K-State Holds On Against OU to Advance in Big 12 Championship
May 27, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – James Allen struck out the final two batters with the tying run at second base in the ninth inning as Kansas State defeated No. 12 Oklahoma, 4-3, Friday night in an elimination game at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at RedHawks Field at Bricktown.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats, now 2-1 in the tournament, improved to 36-22 on the year and advanced to play against No. 2 seed Texas A&M at 12:30 p.m., Saturday. K-State, which has won eight of its last 10 games, defeated Oklahoma for a fourth time this season, the most wins against the Sooners in a season since 1990.
Oklahoma was eliminated from the Big 12 Championship and fell to 41-17 on the season.
Allen, K-State's season and career saves leader, entered the game in the ninth and surrendered a leadoff single to Caleb Bushyhead, who moved to second and into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Then, in one of the highlight moments of the tournament, Eric Ross and Allen dueled through an extraordinary at-bat during which Ross forced Allen to throw 15 pitches – 13 of which Ross hit foul – to bring the count to 1-2. On the 16th pitch and the crowd roaring, Allen struck out Ross swinging then ended the game by fanning Casey Johnson to set up a rematch against Texas A&M on Saturday.
“It was just a great battle, a great game,” head coach Brad Hill said. “The at-bat with Ross was just phenomenal – his competitiveness and the crowd all of a sudden got energized – and for James to fight that off and keep making pitches, it was a great battle between both of them and James ended up winning it.”
Allen recorded his 17th save of the season and the 31st of his career, extending his school records in both categories. It was his second save against the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship and his third against OU this year. Allen is now tied for fourth in Big 12 history in career saves.
“I was just trying to keep it as simple as possible,” Allen said about his battle with Ross. “If you think about other things, your success rate decreases a lot. I was just trying to hook up with (catcher Dan) Klein and make a pitch.”
Evan Marshall pitched three solid innings in relief, working with runners on base in each frame. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts, and he forced Oklahoma to strand a pair of runners on base to keep the lead in favor of the Wildcats.
Matt Giller did not record an official at-bat in his four plate appearances for the Wildcats, but he collected two RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the first inning to tie the game at 1-1 and a squeeze bunt in the third to give the Cats a 2-1 lead.
Red-hot Jason King went 3-for-4, extending his hitting streak to a career-long 15 games, the longest by a Wildcat since Adam Muenster held a 25-game streak last season. The third baseman is 9-for-12 in the Big 12 Championship, leading all players in hits and ranking second in batting average.
Starting pitcher Shane Conlon (4-1) picked up the win, allowing a two-run single by Cameron Seitzer in the first and a RBI base hit by Evan Mistich in the fourth.
OU starter Dillon Overton (8-4) was saddled with the loss, surrendering all four runs on six hits in 4.1 innings of work. The Sooners were paced offensively by Seitzer, who was 3-for-4 with a RBI.
Oklahoma tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth on Mistich's single, but K-State added two runs in the fifth. Mike Kindel drew a bases-loaded walk with one out to make the score 3-2. That brought up Tanner Witt, who put down a bunt in front of home plate that was fielded by OU catcher Tyler Ogle. Ogle was ruled not to have touched home plate before throwing to first to complete an attempted double play, allowing King to score K-State's fourth run.
Marshall came into the game with a runner on first in the sixth inning and struck out Seitzer, but Mistich singled to put runners on first and second with one out. The right-hander coaxed a double-play ball to get out of the inning and keep the lead at 4-2.
The Sooners added a run in the seventh when Marshall walked leadoff man Cale Ellis, who moved to third on a base hit by Ross to left field. Kent Urban threw errantly to third on the play, allowing Ellis to score and cutting the lead to 4-3. With Ross at second as the tying run, Johnson grounded out to short for the first out of the inning. Ross was then gunned down by Klein attempting to steal third and Marshall struck out Garrett Buechele to end the frame.
Kansas State and Texas A&M will meet for the second time in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Aggies won the first matchup, 4-1, on Thursday. The Wildcats would have to beat A&M twice on Saturday to advance to Sunday's championship game. Should K-State win the 12:30 p.m., game, the two teams would meet at either 4 p.m., or 7:30 p.m., depending on the outcome of the Texas-Missouri matchup Saturday morning.