KU defeats K-State 2-1 in opening round of Big 12 Baseball tournament

ARLINGTON, TX — The seventh-seeded Kansas Jayhawks fended off the sixth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats in the first round of the Big 12 Baseball Championship tournament on Tuesday with a 2-1 win.

KU scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a solo home run by junior first baseman Ben Hartl. K-State tied the game in the bottom of the next frame with an RBI single by junior shortstop Kaelen Culpepper plating senior left fielder Chuck Ingram.

Wildcats closer Tyson Neighbors got K-State out of a jam with two outs in the eighth inning, but allowed a leadoff triple to KU senior designated hitter Lenny Ashby to lead off the top of the ninth. Junior Sam Hunt pinch ran for Ashby and scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly by senior shortstop Collier Cranford.

Jayhawks senior closer Hunter Cranton took the mound for the bottom of the ninth and retired the Wildcats in order to finish the game.

Junior reliever Tegan Cain picked up the winning decision for Kansas while Cranton recorded his seventh save of the season. Neighbors took the losing decision for K-State.

KU tallied just five hits for the game, although three went for extra bases. Along with Hartl’s home run and Ashby’s triple, Cranford went 1-for-3 with a double, and senior center fielder John Nett and junior second baseman Chase Diggins each recorded a single in the victory.

The Wildcats had seven hits and walked five times on Tuesday, but they also left 10 runners on base in the loss. Culpepper and junior first baseman David Bishop each recorded three hits in the losing effort.

With the win, the Jayhawks will now await the second game of the day at Globe Life Park to determine their second game of the tournament. If the fourth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers defeat the ninth-seeded TCU Horned Frogs, Kansas will play the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. If TCU wins that game, KU will play on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Kansas State is locked into the 9:oo a.m. game on Wednesday when it will play the loser of TCU versus West Virginia. Should the Wildcats win that game, they will play again on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. If they lose on Wednesday, they will be eliminated from the tournament.

Visit the Big 12 website for the full conference tournament bracket.

For more coverage of the Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats, check out 580 Sports Talk weekday afternoons from 2-6 on 580 WIBW.