OKLAHOMA CITY — Kansas State came out on fire against Oklahoma State with three runs in the first inning and never looked back as the Wildcats staved off elimination with an 11-5 victory Thursday in the Big 12 Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
With the win, K-State improved to 27-30 on the season and advanced in the championship to play Baylor today at 3:15 p.m. Oklahoma State fell to 32-25 and was eliminated from the Big 12 Championship.
The Wildcats had four players record multi-hit games, including a four-hit performance by Jake Brown. Ross Kivett tallied three hits, while Jared King and Wade Hinkle registered two hits apiece. King recorded his Big 12-leading 27th multi-hit game of the season, while Hinkle picked up his 20th of the year. Kivett, King, RJ Santigate and Mike Kindel all drove in two runs.
“The big thing was our first inning,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “When you’re in the loser’s bracket, it’s about whoever can get momentum first in a game like this. We jump-started ourselves in the first and I think that was a big advantage for us. This team just again finds a way. Our guys found a way to get it done.”
K-State’s 11 runs were the most by a Wildcat squad in the Big 12 Championship and the second-most in its conference tournament history. In addition to his two hits, Hinkle also worked four walks to give him 48 on the season, as he tied the school record originally set by Chris Bouchard in 1995.
The Wildcats also stole five bases to push their season total to 104. K-State has reached the 100-steal mark eight times, while it was the fifth straight year it has accomplished the feat.
K-State scored two of its three first-inning runs on King’s fourth triple of the year. After a pair of walks, Santigate hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in the third run. The Wildcats put three more on the board in the third when Kindel singled home two runs and Kivett hit a two-strike, two-out double to push the K-State advantage to 6-0.
Oklahoma State cut the Wildcat lead in half with three runs in the third off K-State starter Joe Flattery when Hunter Bailey doubled home a pair of runs ahead of a RBI single by Robbie Rea.
The Cats came right back in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a two-out error by Bailey at shortstop on a misplayed ground ball, which scored a pair of runs. K-State continued with consecutive RBI singles by Brown and Kivett to complete the four-run inning and open up a 10-3 lead.
Flattery, who threw a complete game last Friday at Texas Tech, could only work 4 2/3 innings on short rest as he was lifted for Gerardo Esquivel (3-1) in the fifth.
Pitching with two runners on base, Esquivel induced a line out to end the frame and went on to toss scoreless sixth and seventh innings.
“Joe was short-rested and competed the best he could,” Hill said. “Gerardo threw some zeros up there that really helped us. He had a rough go at Texas Tech and really bounced back today. He kept momentum on our side.”
Bailey led the Cowboys with three hits and three RBIs. Starter Randy McCurry (4-3) suffered the loss as he surrendered the three first-inning runs without recording an out while allowing three hits and three walks.