Kansas State baseball’s late rally wasn’t enough in its first Big 12 tournament appearance in three years on Wednesday.
Despite a home from Zach Kokoska and three RBIs from Cameron Thompson, K-State couldn’t overcome top-seed and regular-season champion Texas Tech, falling 7-4 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
K-State brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the ninth inning, but Texas Tech’s Taylor Floyd snuffed out any thoughts of a comeback, ending the contest with a strikeout.
Eric Torres’ career-long 3 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit relief allowed the Wildcats (25-32) to climb back into the game. Torres, a freshman, retired the last eight Red Raider hitters he faced, striking out five and not surrendering a walk.
“You have to play really good baseball to beat the regular-season champion,” K-State head coach Pete Hughes said in a release. “It has to be clean with no margin for error. You have to get two-out hits. (Texas Tech) did a great job against a really, really good pitcher in our program (Jordan Wicks); drove up his pitch counts, refused to strike out and a had a great two-strike approach.
“I’m really proud of our guys, the way we battled and twice gave our team a chance to come back. There’s no time to think about that now in tournament play. We have to move on ... have a short-term memory and try and get back into our winning ways.”
Kokoska tied the game in the top of the second inning and Thompson drove in two runs in the fifth before an RBI groundout in the seventh brought the Wildcats within a run at 5-4.
TTU (37-15) responded with two in the seventh, highlighted by a pinch-hit RBI single by Cody Masters, to give the Red Raiders a three-run cushion.
Wicks’ (6-3), named the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year Tuesday, was finished after three innings of work, allowing a career-high five earned runs on nine hits and four strikeouts.
Texas Tech hit .467 (7-for-15) with two outs and went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
K-State faced in-state rival Kansas at 9 a.m. Thursday morning, with a result unavailable at presstime. Coverage of that game will be included in Friday’s print edition of The Mercury as well as on themercury.com.