Oklahoma State came in desperate. Kansas came in with a win they really had no business expecting, but having earned it had no reason to think tonight would be a wasted effort. The result: a duel, but calling it a pitcher's duel would be misleading. The teams combined for 19 LOB.
The Jayhawks struck first with an unearned run. Kevin Kuntz reached on an error, moved up on an infield single by Michael Suiter, and scored when Alex DeLeon shot a ball into left. Kansas mounted a scary threat, loading the bases with two out before Tyler Nurdin got Connor McKay swinging.
Nothing particularly exciting happened after that until the fifth, when the Cowboys ended up with runners on second and third after a Tanner Krietemeier sacrifice. It paid off when Randy McCurry stroked a single to left, scoring Saulyer Saxon. Robbie Rea tried to execute the squeeze but failed, leaving runners at first and second; that probably cost a run ultimately as Zach Fish then doubled, scoring McCurry and giving the Pokes a 2-1 lead.
The Jayhawks got it right back. Tyler Tharp doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth and advanced on a Justin Protacio sacrifice; he scored two batters later on a wild pitch to tie the game.
The tie didn't last long. Aaron Cornell reached on an infield single to short. An out later, Cornell stole second, then moved to third when Saxon grounded out; when Donnie Walton smacked a single to center field, Cornell scored to regain the lead for Oklahoma State.
The Jayhawks immediately threatened; Jordan Dreiling walked and then stole second. Dreiling made an extremely heads-up play, as the throw to second bounced off his knee and without even really looking to see where it went, sensing the trajectory, he popped up and sprinted for third. Kansas couldn't capitalize, though, and the game remained 3-2 heading into the seventh.
Tucker Tharp jacked his first home run of the season into the left field seats to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Protacio reached on an error, then moved to second when Kuntz beat out a sacrifice bunt. Suiter followed with a single; Protacio had to wait to see if the ball was going to get through, but then engaged warp drive and collided with Gage Green at the plate. The ball came loose, and the Jayhawks took the lead. The Jayhawks loaded the sacks, but Nurdin got out of the fire by inducing a 6-3 double play out of Dreiling.
Kansas got another in the eighth. Dakota Smith doubled, and moved to third on a bunt single by Connor McKay. Smith scored when Ka'iana Eldridge hit into a double play. Piche' closed out the ninth, and the Jayhawks joined K-State and Oklahoma at 2-0.
The loss eliminates the Cowboys. Kansas advances to the final with a win over TCU tomorrow; they play at 7:30pm CT. If the Jayhawks lose tomorrow, West Virginia advances if they beat OSU; otherwise, it's TCU headed to the final to face the winner of tomorrow's K-State-Oklahoma game.
See you at 9am.