay home to host Creighton at Tointon Family Stadium at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Dylan Phillips broke the K-State career home run record Saturday afternoon but it came in an 8-6 loss to Oklahoma State.
Phillips earned the top mark with a homer in the bottom of the first to put the Wildcats up 1-0 and added a two-run shot in the sixth to reach No. 39 in his career.
However, Oklahoma State scored seven unanswered runs between Phillips’ home runs and led 8-3 after the top of the eighth.
Dominic Johnson hit a ground-rule double to right-center field to score Kaelyn Culpepper in the bottom of the eighth and Nick Goodwin scored Cole Johnson and Dominic Hughes with a double to left field.
But K-State went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, unable to complete the rally.
Starter Griffin Hassall (3-4) took the loss after pitching 5 1/3 innings and giving up six runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three.
K-State scored the final seven runs of the game but needed even more as Oklahoma State held on for a 12-9 victory Friday night.
The Wildcats fell behind 12-2 after 5 1/2 innings before scoring four in the bottom of the sixth and three in the bottom of the seventh. Although they put runners on base in the final two frames, they couldn’t bring them home.
The Cowboys pulled out to a 2-0 lead after the top of the first. K-State got on the board when Josh Nicoloff hit into a fielder’s choice that drove in Dylan Phillips in the bottom of the second.
Phillips tied the game and the Wildcats’ career home run record with a solo shot in the third. It was the 37th home run of his career.
Oklahoma State put up four runs in the fifth inning and six in the sixth to push its advantage out of reach.
Blake Corsentino (1-2) started and took the loss for K-State, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits, a walk and two strikeouts. Blake Adams allowed two runs (zero earned) on four hits and Tyler Ruhl gave up six runs on two hits, four walks and one hit batter.
Ben Weber calmed the waters for the Wildcats, pitching the final three innings and allowing no runs, no hits, a walk and three strikeouts.
K-State committed three costly fielding errors in the game.