The offense struck early, and nifty defense plus five shutout innings from starter Colton Kalmus led Kansas State to a 7-3 win over Oklahoma on day one of the Big 12 Baseball Championship at ONEOK Field in Tulsa.
Kalmus, starting the tournament rather than Wildcat ace Nate Griep, gave up only four hits while striking out six through the first five frames. He left the game after running into trouble in the sixth, giving up a pair of solo homers to Taylor Alspaugh and Anthony Hermelyn around a dangerous flyout by Kolbey Carpenter. Jordan Floyd came on and threw 3.2 innings, giving up a single run in recording the save.
The BatCats got on the board first when Shane Conlon followed back-to-back singles by Carter Yagi and Tyler Wolfe with a run-scoring double play grounder. K-State added another pair in the second following Max Brown's leadoff double; a wild pitch, a walk to Alex Bee, and a single by Clayton Dalrymple plated Brown, and a later throwing error by Sooner shortstop Sheldon Neuse on a Jake Wodtke grounder allowed Dalrymple to score.
Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes had by this point had enough of starter Jake Elliott, who didn't come back out for the third inning. It didn't matter to the Wildcats, who touched up reliever Adam Choplick for another pair. Wolfe walked to open the inning then moved to second on a Conlon sacrifice. Tyler Moore doubled, scoring Wolfe, then came around two batters later on a groundout off the bat of Bee, giving K-State a 5-0 lead.
That held up through five, and the Wildcats answered Oklahoma's two-homer sixth with another pair of runs. With one out, Yagi reached on a Choplick error, then Wolfe was hit by a pitch and Conlon walked to load the sacks. Choplick was lifted for Ralph Garza Jr., who retired Moore on a foulout to first before giving up a two-run single to Brown. That put the Wildcats back up by five, and although Oklahoma got one back in the bottom of the stanza it was all over. The Wildcats made some splendid defensive plays in the final two innings, including a key bang-bang double play in the eighth to wipe out a looming Sooner threat.
K-State moves on to play tomorrow night at 7:30pm CT against the winner of tonight's Oklahoma State-West Virginia tilt. Griep will indeed take the mound tomorrow, and K-State will try to put themselves in position to have two shots at reaching the conference championship game.