'Cats Come Back to Beat KU, 6-4
'Cats Come Back to Beat KU, 6-4
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- K-State erased a three-run deficit in the eighth inning and scored a pair of two-out runs in the ninth to complete a come-from-behind 6-4 win over Kansas on Saturday at Hoglund Ballpark to clinch the Sunflower Showdown series and a spot in the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.
The Wildcats (26-27, 10-13 Big 12) earned their seventh trip to the Big 12 postseason tournament in the last eight years by overcoming a 4-1 disadvantage after the seventh inning. KU starting pitcher Drew Morovick limited K-State to five hits in the first seven frames, but in the eighth, the Wildcats tallied three straight hits off the senior to start the rally. Tyler Wolfe, who had three hits in the game, chased Morovick from the contest by hitting an RBI single to score Jake Wodtke and make it 4-2. The Jayhawks brought in closer Stephen Villines following Wolfe's hit, but Shane Conlon worked a nine-pitch at-bat that resulted in a double, the first extra-base hit for the Wildcats on the afternoon, and scored Carter Yagi. After a fielder's choice by Tyler Moore loaded the bases, Max Brown hit into a double play for the first two outs of the eighth, but also helped bring in Conlon to tie the game at 4-4.
"Just a couple mistakes on [Morovick's] part," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "We get lucky, get inside the baseball and it finds itself just inside the foul line. There's your momentum. And then we get that followed up with two really good at-bats [by Wolfe and Conlon]. Shane's at-bat was phenomenal."
In the ninth, Yagi laced a two-out single through the right side of the infield to drive in Clayton Dalrymple for the game-winning run. Dalrymple, who matched Wolfe with a team-high three hits, sparked the inning with a leadoff hit by pitch issued by Villines. The junior was then moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Keith Browning, setting up Yagi's first game-winning RBI of the season. Wolfe made it a two-run inning when he followed up Yagi with a triple into the right-field corner to score the senior from second.
The pair of two-out runs in the ninth were two of the three by the Wildcats in the game. KU, meanwhile, scored all four of its runs with two outs.
Wolfe and Dalrymple combined for six of the 11 K-State hits, six of which were recorded over the final two innings. Yagi (2-for-5) joined the two juniors to make up a trio of Wildcats with multi-hit efforts.
While Morovick limited K-State to just one run in the first seven innings, K-State reliever Brandon Erickson kept the Wildcats in the game with five innings of one-run baseball. The right-hander inherited two runners in the third, allowing one to score and make it 3-0 KU, but he went on to retire nine of the 11 batters he faced over the fourth through sixth frames. In the seventh, Erickson surrendered a pair of doubles, with the last by Connor McKay hitting off the top of Yagi's glove at third as he leapt in the air in an attempt to catch the liner. The RBI by McKay brought the score to 4-1 Jayhawks.
"Erickson is really the key to the game because if he doesn't come in and get stops, we're out of it," said Hill. "I start with Brandon Erickson as the MVP of the game because he went into shutdown mode on them."
Lucas Benenati worked a scoreless eighth and ninth to earn his second career win. The right-hander hit a batter with two outs in the eighth, but catcher Alex Bee caught Matt McLaughlin stealing second base to end the inning while in the ninth, Benenati worked around two singles to close out the game.
K-State starting pitcher Jordan Floyd, making his first start of the season and third of his career, allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in his two-plus innings pitched. The sophomore faced two batters in the third, surrendering a walk and a single, before being lifted from the game.
Villines took the loss for KU, dropping to 3-5 on the year. The right-hander was responsible for two runs on three hits in two innings. He also allowed two inherited runners to score in the eighth, giving Morovick four runs surrendered in his seven-plus innings pitched of a no-decision.
"I just give Morovick a lot of credit," said Hill. "He just confused us all day. Made pitches when he had to, and then finally, we got the approach we needed. He got the ball elevated a couple of times late (in the game), and we finally got him."
Brown drove in the only run off Morovick in the early going with a two-out single in the fourth that scored Conlon and made it 3-1 KU. The RBI was Brown's third in the series, all of which have been recorded with two outs. The senior leads K-State with 20 two-out RBIs this season.
K-State will go for its second consecutive sweep in Lawrence on Sunday when the Wildcats take on the Jayhawks at 2 p.m. Right-hander Colton Kalmus will start for K-State, his 13th start of the year, and face KU right-hander Sean Rackoski. The Wildcats swept KU in Lawrence in 2013.
K-State has won five straight games at KU and eight of the last nine. Since 2007, the Wildcats are 10-3 in Lawrence.
Since April 29 at Minnesota, K-State is hitting .302 (103-for-341) with 57 walks and 76 runs scored over 10 games. The team also has a .409 OBP.
Tyler Wolfe's opposite-field single to lead off the fourth extended his on-base streak to a career-high 18 games. The junior's on-base streak is the second longest by a Wildcat this season (Shane Conlon, 22 games).