OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A third Kansas State rally of the afternoon ended just short as Kyle Hayes came out of the Oklahoma bullpen to strike out two Wildcats with the bases loaded in the 11th inning, sending the 24th-ranked Sooners to a 7-6 win over No. 15 Kansas State Saturday during the final round of pool play at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Bricktown Ballpark.
The fourth-seeded Sooners improved to 39-19 on the year and will advance to Sunday’s title game against either No. 3-seed West Virginia, sixth-seeded Kansas or No. 7-seed TCU. K-State fell to 41-17 and finished the Big 12 Championship with a 2-1 record.
For a second-consecutive day, Kansas State scored multiple runs in the ninth inning to erase a deficit. OU built a 5-1 lead as K-State was down to its final three outs, but four of the first five Wildcats reached base, including a RBI single by Tanner Witt and a run-scoring double off the bat of Shane Conlon.
After a strikeout for the second out of the frame, Jon Davis was hit by pitch to load the base and bring up Mitch Meyer. On a full-count pitch, Meyer singled to center field to bring home two runs and tie the game at 5-5.
Oklahoma scored a run in the 10th on a Matt Oberste RBI single, but K-State came back again when Blair DeBord was hit by a pitch and the Wildcats sacrificed pinch-runner Clayton Dalrymple over to second base. Dalrymple moved to third on a ground out and Ross Kivett fisted a 1-1, two-out single into left field to tie the game yet again.
In the 11th, Taylor Alspaugh looped a one-out double down the left-field line off Jake Matthys (8-1), and he scored when Craig Aiken slapped a two-out single into left field.
However, the never-say-die attitude of K-State came back into play in the bottom half as Witt reached on a leadoff error and Conlon, trying to sacrifice Witt to second base, was safe at first on a bunt single. Following a ground out and an intentional walk, Oklahoma called on Hayes, whose strikeouts sent the Sooners to Sunday’s title game.
“I would have liked to have been a fan watching that game. That would have been a lot of fun,” head coach Brad Hill said. “We were in the game the whole time. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. You could have written us off for dead for a long time that game, but we just fought and battled with some two-strike hits. The great thing is we didn’t quit. We competed all the way through, which this team has shown time and time again. As a coach, that is all you can ask for.”
The Wildcats were not without their chances early in the contest as they recorded 17 hits, their second most this season and the most by a K-State offense in its Big 12 Championship history. However, Kansas State left 13 runners on base and tied its season high by grounding into three double plays. In addition, the 11th inning proved to be the third time Saturday that K-State left the bases loaded.
The top three hitters in K-State’s lineup – Kivett, Witt and Conlon – recorded three hits apiece and drove in at least one run, led by Kivett’s two RBI. The 3-for-4 outing by Kivett produced his team-leading 24th multi-hit game of the year, while Witt and Conlon each registered their 23rd this season. Davis, DeBord and RJ Santigate also added two hits apiece.
Matthys suffered his first-career loss by allowing two runs on five hits in four innings of work. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Matthys was one-third of an inning shy of tying his career high. Matt Garza, Jr. (5-1) earned the win for OU after allowing a run on two hits in 1.1 innings, while Hayes collected his first save of the year.
Oklahoma was paced offensively by Max White and Garrett Carey with two hits apiece. Carey hit a bases-clearing double in the fourth inning on a ball that just went over the outstretched glove of Davis in right field. Anthony Hermelyn recorded sacrifice flies in both the second and fifth innings.
K-State scored its first run of the game in the fourth on a Kivett bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. The run snapped a 21.2 scoreless-inning performance by the Sooners to open the Big 12 Championship.
Kansas State will learn its postseason fate over the next two days. Regional host sites will be announced Sunday night at approximately at 8 p.m. (CT) at www.ncaa.com/cws as well as on the BottomLine of the ESPN family of networks. The entire 64-team field will be announced on the 2013 NCAA Baseball Championship Selection Show at 11 a.m. (CT) Monday on ESPNU.