Western Michigan baseball was swept by Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., to open the 2021 season.
The Broncos had a great start to the season Friday, as a four-run top of the fourth capped by a home run by Drew Devine, who was returning after missing the 2020 season with Tommy John surgery, got WMU the lead. Easton Sikorski was great through the first four innings on the mound, but a three-run home run in the fifth got the Wildcats back in the game. Sikorski would end with six hits and three runs allowed in five innings, striking out six batters without allowing a walk.
A Logan Hudson home run capped a three-run seventh inning that built WMU’s lead up to 8-4. Hayden Berg, in his collegiate debut, allowed a home run and two walks in the eighth inning to start a five-run rally for Kansas State as Dane Armbrustmacher allowed a game-tying home run to Nick Goodwin, the first batter he faced, and had a throwing error that allowed the Wildcats to take the lead.
WMU failed to score in the ninth and the game was over in a 9-8 loss. Armbrustmacher got credit for the loss on the mound.
Saturday’s game was worse from the start. Two runs in the bottom of the first started Kansas State on the path to building a 5-0 lead in the first five innings. Starter Brady Miller was chased after just three innings, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk. Miller struck out six batters but the Wildcats did too much damage when it got bats on balls.
A Cameron Thompson three-run homer made it 9-1 in favor of Kansas State in the seventh, and though the Broncos tried to build some momentum with two runs in the top of the eighth, WMU came up well short as the pitching could not stop Kansas State in the 11-3 loss. Brady Miller was credited with the loss for the Broncos.
Sunday’s game became a pitcher’s duel between Jack Huisman for WMU and Connor McCullough for Kansas State. Huisman allowed two runs in the fourth inning off of a walk, two hits and an error, and left the game after five innings allowing five hits, two runs, only one earned, one walk and three strikeouts. McCullough got through 5.1 innings, surrendering just three hits and a walk for one run while striking out six WMU batters.
Both bullpens took over and dominated from there, as WMU had Armbrustmacher and freshman Ryan Watt combine for three scoreless innings while Caleb Littlejim, who started all three games in center field for the Wildcats, pitched the final two innings to secure the win. Huisman ended up with the loss in spite of his strong performance on the mound Sunday.
Along with getting swept, more bad news came for Western Michigan as center fielder Blake Dunn left Friday’s game due to injury and did not return in the series. Connor Charping led the Broncos with five hits in the series, starting the year with a .417 batting average. Hudson had four hits, had a team-high four RBI and tied Justin McIntyre for the team lead in runs with three.
The Broncos head to St Louis next weekend for its next series where WMU will try to win its first game and series of the year. Game times will be Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.