Cruz's Walk-Off Hit Gives Cats Wins Record

MANHATTAN, Kan. A 10th-inning RBI double by Jordan Cruz gave No. 10 Kansas State its school-record 36th win of the season as the Wildcats defeated BYU, 9-8, Monday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.


The Cats, who collected their second walk-off win of the season, are now 36-11-1, while BYU fell to 24-20 with the loss.


K-State led comfortably, 7-2, through seven innings, but the Cougars mounted a comeback with four runs in the eighth and then used back-to-back solo home runs in the ninth to tie the game at 8-8 and send the contest to extra innings.


Thomas Rooke (5-1), entered the game in the ninth after BYU tied the score and shut down the Cougars, working around a two-out single in the 10th to get the K-State offense back to the plate.


Jason King received a one-out walk against BYU reliever Jordan Muir (0-2) to start off the 10th inning and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Drew Biery. Cruz, who doubled in his previous at-bat, immediately fell behind in the count 0-2. After fouling off a pitch, the senior stuck out his bat on an outside pitch and punched it down the left-field line, just out of the reach of left-fielder Sean McNaughton for the game-winner.


“It was nice to see a senior help us get that school record,” Coach Brad Hill said. “It (school record) is done and over. Congratulations to these guys for how hard they’ve worked and the consistent play they’ve had all year long, but now it’s time to move on and extend that.”


Cruz, Carter Jurica and Nick Martini collected two hits apiece, while Martini drove in a team-high two runs. Rooke recorded his fifth win of the season after pitching two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out two.


The Wildcats received a solid start from senior Todd Vogel, who allowed two runs on five hits. The right-hander tied a season high with five innings pitched and recorded a season-best five strikeouts.


Three different BYU hitters Kent Walton, Michael Bowen and Kasey Ko recorded three hits and two RBI apiece.


BYU cracked the scoreboard first when the first two batters of the game singled, putting runners on first and third. Walton hit a RBI groundout to short to put the Cougars up 1-0, but Vogel was able to pitch around any further damage.


Kansas State took the lead with three runs in the third inning. Dane Yelovich recorded a one-out walk and, after a strikeout, Jurica hammered a 0-2 pitch off the right center-field wall for a RBI triple, his second of the season.


Martini followed with a double down the left-field line scoring Jurica, giving the Cats a 2-1 lead. Justin Bloxom was next and struck out, but the ball bounced away from BYU catcher Chad Nacapoy. When Nacapoy attempted to throw out Bloxom at first, his throw sailed down the right-field line, allowing Martini to score from second.


Ko pulled BYU to within a run in the top of the fifth with a one-out solo homer over the wall in deep center field.


The Cats rebounded to put up another three-spot in the bottom half of the inning, utilizing a walk to Yelovich, a double by Adam Muenster and consecutive sacrifice flies from Martini and Bloxom to grab a 6-2 advantage.


Kansas State tacked on another run in the seventh when Martini singled through the right side and moved to third on a Bloxom double down the left-field line. King brought Martini home on a sacrifice fly that was caught against the left-field wall, pushing K-State to a 7-2 lead.


That extra run proved important when the Cougars plated four runs in the eighth inning off reliever James Allen to get within 7-6. McNaughton doubled and came around to score on a triple by Walton. Steve Parker then dropped in another extra-base hit, a bloop double into left to score Parker and knock Allen out of the game.


Evan Marshall came on in relief and forced a groundout for the second out of the frame, but then surrendered a two-run homer to Bowen over the wall in left center-field.


Kansas State scored an insurance run in the eighth when Cruz ripped a leadoff double into left and scored when Rob Vaughn singled through the right side of the infield. 


That run also proved to be valuable as BYU received consecutive solo home runs in the ninth from Ko and Nacapoy to tie the game at 8-8 and send it into extra innings.


Kansas State concludes its two-game conference series against BYU on Tuesday at Tointon Family Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m., with a special Cinco de Mayo celebration prior to the game. The special-edition tailgate begins at 5 p.m., beyond the left-field wall with $2 Coronas, while supplies last. It’s also a Quarter Hot Dog Night and a “T-Shirt Tuesday” as the first 150 fans into the stadium will receive a free t-shirt.