OKLAHOMA CITY — Looking for back-to-back victories to avoid elimination from the Big 12 Tournament, Kansas State jumped on 5th ranked Texas Tech early, winning 7-2.
Cameron Thompson and Dylan Phillips each hit solo home runs in the top of the third to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Then, in the fourth, Kansas State sent 11 hitters to the plate and tallied five more runs to take a commanding 7-0 advantage.
"We're in survive and advance mode, so you've got to be really focused for the task at hand because there's no tomorrow," said Kansas State Head Coach Pete Hughes after the win. "I'm excited because at some point, Kansas State baseball has got to be in the conversation for the national tournament, and until today it hasn't."
Texas Tech would battle right back, scoring two in the bottom half of the fourth. The Red Raiders would then load the bases, but the eighth batter of the inning, Dillon Carter would ground out to first to strand three.
Each offense would cool off, and the pitchers would control the game from there on out, allowing Kansas State to remain in control.
Kasey Ford helped the Wildcats get out to their early lead by pitching 3.2 innings and allowing just two runs on one hit. Walks were ultimately what limited him in the effort, as Ford gave up five free bases on 81 pitches.
Tyler Eckberg came on with the bases loaded in a 2-0 count in the fourth inning, where he walked the first batter he faced, on just two pitches, but got out of the inning without further damage.
Following that, Eckberg was as good as it gets, holding Tech to just two hits in five innings, allowing no runs.
"That inning could have flipped really quick and he came in and he came in there and settled it down, made his pitch, but more importantly, threw up zeros all the way through the end against a really, really good offense," said Hughes of his reliever's performance. "He's the MVP of the game, that's for sure."
Eric Torres came in to record the final out of the ninth inning to solidify the win.
Kansas State improves to 33-22 on the season, inching just a little closer to a potential NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
"I'm going to fight for my guys because they're fighting for me, and I'm almost embarrassed to be fighting to get Kansas State baseball because we're not a brand baseball name, we are not in the conversation." said Hughes. "But I do believe there will be some integrity. The committee works their tails off and are thorough, I just hope they give us the real consideration that we deserve and our kids deserve."
The Wildcats will take on TCU for the fifth time in seven games on Saturday at 9a.m., if Kansas State can defeat the Frogs in that game, they would play a second time in the day. The "if necessary game" would begin at 4p.m. on ESPN+.