Kansas R-Sophomore catcher #21 Jake English connects for a 3-run home run during the game against Wichita State University on Wednesday, March 8.

Looking to bounce back following a one-run loss in the first game of the Sunflower Showdown, Kansas baseball took the field, after two rain delays, with junior right-hander Sam Ireland taking the mound. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks could not bounce back after allowing two early home runs and dropped the second game of the series 6-1.

To start out, Ireland walked the first batter he faced, who then advanced to second on a wild pitch. After two quick outs, the Wildcats’ cleanup hitter, junior shortstop Nick Goodwin, made Ireland pay for his mistake as he drove a two-run home run to left center field.

With junior right-hander German Fajardo starting the game for Kansas State, the Jayhawks went quickly in their half of the first, recording three outs in a row on balls that didn’t leave the infield.

Ireland battled through a long at-bat forcing a fly out, then ending the second at-bat with a three-pitch strikeout. Settling in, he finished the top of the second by forcing a groundout, recording a 1-2-3 inning.

Once again, the Jayhawks failed to get on base, recording three straight outs to send it to the second.

After battling to force a pop-up to second, Ireland gave up his second home run of the game to redshirt freshman designated hitterKyan Lodice, increasing the Wildcats’ lead to 3-0 in the top of the third. After allowing more traffic on the basepaths, Ireland induced a flyout to end the threat.

In the bottom of the third, the Jayhawks finally got their first base runner of the game thanks to a full-count walk by freshman third baseman Cooper Kelly. But after he got on with one out, the next two batters skied pop-ups to record the last two outs of the inning, stranding the runner and keeping the score at 3-0.

Control got the best of Ireland once again, as he walked the first batter of the fourth and gave up a single to the next Wildcats hitter. A foul out bunt to the catcher, redshirt sophomore Jake English, almost resulted in a double play, but the shortstop could not read the hop correctly and was unable to complete the play. A flyout and strikeout by Ireland finished out the inning anyways, with no damage done.

After a groundout to start the Kansas half of the fourth, senior first basemanCole Elvis got the Jayhawks’ first hit of the night with a sharp double down the left-field line. With two outs in the inning, English walked to put two men on, but both runners were stranded on a soft groundout to the second baseman, which resulted in a close play at first to end the inning.

By the top of the fifth, Ireland had settled in, recording two quick flyouts. He began to walk toward the Jayhawks dugout after what he, and the fans, believed to strike three, but the umpire disagreed, which extended the inning for Kansas State. Giving up a single to the batter on the next pitch, Ireland remained unphased, ending the inning on a popup.

In an exciting bottom of the fifth, Kansas finally scored its first run of the game. After recording an out, Kelly doubled, and redshirt sophomore center fielder Mike Koszewksi singled. A throwing error by Kansas State’s third baseman scored Kelly and allowed Koszewski to advance to second. But with one runner on and one out, the Jayhawks were unable to add more runs to the board as they recorded two outs in a row.

With 91 pitches already thrown, Ireland returned to the mound for the top of the sixth. After two flyouts, a sharp groundball ricocheted off his leg to redshirt sophomore shortstop Jackson Cobb, who threw to first, but after review, the runner was called safe. With a runner on, Ireland then walked the next batter on five pitches, resulting in junior left-hander Ethan Bradford taking over on the mound with Kansas’ starter at 108 pitches. Bradford walked the first three batters he faced, forcing in a run each with the second and third free passes— he threw only two of his 14 pitches for strikes during his time on the mound. After the third walk, head coach Dan Fitzgerald called on the bullpen once again and brought in junior left-hander Stone Hewlett, who was able to stop the damage with a called strikeout.

Finally knocking out Kansas’ starter, junior left-hander Blake Corsentino took the mound to begin the second half of the seventh. Giving the Jayhawks a bit of hope after their disastrous top of the sixth, Elvis led off with a single, which was his second hit of the day. A hit by pitch put two men on with no outs, but back-to-back called strikeouts and a diving catch by the Wildcats’ left fielder stranded both runners as the Jayhawks failed to score.

Junior right-hander Kolby Dougan replaced Hewlett on the mound to start the seventh. After striking out the first batter, Kansas State doubled and reached on a dropped third strike, but Dougan buckled down and prevented the Wildcats from extending their lead.

Although Kelly reached on a wild pitch for a called third strike, he would be stranded with three straight outs from the Jayhawks’ offense.

Following this, Dougan had a three up, three down inning to bring the Jayhawks’ heart of the order up in the bottom of the eighth.

Goodwin began the inning by reaching on an error by Kelly and then advanced to second on a wild pitch two batters later. With two outs, the Wildcats scored their sixth run of the game on a full-count single. 

Sophomore right-hander Tyson Neighbors took the mound for Kansas State to close out the game. He struck out the first two batters he faced on three pitches each and forced a pop-up to third, ending the game.

With Saturday night’s loss, the Jayhawks fall to 17-17 on the season and 5-6 in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas will take the field at Hoglund Ballpark again on Sunday, April 16, at 1 p.m. to close out the Sunflower Showdown series. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.