K-State Mounts Comeback, Takes Sunflower Showdown




20-31-1 (6-14 Big 12)

26-26 (8-13 Big 12)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KU 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 8 2
KST 0 0 1 1 3 2 0 1 X 8 10 3
W: Jones (2-0) L: Goldsberry (0-7) S: Benenati (6)
  • Time of Game: 2:51
  • First Pitch: 1:04 pm
  • Temperature: 65 F
  • Wind: NE 5-10
  • Attendance: 2,331

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State overcame an early 4-0 deficit to KU on Sunday and beat the Jayhawks, 8-5, at Tointon Family Stadium to take the Sunflower Showdown series for the sixth time over the last seven seasons.

The Wildcats (26-26, 8-13 Big 12) had six extra-base hits and 10 hits total to help stage the comeback, with two doubles by Tyler Wolfe keying a run in the fourth and a go-ahead, three-run frame in the fifth. Tyler Moore’s home run, meanwhile, in the sixth provided the decisive run.

After not having any extra-base hits among its seven hits in the series-opening loss on Friday, the Wildcats totaled 28 hits, including 13 of the extra-base variety, over the final two games.

In addition to overcoming Sunday’s deficit, K-State captured its first series against KU (20-31-1, 6-14) after losing the opener since 1995.

“We showed great resiliency today,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Moore’s homer in the sixth may have provided the necessary difference for K-State’s 15th home win of the year, but the Wildcats took their first lead of the game in the fifth when Wolfe hit a two-run double off KU starting pitcher Blake Weiman to make it 5-4 K-State. Wolfe’s two-base hit capped the three-run fifth, with one of KU’s two errors in the game allowing the Wildcats to score the initial run. 

After KU chased K-State starting pitcher Corey Fischer in the third, four Wildcat relievers restricted the Jayhawks to one run over the final six innings. Lucas Benenati led the way for the bullpen as he turned in a three-inning save and closed out the Wildcats’ 10th win over their last 14 games.

“Great credit to our relief corps, coming in and keeping the score down,” said Hill.

The save for Benenati was his sixth of the season and second over his last three opportunities that required multiple innings of work. His six saves are also the most by a Wildcat since 2013.

The Jayhawks established their four-run lead in the early going via a three-run home run by Colby Wright in the first and a sacrifice fly by Michael Tinsley in the third. The homer by Wright, the first of his two, was preceded by a K-State error to start the game and a two-out walk drawn by Tinsley. The third-inning run was set up after Joe Moroney and Matt McLaughlin started the frame with back-to-back singles.

Weiman faced the minimum for the first 2 1/3 innings of his outing, but a triple by Josh Ethier in the third sparked the K-State offense. Ethier was eventually plated on a groundout by Michael Smith to make it 4-1 KU.

In the fourth, Jake Scudder made it a two-run disadvantage for the Wildcats by driving in Wolfe, who reached with a leadoff double. 

Following back-to-back scoreless innings thrown by Jordan Floyd and Brandon Erickson in the fourth and fifth, the Wildcats staged their fifth-inning threat when Brooks Zimmerman and Josh Ethier drew back-to-back walks to start the frame. Zimmerman reached with a walk after seeing seven pitches from Weiman while Ethier battled through a 10-pitch at-bat to put runners on first and second. After Smith failed to sacrifice both runners into scoring position, Clayton Dalrymple delivered the first hit of the inning, a single to center. The Wildcats originally held Ethier at third on the single, but an errant throw by KU center fielder Joven Afenir allowed Ethier to score and put runners at second and third for Wolfe’s go-ahead double.

“Just scoring one (in the third) and one (in the fourth) – we needed some momentum,” said Hill. “Finding a way to just get one and one kept us in the game. Then we finally broke out. Ethier’s at-bat (in the fifth) was tremendous. It was the at-bat of the game. (It) showed some toughness and some grit.”

Wright hit his second home run of the day in the sixth off Erickson to even the score at 5-5, but a first-pitch homer by Moore to open the bottom half of the frame quickly returned the advantage back to the Wildcats. The home run by Moore, his fourth of the year but first since April 9, was against KU’s first reliever used, Blake Goldsberry. The right-hander then surrendered a triple to Quintin Crandall, one of two triples hit by the Wildcats in the game, before he was lifted in favor of Stephen Villines. Crandall eventually scored on a squeeze bunt executed by Ethier.

Crandall provided an insurance run for the Wildcats in the eighth when he drove in Scudder with a double off the wall in left to make it 8-5. Scudder had reached base with a single, one of his two on the day and seventh hit of the series.

KU was able to put runners on base in each of Benenati’s three frames, including a leadoff walk in the ninth. The K-State senior, though, started a double play on a groundball hit by Tinsley to get the first two outs of the final inning. He then induced a fly out to center by Wright to complete K-State’s second win this year when it trailed by at least four runs (April 23 vs. Baylor).

Nick Jones, who worked around two K-State errors in the sixth, picked up his second win of the season after holding the Jayhawks scoreless in his 2/3 innings pitched.

The Wildcats will complete their regular season with a three-game set at TCU Thursday-Saturday.

With the win and Baylor’s loss to TCU, K-State moved into seventh place in the Big 12 standings with one weekend remaining. The Wildcats hold the tiebreaker over the Bears (won the series) while they also have a 1.5-game lead over KU to remain in the top eight spots that qualify for the Big 12 Baseball Championship in Oklahoma City.

The Wildcats have won four of their last five weekend series, including their last two at home.

In addition to winning six of the last seven regular season series against KU, the Wildcats are 16-7 against the Jayhawks since 2010.

Clayton Dalrymple registered his team-leading 24th multi-hit game of the season by going 2-for-4. The senior now has 71 hits this season, the most by a Wildcat since 2013.

K-State has hit 29 home runs this year, its most since 2013 when it also had 29.