Morris Powers Cats to Victory

MANHATTAN, Kan. A Tointon Family Stadium record crowd of 4,280 saw Kansas State’s A.J. Morris toss his fourth complete game of the season as the 11th-ranked Wildcats took game one of a three-game Big 12 Conference series against rival Kansas, 4-1, Friday night.

 

With the win, Kansas State earned its school-record 14th conference win and moved to 39-13-1 overall and 14-9-1 in Big 12 play. Kansas fell to 35-19 overall and 13-12 in conference action.

 

The Wildcats surpassed the 2002 squad for the most conference wins in school history, which went 13-13 en route to its first Big 12 tournament appearance. Friday's win also marked a school-record eighth-straight victory over the Jayhawks.

 

Morris (12-1) allowed KU's only run in the third inning on Buck Afenir's sacrifice fly, but was dominant the rest of the way. The right-hander sat down the Jayhawks in order in five of the final six innings, with KU only threatening in the eighth when Morris worked out of a jam with runners at first and third.

 

Morris struck out eight batters, the sixth time this season he fanned five or more in a game. The Humble, Texas, product's 12th win of the season extended his K-State season school record, while he moved into a tie for 10th place for single-season wins in Big 12 Conference history.

 

“Obviously it all starts on the mound,” said Coach Brad Hill. “A.J. kept his emotions in check in a couple of situations. He was just outstanding tonight.”

 

Justin Bloxom recorded two RBI on a single to jump-start a four-run sixth inning, while Adam Muenster and Drew Biery paced the Wildcats with two hits apiece.

 

Kansas starter Shaeffer Hall (4-5) took the loss after giving up three runs on five hits in 5.2 innings of work.

 

After managing just two hits in the first five innings, the Kansas State offense exploded in the sixth. Muenster led off the frame with a single to right-center field before Carter Jurica was hit by a pitch. Nick Martini followed with a bunt single to third base, loading the bases.

 

Bloxom was next and looped the first pitch he saw for a single into right-center field to score a pair of runs and give K-State the lead. Jason King then scorched a ball that deflected off Hall’s glove, allowing Martini to score as Hall threw to first.  But Hall's throw pulled Preston Land off the bag, allowing King to reach on an error.

 

The Cats took advantage of the extra out as Jordan Cruz skied a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right field to cap the inning before Morris cruised the rest of the way to seal the victory.

 

Brian Heere led KU with a 2-for-4 night and also recorded the lone stolen base of the evening.

 

Kansas State and Kansas continue their three-game conference series with a 6 p.m., first pitch on Saturday at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence.