Both Big 12 regular-season champion Kansas State and Oklahoma, winner of the the postseason conference tournament, need just one more win to advance to super-regional play in the NCAA Baseball Championship, while Oklahoma State, with one loss, is trying to stave off elimination.
Kansas State (43-17) , hosting one of the 16 regional tournaments this weekend, awaits the winner of Sunday’s elimination contest between tiny Bryant and second-seed Arkansas. Bryant, which traveled all the way from Rhode Island to take part in the Manhattan (Kan.) Regional, upset the Razorbacks in Friday night’s late game. K-State followed up its 20-11 blowout of Wichita State on Friday with a 7-1 victory over Bryant on Saturday.
“I thought it was another tough game tonight,” Wildcat coach Brad Hill said.
If the Wildcats win their game Sunday evening, they win their regional championship. Otherwise, a winner-take all final will be played on Monday between the same two teams.
Kansas State center-fielder Jared Kin, who is expected to be one of the top outfielders selected in this week’s Major League Baseball first-year-player draft, was the hero on Saturday for the Wildcats. King made a diving catch to prevent two runs from scoring in the Bryant fifth inning and stroked a two-run double in the bottom half of the fifth for K-State.
Two-seeded Oklahoma (42-19) took a 3-0 lead in the opening inning against Connecticut and then had to hold off the Huskies in extra innings before posting a 5-3 win to remain in the winner’s bracket in the Blacksburg (Va.) Regional.
Said OU coach Sunny Golloway after Saturday’s win, the Sooners’ seventh straight: “I am really proud of how my guys stuck in there and came out on top at the end. The play that (shortstop) Jack Mayfield made in the 10th inning, sliding and throwing the (would-be runner) out on first base was a tremendous play,” he said. “I have seen a lot of plays at shortstop in this uniform, and that ranks right there if not the best one of the best I have ever seen, especially with that much on the line.”
The only team still undefeated in that regional, the Sooners will take on the winner of the Sunday afternoon elimination game between host and top-seed Virginia Tech and Connecticut, which beat the Hokies on Friday. An Oklahoma win Sunday night will eliminate either Connecticut or Virginia Tech and award the regional championship to the Sooners, which would be the third time in four years that OU has won a regional championship in the state of Virginia.
While Kansas State and OU were rolling along and in excellent position to move on to the super regionals, Oklahoma State is in a fight to remain alive in NCAA Tournament play. The Cowboys lost their opening game in the Louisville Regional to the University of Miami, but rebounded on Saturday to eliminate Bowling Green from the tournament with a 7-3 victory. That puts the Cowboys in a second elimination game on Sunday, when they will meet up again with Miami, with the winner moving on to play top-seed Louisville on Sunday night.
Follow the Big 12 teams in the NCAA Baseball Championships at Talking12.com.