Morris, Bloxom Pace Cats in 9-4 Win

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. A.J. Morris went six-plus innings for his 13th win of the season, while Justin Bloxom homered and drove in three runs, as 17th-ranked Kansas State defeated Baylor, 9-4, Thursday night in Big 12 Championship action at Bricktown Ballpark.


With the win, K-State (41-15-1) moved to 2-0 in the tournament and will face Texas on Saturday afternoon for the right to play in Sunday’s championship game. Baylor fell to 28-24 overall.

Morris (13-1) went 6.2 innings Thursday against the Bears, scattering nine hits and allowing four runs, while striking out seven and walking four. The junior battled all evening to earn his 13th victory of the season, tying for fifth place in Big 12 history for single-season wins.


Kansas State, which stole five bases in the contest, improved its season total to 142, breaking the single-season school record. The Cats surpassed the 1985 squad that swiped 138 bags.


Bloxom paced the Wildcats with a three-RBI game in a 2-for-4 effort. The junior hit his ninth home run of the season, a towering shot that left the stadium over the wall in right field. Nick Martini also tallied a two-hit game as the freshman was 2-for-5 with a stolen base.


Kansas State reliever Thomas Rooke recorded his best outing since May 5 as the left-hander threw two scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth innings with a walk and a strikeout.


K-State was able to strike in the first inning after an Adam Muenster single up the middle and a double down the left-field line by Martini put runners on second and third. Bloxom was next and dumped a 2-2 pitch into right-center to give the Cats a 2-0 lead.


Morris was able to work around a Dan Evatt leadoff double in the second as he struck out the next two batters and forced a fly out to escape the early threat.


Baylor was able to get a run back in the second inning when Joey Hainsfurther singled and went to third on a ground out and a fly out. Shaver Hansen was next and roped a single into center field to plate the Bears’ first run.


Kansas State extended its lead with a three-run fourth inning and, in the process, broke the school’s stolen base record. Drew Biery led off with a single and then swiped second base, giving Kansas State its record 139th stolen base of the season.


Jordan Cruz then worked a walk before Rob Vaughn drove home Biery on a single to center field for a 3-1 lead and moved Cruz to third.


The Wildcats then took advantage of a Baylor fielding error when Dane Yelovich attempted a safety squeeze that was bunted back to Willie Kempf. The Baylor hurler forced Cruz back to third base, but Kempf’s throw went down the left-field line, allowing both Cruz and Vaughn to score and push the lead to 5-1.


The K-State lead swelled to five in the seventh frame when Martini singled and Bloxom walked with two outs. Jason King was next and pulled a 2-1 pitch down the right-field line for a triple to extend the lead to 7-1.


The Bears would get back into the game with three runs in the bottom half of the seventh as Baylor sent eight men to the plate. BU loaded the bases to begin the inning on a pair of singles and a walk before Morris uncorked a wild pitch to plate one run.


Following a strikeout, Aaron Miller drove home a run on a groundout before another Morris wild pitch scored the third run of the inning.


Kansas State scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth, Muenster brought home Vaughn on a sacrifice fly before Bloxom’s homer in the ninth.


Kempf (4-5) was saddled with the loss for Baylor after giving up five runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings of work.


Following a day off on Friday, Kansas State will battle top-seeded Texas at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Bricktown Ballpark. The winner of that contest will win Pool 1 and advance to the title game of the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Sunday.