The 2013 Big 12 regular-season title chase in baseball is now history.
Kansas State responded to a game-tying ninth-inning home run by Oklahoma’s Jack Mayfield with a walk-off 6-5 win in the home half of the ninth. That game-one win over the Sooners assured the Wildcats of at least a share of their first regular-season Big 12 baseball crown. The news got even better later, when West Virginia lost to Oklahoma State. The Wildcat win, coupled with the OU and West Virginia losses gave K-State the championship outright.
And that’s not all. By capturing the league crown in baseball, Kansas State achieve a trifecta in major sports titles for the year. The Wildcats are only the second team in Big 12 history to claim championships in football, basketball and baseball in the same year. K-State was co-champion in football (with Oklahoma) and basketball (with instate rival Kansas), but the baseball title is all theirs to relish. Winning conference titles in all three major sports has only happend four time nationally in the BCS era.
A game and a night to savor and remember for all Kansas State fans.
Kansas State scored the winning run Friday night without the aid of a base hit. Oklahoma reliever Jacob Evans, one of the top closers in the country this season, walked two batters (one intentionally) and hit Austin Fisher, who had already homered in the game, to load the bases with one out. Evans then uncorked a wild pitch against Jon Davis, scoring Shane Conlan with the winning run.
“It’s pretty amazing. These kids are phenomenal,” Wildcat head coach Brad Hill said. “This is a great accomplishment for this program.”
Oklahoma jumped out to a 4-0 lead against K-State starter Levi MaVorhis, scoring three in the top half of the fifth and one in the sixth. The Wildcats countered against OU ace starter Jonathan Gray with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and score single runs in the seventh and eighth to take a one-run lead at 5-4 heading to the ninth.
When the Wildcats pushed across the go-ahead tally in their half of the eighth, triggered by a lead-off triple by Davis, the sell-out crowd of over 3,5 and began to sense and react as if a championship was at hand.
“When we were down 4-0 against one of the top draft picks (OU’s Gray), there was no panic in the guys,” Hill said. “They believed they were going to come back and win.”
The win Friday was the 15th in Big 12 action this season for the Wildcats, an eight game improvement over the previous year and a new school record. Kanssas State now has a record of 38-15 for the season, five wins shy of the school’s all-time best in baseball.
Oh, and there are still two games to go in this series, and they are not meaningless from a Kansas State perspective. The Wildcats have already secured the top seed in next week’s Big 12 Championship tournament, but they still have a very good chance of becoming an NCAA regional site with at least another win 0ver the Sooners on Saturday or Sunday.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, is still fighting for a No. 2 seed in the conference championship.