K-State Beats OU to Open Big 12 Championship

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TULSA, Okla.
-- Colton Kalmus matched his career-high in strikeouts with six while Max Brown went 4-for-4 with a pair of two-out RBIs as six-seed K-State opened its trip to the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship with a 7-3 win over third-seeded Oklahoma on Wednesday at ONEOK Field.

The Wildcats (27-28) notched their third win in the opening game of the postseason tournament in their last four trips with the help of a five-run lead through the third inning. K-State scored a run in the first, two in the second and another two in the third, building an insurmountable lead over the Sooners (32-26).

"I thought we just came out ready to play," said K-State head coach Brad Hill. "We were right on fire from the start. [Carter] Yagi gets us going with a base hit [in the first]. We do a hit-and-run right away. Coach [Andy] Sawyers does a great job getting aggressive with a hit-and-run. Again, we just got momentum on our side early. Offensively is where it all started."

Kalmus, in his first career Big 12 tournament start, cruised through his first five innings of work, surrendering just a single baserunner in the first, second, fourth and fifth. Meanwhile, he had five strikeouts in the first two frames, including the side in the second, as he evened his personal-best of six set earlier this year on February 14 vs. George Mason in Port Charlotte, Florida.

"I was out of the stretch the whole game," said Kalmus. "I just felt more comfortable doing that today. I didn't want to get behind by going to the windup, which I wasn't comfortable with. I just knew that they like to swing, so I knew if I filled up the [strike] zone, then I was going to have a good day."

Kalmus only ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed solo home runs to Taylor Alspaugh and Anthony Hermelyn that made it 5-2. The redshirt sophomore was lifted from the game following Hermelyn's homer in favor of Jordan Floyd, who went on to record his first career save after allowing just one run in 3 2/3 innings pitched.

K-State wasted little time in responding to the Sooners' pair of runs as Brown produced his 21st and 22nd two-out RBIs of the season with a bases-loaded single in the seventh. The Wildcats started the threat when the third error of the game by Oklahoma allowed Carter Yagi to reach with one out. Tyler Wolfe followed with a hit by pitch, the third time the junior reached safely in the game, and Shane Conlon drew a walk to load the bases. After Tyler Moore hit an infield fly in foul territory near first base, Brown delivered a two-out single into center to score Yagi and Wolfe and make it 7-2 Wildcats.

Floyd allowed the run in the seventh when Oklahoma rattled off three singles among its four batters of the frame, with Alspaugh's RBI single producing the run. The left-hander then walked the leadoff batter in the eighth, but he induced a double play and a groundout to end the frame before working around a two-out single in the ninth to end the game.

The save by Floyd was the first by a K-State pitcher since Brandon Courville recorded his first career save on April 26 at Baylor.

In addition to Brown, Yagi turned in a multi-hit effort, his 15th of the year. The senior went 2-for-5 with two runs scored out of the leadoff spot. His first run came in the first when he opened the game with a single and later advanced to third on a hit-and-run executed by the next batter, Wolfe. Conlon subsequently plated Yagi as Oklahoma traded two outs for a run with a double play.

"That was really important," said Brown about the run in the first. "It's huge to score runs early and keep the momentum on our side. Like coach said, we just came out swinging from the get-go and put the pressure on them."

Brown scored the first of the two runs in the second when he opened the inning with a double into the right-center field gap. Alex Bee was issued a free pass before Clayton Dalrymple pulled a ball through the left side to score Brown and make it 2-0. Dalrymple later scored in the inning when OU's first error of the game, on a groundball hit by Jake Wodtke, allowed the junior to score from second base.

Tyler Moore produced one of two RBIs for the Wildcats in the third with a double. The two-base hit, Moore's 12th of the year, drove in Wolfe, who was issued a walk by Adam Choplick to open the inning. Bee later plated Moore from third with a fielder's choice to make it 5-0.

Oklahoma starting pitcher Jake Elliott was charged with the loss, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks in two innings pitched.

K-State will play next on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., taking on the winner of Wednesday's final game between two-seed Oklahoma State and seventh-seeded West Virginia.

K-State improved its all-time record in the Big 12 Championship tournament to 14-14. Since 2011, the Wildcats are 6-5 in conference postseason play.

The Wildcats have faced Oklahoma four times in the Big 12 tournament since 2011, going 3-1. K-State, meanwhile, is 2-2 against the Sooners in 2015, outscoring them, 18-12.

The Wildcats improved their record to 16-3 this season when their opponent commits two or more errors in a game. K-State, which had no errors on Wednesday, also improved to 14-9 when it goes errorless in a game.