May 20, 2009

Courtesy of Kansas State Athletics

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Rob Vaughn’s double in the bottom of the eighth scored Jordan Cruz and broke a 4-4 tie and James Allen tossed a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts as 17th-ranked Kansas State battled to a 5-4 win Tuesday over Kansas in the opening game of the 2009 Big 12 Baseball Championship.

The win gave Kansas State’s its record 40th win of the season as the Wildcats are now 40-15-1 on the year. Kansas moved to 37-20 overall after Tuesday’s contest. The Cats also improved to 10-20 all time in conference tournaments, including a 4-1 mark against Kansas.

With the game tied at four apiece, Kansas reliever Cameron Selik (1-2) forced a pair of fly outs to left field to start the eighth. Jordan Cruz was next and singled up the middle to put the go-head run on base. Rob Vaughn was next and, on an 0-1 pitch, hit a line drive into center field. Kansas center fielder Jason Brunansky dove for the ball to make the final out, but the ball went by him, allowing Cruz to score from first and giving Kansas State its second one-run lead of the game.

Allen (2-1), K-State’s sixth pitcher of the game, struck out Buck Afenir to lead off the frame before surrendering a single to Tony Thompson. However, the freshman would buckle down and strike out Casey Lytle and force pinch hitter Nick Faunce to pop out to end the game.

Allen allowed a two-run single in the seventh inning, which completed a three-run inning to give Kansas the lead. However, the right-hander was dominant the rest of the way as he retired the side in order in the eighth to send the offense back to the plate. The St. Charles, Mo., product also struck out five batters to set a career high.

Selik took the loss as he gave up a pair of runs on three hits in two innings of work.

Kansas State was led offensively by Adam Muenster and Justin Bloxom, who each recorded two hits. Muenster also stole a pair of bases, bringing K-State’s season total to 138, which tied the 1985 team for the most in school history.

Kansas State starter Lance Hoge was unable to make it out of the fifth inning, but the senior battled all morning long. The left-hander allowed eight hits, but just one run, a solo homer from David Narodowski to lead off the fifth inning. Hoge worked around a leadoff double in the second and a pair of first-and-third situations in the third and fourth.

After just three hits in the first five innings, the Wildcats finally got to KU starter Shaeffer Hall in the sixth when Dane Yelovich and Muenster recorded back-to-back doubles to begin the inning and plate one run. Following a strikeout, Nick Martini smashed a ball past Jayhawk first baseman Preston Land to score Muenster and give Kansas State a 2-1 advantage.

Hall was then lifted in favor of Colton Murray, who didn’t fair any better as, after a fly out, Jason King laced a 3-1 pitch into right field to push the K-State lead to 3-1.

As quickly as Kansas State took the lead, the Jayhawks charged right back in the top of the seventh to take back the lead when a double, a walk and an Afenir singled scored one run. Thompson then singled to load the bases before relief pitcher Ryan Daniel threw home for a fielder’s choice and the first out of the inning.

Daniel was lifted in favor of Allen, who struck out Land for the second out of the frame. James Stanfield, who hit a pinch-hit single the previous inning, came through with a two-run single to give Kansas the lead.

The Cats came back to tie the game in the bottom half, thanks to a pair of Jayhawk errors. Vaughn reached first on a throwing error by Narodowski and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Muenster followed and hit a chopper to Land at first, but the ball bounced away from him to put runners on first and third with one out.

Jurica would capitalize on the pair of miscues by scorching a ball through the left side of the infield to tie the game.

Kansas State continues play at the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday with a 7:30 p.m. contest against Baylor at Bricktown Ballpark. The Wildcats will send Big 12 Pitcher of the Year A.J. Morris to mound, while Baylor will counter with left-hander Aaron Miller.