For only the third time in the all-time series, the No. 7 Texas Longhorns lost to the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan, losing 8-1 on Friday at Tointon Family Stadium in one of the worst efforts of the season.
Texas only managed three hits and committed two errors, combining poor days at the plate and in the field with more struggles from the bullpen.
With first baseman Ivan Melendez out of the lineup with shoulder discomfort after his injury sliding into home on Thursday night, as well as left fielder Eric Kennedy, still out with a sore hamstring, Kansas State got on the board first. After retiring the first batter in the second inning, right-hander Tristan Stevens hit the second batter, then gave up a single, double, and sacrifice fly as the Wildcats got out to a 2-0 lead.
A leadoff single and a walk put Kansas State right-hander Blake Adams under pressure in the third as second baseman Mitchell Daly advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, but left fielder Dylan Campbell and center fielder Douglas Hodo III both struck out to end the threat.
The single by first baseman Gavin Kash was the only hit for the Longhorns in the first five innings in an anemic performance impacted by the wind blowing in from left field and a strong performance by Adams, the most talented starter on the Wildcats pitching staff.
The weather conditions at Tointon Family Stadium on Friday marked a stark contrast to Thursday, when the two teams combined for seven home runs, several of which were clearly wind aided.
How bad were things going for the Longhorns? Even right fielder Murphy Stehly was struggling to extend his 20-game hitting streak, striking out in the sixth inning as Hodo stole second, but both players were ruled out when Stehly walked in front of the Kansas State catcher and was called for interference. Stehly went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts hitting in the three hole in place of Melendez.
Meanwhile, Stevens was at least keeping the Longhorns in the game after the second inning, working with his typical pace and efficiency with largely strong feel for his sinker and his slider, until a walk, single, and another single put another run on the board in the sixth inning.
In the seventh, Ardoin was able to cut through the wind with a solo blast to left field on an elevated 2-1 fastball, his sixth home run of the season.
What wind? @SilasArdoin4 annihilates a baseball and we’re on the board!#HookEm pic.twitter.com/QVIPnCNrRO— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) April 16, 2022
Kash eventually followed with a two-out double, but the Horns weren’t able to further narrow the lead when shortstop Trey Faltine was barely thrown out on a ground ball.
Stevens exited with one out in the seventh inning in favor of right-hander Coy Cobb with a runner on first. Just like right-hander Jared Southard did on Thursday in relief, Cobb immediately allowed a home run, a two-run shot by Dominic Johnson, finalizing the stat line for Stevens — four runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings with one strikeout and one walk. It was only the third run of the season allowed by Cobb in his 10th appearance.
The issues on the mound continued in the eighth inning as right-hander Lebarron Johnson Jr. entered the game. Johnson allowed a full-count single to the first batter, but was able to induce a flyout and then had the baserunner picked off at first base, but committed a throwing error. A full-count walk put another runner on base before the defense let Johnson down as Faltine bobbled a potential double-play ball and committed a throwing error trying to get the runner at second. After a bunt single initially ruled an out but overturned on replay and a single to center, Johnson was pulled in favor of right-hander Joshua Stewart, who gave up the inning’s third run on a sacrifice fly as Kansas State took an 8-1 lead.
Texas tries to avoid the sweep at 4 p.m. Central on Saturday on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.