Oklahoma got the bats going early in the first inning and in the fourth inning to create a comfortable lead in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader at Tointon Family Stadium.
Kansas State got in position in the ninth inning to tie or take the lead, but the Sooners muscled out the win, 6-4.
Oklahoma got on the board early. In the first inning, the Sooners got some help from K-State’s (21-14, 3-8 Big 12) defense, scoring their first run off a wild pitch. Two more runs came from a home run.
Kansas State head coach Pete Hughes said the three first-inning runs weren't easy to deal with.
“It is a long game ahead of you,” Hughes said. “We were expecting to score more than three runs, but it is deflating. Especially when that first run was a gimme run on a passed ball. Those are deflating when you give easy runs in league (play)."
The Sooners (19-16, 4-7) got two more home runs off Seymour in the top of the fourth inning to take a 6-0 lead.
Hughes said his team never doubted itself, though.
“We were just trying to get back in the game,” Hughes said. “Our guys do not quit. They just look for ways to get back in the game. I thought our guys did a really good job offensively. They stayed in the moment and gave ourselves a chance to win the game.”
K-State did not go down easy: It mustered four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to trim the deficit to 6-4.
“I am proud of our guys,” Hughes said. “They did not look at that scoreboard for one second. They gave quality at bats and put up a four spot in the fifth inning.”
Dylan Caplinger got the inning going for the hosts with a home run to left field that brought in two runs. Cameron Uselton then followed later in the inning with a double to score Blake Burrows, and Nick Goodwin hit a single to center field to bring home Uselton.
The Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning with Dylan Phillips at the plate.
It is a scenario Hughes would take in any game with the result hanging in the balance.
“That is how I would have dialed it up,” Hughes said. “(Philips) did it for us in the first game. I hope he is up (at the plate) tomorrow in the same situation. The kid works his butt off any day to be in that situation and have a competitive at bat. That was a very competitive at bat. (Phillips) got the count to 3-2. He is the right guy in that spot.”
Against Oklahoma’s closer Jason Ruffcorn, Phillips worked a full count, but struck out swinging on a high fastball to end the game.
“There was a lot of fight in our guys tonight,” Hughes said. “To give yourself a chance to win game in the ninth? (The fight) will carry into tomorrow.”
The doubleheader split sets up a pivotal rubber game matchup Sunday.
Connor McCullough will get the start on the mound for the Wildcats.
“Got to win the series,” Hughes said. “Rubber match tomorrow. We like Connor McCullough on the mound, and we like our bullpen. It is big. ... We need to get this win tomorrow. Winning tomorrow and winning the series is one step closer to getting this team back on the right track in the Big 12.”
Phillips' notches game-winning RBI single in 10th inning of Game 1
Star sophomore pitcher Jordan Wicks got the ball to begin Saturday's first game — and he owned the spotlight.
He tossed 121 pitches in seven innings, recording seven strikeouts while allowing only three hits and one run.
But the hosts needed some late-game heroics to walk away with the victory: Phillips had a walk-off line drive to left-center field with two outs in the bottom of the 10th to lift the Wildcats to a 3-2 win.
Afterward, Hughes praised another standout showing from Wicks.
“There was not much barrel contact, I think there was one quality barrel hit off him,” Hughes said. “(Oklahoma) is leading the conference in hitting. His stuff was really good today. His fastball command was outstanding. He had a good feel for all four of his pitches.”
It was Oklahoma that got on the board first, however. Oklahoma’s Tanner Tredaway came through with two outs in the fifth inning with a single to left field to bring in a run.
The hosts responded quickly, as they loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning with one out. Uselton had an two-RBI single that barely passed the second baseman to bring in Caleb Littlejim and Chris Ceballos and give K-State a 2-1 lead.
With Wicks' dominance on the mound, the Wildcats held on to their one-run lead until the ninth inning.
A sacrifice bunt gave Oklahoma runners on second and third with one out, and then an infield groundout brought in the tying run. But the Wildcats recorded the third out of the inning to prevent the Sooners from taking the lead.
That paid off in the next inning thanks to Phillips' game-winning base knock.
While disappointed that Wicks wasn't credited with the victory, Hughes said the team was happy to grind out an extra-inning win.
“Jordan does not care if a win goes next to his name; he cares about the win going next to Kansas State’s name," Hughes said. "I am the same way, too. It is baseball. You cannot sit around and feel sorry for yourself because you blew a one-run lead in the ninth. You've just got to figure out a way to win it. Our guys did that. I thought that was awesome.”