Cats Fall But Clinch Big 12 Tourney Berth

WACO, Texas Kansas State and Baylor traded big innings early but a four-run Bear fourth and the relief pitching of Willie Kempf proved to be the difference as the Wildcats dropped their second straight in the series, 13-7, Saturday night at Baylor Ballpark.


However, with Kansas’ loss to Nebraska on Saturday night, the Wildcats clinched a berth in the Big 12 Tournament next week in Oklahoma City, Okla. With the loss, Kansas State dropped to 33-21 overall and 10-15 in Big 12 play, while Baylor improved to 30-24 and 11-15.


After Saturday’s action, the Big 12 standings saw some changes with one game remaining as K-State now finds itself in eighth place at 10-15, while Baylor and Oklahoma are tied for sixth at 11-15. Kansas and Texas Tech have been eliminated from participating in the Big 12 Tournament.


Baylor jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one as Beemer Weems’ two-run triple and a sacrifice fly from Dustin Dickerson gave the Bears the early lead. But, the Cats answered with three runs of their own in the second as an Eddie Vasquez single down the line in left and Derek Bunker’s two-out single to center plated the tying runs as K-State and Baylor were even at three after one and a half innings.


The Bears then regained the lead in the bottom half of the second as Raynor Campbell lifted a solo homer to left off Hurley to give Baylor a 4-3 advantage. Tyler Ruch’s sacrifice fly in the top of the third tied the game at four as Byron Wiley walked and Nate Tenbrink reached on a bunt single. Both runners then moved up a base as pitcher Kendall Volz’s throw to get Tenbrink at first sailed wide.


But, Baylor again answered with two more runs in the third as back-to-back hits chased starter Trevor Hurley from the game. A.J. Morris came in and got three straight fly outs, two of which were sacrifice flies, as Baylor took a 6-4 lead.


K-State added three runs in the fourth to take a 7-6 lead as two Baylor errors and RBI’s from Bunker and Tenbrink highlighted the frame. Three Wildcat errors in the fourth and a couple RBI-singles from the Bears led to four unearned runs and a 10-7 Baylor advantage after just four innings.


Both teams got solid middle relief as K-State’s A.J. Morris and Baylor’s Willie Kempf slowed down the scoring in the final five innings. Kempf (2-2) took the win after striking out seven and allowing just three hits in 5.0 innings. Morris (4-2) suffered the loss after giving up six runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits in 5.1 innings.


The Bears added two runs in the eighth to up their lead to 13-7 as two RBI-singles off Jason Linn provided the scoring. K-State threatened in the ninth as it loaded the bases with no outs, but Baylor closer Nick Cassavechia entered the game and got three straight strikeouts to end the game.


Wiley, Tenbrink and Vasquez each had two hits for the Wildcats to lead the offense. Kansas State and Baylor wrap the series with a 1 p.m. matchup at Baylor Ballpark.