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Kansas State baseball bows out of Super Regional with consecutive losses at Virginia

In time, this will be remembered as one of the best seasons in the history of Kansas State baseball.

Right now, though, the Wildcats and their supporters are disappointed.

K-State fell painfully short of the College World Series when it suffered a 10-4 loss to Virginia on Saturday in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament at Disharoon Park in Charlottesville. This was the second game of a best-of-three series. After also losing the first contest 7-4 the Wildcats have been eliminated from the postseason.

Things came to a frustrating end for Pete Hughes and his team. The Bat Cats took an early lead in Game 1 and squandered it as the night went on. And even though they were never in control of Game 2 they fought the Cavaliers most of the way and had a chance to pull ahead multiple times in the late innings before Virginia pulled away with five runs in the ninth.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of all came in the fifth inning with Virginia leading 4-3. The Wildcats had a man on base with red hot slugger Kaelen Culpepper stepping up to the plate. A home run would have given them their first advantage of the afternoon. It almost happened, too.

Culpepper blasted a fly ball to the warning track. Had the ball traveled another few feet the Wildcats would have been celebrating like crazy. Instead, center fielder Bobby Whalen tracked the ball down for a very long out to preserve a lead for the Cavs.

Still, K-State was able to stay in the game via the long ball.

Brendan Jones creamed a home run to right field in the fifth inning, moments before Culpepper’s hit came up just short of the wall. Later, Kyan Lodice hit a home run that cleared the center-field wall in such a way that Whalen flipped over the fence after he was unable to make a miraculous catch.

Don’t be surprised if that shows up on this week’s “Not Top 10 Plays” segment on “Sportscenter.”

Jackson Wentworth gave K-State a chance by striking out five and only allowing four runs in six innings. But the Cavaliers scored in bunches after he exited.

A home run from Casey Saucke allowed Virginia to strike first and build a 2-0 run in the first inning. K-State quickly battled back and evened things up at 2-2 after two innings, but the Wildcats were never able to take the lead.

It was all Virginia late. The Cavaliers had an impressive final inning at the plate, as they scored five runs on four hits and two walks. The decisive hit came from Luke Hanson with the bases loaded. The infielder ripped a line drive just past third base for a double that scored all three base runners.

K-State trailed 5-4 when it entered the ninth inning but trailed 10-4 when it was over.

Virginia closed out the game with ease from there.

The Wildcats looked on with stone faces as the Cavaliers celebrated their pending trip to Omaha. This was a good season for K-State, as it won 35 games and reached a Super Regional for just the second time in program history. But it couldn’t make enough plays against Virginia.