April 25, 2009

Courtesy of Kansas State

AUSTIN, Texas - A.J. Morris threw his second complete game of the season while setting the Kansas State single-season wins record as the Wildcats topped No. 2 Texas, 4-2, Friday evening at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.


Kansas State trailed 2-0 after five innings of play but scored four unanswered runs as it moved to 30-11 overall and 9-7 in Big 12 play. The Wildcats became just the 12th team in school history to reach the 30-win plateau. Texas fell to 29-7 overall and 12-7 in conference play.


Morris, who improved his record to 10-0, broke the Kansas State single-season school record held by four different players. The right-hander, who allowed just one earned run, recorded the victory in a career-high 141-pitch outing.

The Humble, Texas, product, who also threw a complete game in his home state at Baylor four weeks ago, allowed eight hits but continually worked out of jams. Morris, who walked two and struck out five, was uncharacteristically inconsistent in the first four innings as Texas put up two runs on five hits. However, Morris settled down the rest of the way, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing just two hits en route to the win.


Texas senior closer Austin Wood (4-1) was saddled with the loss, surrendering two runs after entering with the game tied at 2-2. The lefty gave up five hits in 2.1 innings while striking out five batters.


Freshman Nick Martini led the Cats at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a run scored. Justin Bloxom, Jason King and Rob Vaughn each tallied two hits, while Bloxom drove in two of the Wildcats' four runs.


Kansas State, which left 10 runners on base, had a chance to take command early in the game but stranded four runners in scoring position in the first three innings. The Texas offense capitalized as the Longhorns scored an unearned run in the first when an error by shortstop Drew Biery allowed leadoff batter Travis Tucker to reach safely. Tucker evenutally scored on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Belt.


Texas also scored a run in the fourth when Kevin Keyes hit a line drive off Morris' leg for an infield single. After Cameron Rupp sacrificed Keyes to second, Kevin Lusson singled to right-center field to drive home Keyes and give the Longhorns a two-run advantage.


In the meantime, Texas starter Chance Ruffin sat down nine straight Wildcats before Bloxom and King ignited the Cat attack with back-to-back one-out home runs in the sixth to tie the game at 2-2.


Morris used that momentum to retire nine of the next 10 Longhorns, giving his offense a chance to take the lead.


The Wildcats finally broke through in the eighth when King singled with one out and stole second base. Biery was next and singled through the right side of the infield scoring King to give the Cats their first lead of the game at 3-2.


K-State tallied an important insurance run in the ninth inning when Martini singled to center, stole second base and scored on Bloxom's triple to right-center field to build the lead to 4-2.


Morris, who entered the ninth inning looking for the school record, retired Rupp on a fly out. Lusson then singled to left field, but was retired at second base on a fielder's choice grounder by Brandon Loy for the second out. Pinch-hitter Russell Mouldenhauer kept the Longhorns hopes alive with a single into right field to put the tying run on base. However, Morris, just as he did all night, worked out of the jam as Tucker lined out to Biery to capture the win.


Kansas State and Texas continue their three-game conference series at 2 p.m., Saturday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.