NACOGDOCHES, Texas (kstatesports.com) – For the first time in 123-years of K-State baseball, the Wildcats led off the season with a four-game series sweep after defeating Stephen F. Austin, 16-5, on Monday evening. The series finale was highlighted by five total home runs including a pair of grand slams from Cole Johnson and Roberto Pena.
“Happy for our guys. They started hungry and finished a four-game series with conviction and urgency,” stated head coach Pete Hughes.
The Wildcats (4-0) are just one of two remaining undefeated programs in the Big 12 alongside nationally ranked No. 24 Texas Tech (4-0) while K-State’s 10 home runs from the weekend ranks first in the league.
“Plate disciplne was phenomenal all weekend. The walks crowded the bases and allowed our middle guys the opportunity to drive runs in all weekend. Today was no different. The middle of our order was awesome driving in 14 runs.”
“Once again, our relief pitching gave our offense the chance to build. Go Cats!”
HOW IT HAPPENED
K-State scored early and often on Monday with four different players registering home runs in the victory. After a scoreless first inning, Cole Johnson snapped the short shutout with his second home run of the series to take a 1-0 lead in the first.
The Cats continued to put pressure the Jacks’ after plating five runs in the third with Johnson’s grand slam. Brady Day was hit by a pitch before SFA walked two straight batters to load the bases where the Cats took full advantage of the situation. Johnson, a senior from Southlake, Texas, stayed hot at the plate as he unloaded on pitch from SFA’s Carter Hines to clear the bases for his first collegiate grand slam.
SFA shortly responded with a pair of runs in the second half of the inning but it didn’t take long for K-State to grab the reins of the series finale. With bases loaded for the second time, Kaelen Culpepper singled to short to score Cayden Phillips from third until the Jacks walked in another run to make it 7-2.
With two outs, Roberto Pena got in on the long ball action when the senior launched his second home run of the series clear past the left center wall to drive in four runs for the Cats second grand slam. The senior duo’s grand slams marked the first time since 2010 a pair of Wildcats recorded a grand slam since 2010.
The Jacks kept the game within single digits, 11-3, as Clayton Loranger crossed the plate on a wild pitch but momentum stayed in favor of the Cats in the final four innings.
Pena walked to reach base for the third time to bring Cash Rugely up to bat. The Round Rock, Texas native tallied the fourth home run to the book to extend the Cats lead out to 10, 13-3. A pair of runs in the sixth and seventh kept the Jacks in the game and prevented the run-rule to go into effect.
K-State kept its stride in the ninth inning when freshmen Jayden Lobliner and Carson Queck capitalized on a throwing error and walk to position runners on first and second. For the second straight day, Culpepper sent one deep and out into left center to pin the final three runs to the board, 16-5.
INSIDE THE BOX
- Blake Corsentino (1-0) was awarded the victory and allowed just one earned run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts through three complete innings
- Sophomore Dalton Beck earned the start in the finale throwing two inning with two earned runs, two hits, two walks and one strikeout in his K-State debut
- Kyler Heyne matched Corsentino throwing a game-high three innings
- Kaelen Culpepper and Cole Johnson led the Cats at the plate each going 3-for-5 at the plate while Johnson produced a series-high six RBI
- As a team, K-State produced 16 runs (13 earned) on 12 hits with two errors and 16 RBI through 37 at bats
- The Wildcats secured the programs first ever four-game series sweep during a season opening weekend
- Monday’s game marked the first time since 2010 where two different players hit grand slams in the same game; last multi-grand slam game was April 10, 2010 against Nebraska by Matt Giller and Kent Urban
- Johnson became the first Big 12 player this season to hit a pair of homers in a single-game
- K-State’s 4-0 start marks the best program start since 2011 with a series sweep over Pacific and win at Central Carolina
- K-State leads the all-time series 6-1 and remains undefeated in Nacogdoches, 5-0
- Head coach Pete Hughes moves to 753-584-3 overall and 102-92 at K-State
- The series finale marked the third time in the Hughes era where the Wildcats sent five out in a single-game, first since May 1, 2021 against Texas Southern
The Cats continue their preseason road trip in Texas on Wednesday, Feb. 22, when they make the journey to Beaumont to take on Lamar (3-0, 0-0 Southland). LU led off the season with a series sweep over Oakland with three one-run games including a 10-inning 6-5 opening day victory. The midweek game will be streamed live on ESPN+ while fans can tune-in and listen at kstatesports.com/watch or follow along on live stats.