Also See: Wildcats Battle Rain to Advance at West Regional
K-STATE FALLS TO TEXAS A&M AT BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Texas A&M right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha threw eight strong innings, helping the second-seeded Aggies post a 4-1 win over K-State in a winner's bracket game at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.
With the loss, K-State (35-22) falls to an elimination game on Friday night against No. 12 Oklahoma (41-16) at 7 p.m. The winner would have to defeat Texas A&M (40-18) twice on Saturday, beginning at 12:30 p.m., to advance to Sunday's championship game.
Wacha (7-3) allowed just one run on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in his eight innings. After a Jason King RBI double in the first inning, Wacha went on to retire 19 of the next 21 batters and faced just one over the minimum until Dan Klein double with one out in the eighth inning. After a ground out moved Klein to third, Wacha rebounded to strike out Ross Kivett to keep the Aggie lead at 3-1, which proved to be his final batter faced.
"It was pretty simple," said head coach Brad Hill. "Michael Wacha pretty much dominated tonight. We never could string together at-bats. We would get a couple of doubles and need a two-out hit to score them and never got it done. He made pitches when he had to make pitches. He would drop his breaking ball in for a strike. We didn't even swing at it, and he continued to drop it in for a strike. Once he was ahead 0-1, he would start going in and out on us. He was outstanding and dominated us today."
A&M's Nick Fleece worked around an infield single in the ninth to record his third save of the season.
Texas A&M strung together three two-out hits in the second inning off K-State starter Matt Applegate (5-4), including a RBI single by Brandon Wood and a run-scoring double off the right-field wall by Kenny Jackson to take a 2-1 lead.
In the third inning, Jacob House drove home a run and Texas A&M loaded the bases with one out, which prompted the 'Cats to turn to Justin Lindsey. The right-hander came in to record a strikeout and a fielder's choice to get out of the inning. Lindsey threw five scoreless frames after that to keep K-State in the game.
"He gave us a chance," said Hill of Lindsey. "He held it to 3-1 and forced them to throw up a lot of zeroes. Unfortunately, they did, but you couldn't let them extend the score there knowing their pitching staff. Justin was outstanding tonight. He had great command. He made big pitches when he had to. He really matched Wacha for that period of time."
Lindsey allowed just four hits in 5.2 innings of work with two walks and four strikeouts. He recorded the longest relief outing by a Wildcat since Thomas Rooke went 7.1 innings at Texas Tech in 2008.
King collected three of K-State's six hits against the Aggies. His first-inning double extended his hitting streak to a career-long 14 games, the longest by a Wildcat since Carter Jurica end his career on a 14-game hitting streak last season. He also registered his 48th career double to tie for fifth in school history.
King is 6-for-8 in his two Big 12 Championship games to rank second in the league in both average and hits.
Adam Smith led Texas A&M with a 2-for-3 effort. Charlie Curl drove in the final Aggie run in the ninth inning on a two-out infield single.
The Wildcats will battle the Sooners for the fifth time on Friday, looking to improve their resume for a possible bid to a NCAA Regional. The squad has won three of four meetings this season, the most vs. Oklahoma since 1990, including a 5-4 win in the opening day of the championship on Wednesday.
"It won't be very easy at all," said Hill. "The winner gets to survive. For us, it may be for next week (NCAA Regionals). It's going to be really important for us tomorrow to do everything we can to stay here, get one more win and keep hopes alive not only for this tournament but for next week."
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