K-State Knocks Off No. 12 OU in Big 12 Championship Opener

Kyle Hunter

May 25, 2011

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.Ross Kivett singled on a full-count, two-out pitch in the ninth inning to drive in the go-ahead run and James Allen collected his 16th save of the year as Kansas State topped No. 12 Oklahoma, 5-4, Wednesday in the final game of the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at RedHawks Field at Bricktown.

It was Kivett’s second game-winning hit in the past week after singling home a run in the bottom of the 10th last Friday against Kansas.

Kansas State, winner of seven of its last eight games, improved to 35-21 and advanced to a 7:30 p.m., matchup Thursday against Texas A&M in the double-elimination tournament. The Wildcats earned their third win of the season against the Sooners – the most since 1990 – as OU fell to 40-16 on the year.

With the game tied at 4-4 in the eighth inning, K-State reliever Evan Marshall (5-5) surrendered a leadoff double to Tyler Ogle, putting the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. After Ogle moved to third on a ground out, Ricky Eisenberg grounded to Tanner Witt at short, who threw out Ogle at the plate trying to score. On the very next pitch, catcher Dan Klein threw out Eisenberg attempting to steal second, ending the Sooner threat.

Klein got K-State's winning rally started in the ninth when he singled with one out and advanced to second on a passed ball. He then moved to third when Jake Brown grounded out, bringing up Kivett. The freshman worked the count full before stroking an inside pitch through the left side of the infield to put the Cats up 5-4.

K-State relief ace Allen walked OU's Cameron Seitzer to open the ninth and Seitzer moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Allen then fanned pinch-hitter Casey Johnson before intentionally walking Cody Reine with two outs. The right-hander forced pinch-hitter Elliott Blair to fly out to right, sending K-State into the winner’s bracket of Division Two.

“It was a very good ball game – well played, well pitched,” head coach Brad Hill said. “(Oklahoma’s Jordan) John was outstanding. He did a great job of coming in and stopping us. He was really outstanding. Kyle Hunter, after those four runs, really settled in for us. He kept his composure, competed extremely hard. Throwing up those zeros after that gave us the opportunity to come back.”

Kivett tallied four hits to tie his career high and also drove in two runs. Jason King, who went 2-for-4, recorded the 47th double of his career to tie for sixth in school history.

“It was a great effort by Ross,” Hill said. “He’s got a sprained ankle, so we weren’t sure if we were even going to play him. I’d classify him as being pretty tough. He competes extremely hard up there and he likes being up there in big situations. He proved that once he got into the starting lineup about six weeks ago.”

K-State starting pitcher Kyle Hunter had his best performance since an April 10 outing against Oklahoma, working seven innings and allowing four runs on seven hits with a walk and nine strikeouts. Hunter’s strikeout total was his second-highest this season and the most against a Big 12 opponent in his career.

Marshall earned his first win since May 3 against Cal State-Bakersfield and his first against a Big 12 team since April 10 against Oklahoma. Allen improved his Kansas State single-season saves record to 16 and his career record to 30. A First Team All-Big 12 selection, Allen is now tied for the Big 12 lead in saves this year and tied for sixth in Big 12 history in career saves.

John (4-1) suffered the loss after pitching 4.1 scoreless innings of relief until K-State tied the game in the seventh inning. Oklahoma was paced offensively by Ogle, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI.

Kansas State jumped ahead with three runs in the second inning off OU starter Michael Rocha, taking advantage of a two-out error and two-straight RBI singles by Brown and Kivett. Oklahoma then brought in John, who recorded a strikeout to get out of the frame.

The OU offense came to life in the third when Ogle punched a two-RBI single through the middle and Cameron Seitzer singled to right with two outs to tie the game at 3-3. With runners on the corners and Caleb Bushyhead at the plate, Seitzer took off for second base and stayed in a rundown long enough to score another run to put the Sooners ahead 4-3.

The Wildcats tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh on a RBI groundout by Kent Urban after Kivett doubled to put runners at second and third with two outs.

Kansas State and Texas A&M will meet in the winner’s side of the Division Two bracket at 7:30 p.m., Thursday night at RedHawks Field at Bricktown. The game can be heard on the K-State Sports Network, while live online video is available at www.big12sports.com.