Kansas Drops Sunflower Showdown Opener to K-State, 4-3
May 10, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas sophomore Connor McKay went 4-for-4 and hit for the cycle, including a triple to lead off the bottom of the ninth, but KU’s rally fell one run short in a Sunflower Showdown series-opening loss to Kansas State, 4-3, at Hoglund Ballpark Friday night.
McKay, the Jayhawks’ designated hitter from Parker, Colo., doubled off the top of the leftfield wall in the second, singled in the fourth, hit a solo home run to cut K-State’s (35-15, 12-7 Big 12) lead to 4-2 in the sixth, and then scored after the triple in the ninth but Kansas (31-19, 12-10 Big 12) saw a six-game winning streak come to an end in another one-run contest. The 4-3 loss marked KU’s seventh straight one-run decision in Big 12 play, and 19th of the season, which tied for second-most in program history.
McKay became the first Jayhawk to hit for the cycle since Jared Schweitzer accomplished the feat in the 2006 NCAA Corvallis Regional against Hawaii (June 2), and was joined with multiple hits by Kevin Kuntz, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. The Jayhawks’ senior shortstop needed one more hit to keep the teams’ hopes alive in the ninth, but a hard-hit ball up the middle was batted down by K-State pitcher Jake Matthys and thrown to first to end the game. Matthys earned his fifth save of the season for the Wildcats after allowing one run in three innings of relief.
Kansas State pushed across an unearned run in the top of the second against KU starter Thomas Taylor, who labored through 5.1 innings in just his second loss of the season, and never trailed in the contest. Taylor sat down the Wildcats in order in the third inning, but allowed a base runner in every other frame while giving up seven hits and three walks to the second-best offensive team in the nation.
The Wildcats scored two more runs in the top of the fifth on three-consecutive base hits and a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-0 lead before Kansas answered with a single run in the bottom of the fifth off of Kuntz’ second double – a contested call down the right field line that saw K-State catcher Blair DeBord tossed from the game.
Both teams traded runs in the sixth, as Mitch Meyer left the yard in the top half and McKay answered with his second home run of the season in the bottom half to make it 4-2, K-State.
Robert Kahana took over for Taylor two batters after the Meyer home run and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, including working out of his own bases loaded jam in the top of the eighth, before giving way to Junior Mustain. Likewise, Mustain got into a pickle with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, but wrapped three strikeouts around an intentional walk to wriggle free without any damage.
Both performances set up the Jayhawks for potential rallies in the final three innings but KU left a runner stranded in the seventh, hit into an inning-ending double play in the eighth, and couldn’t find the tying run after Eldredge drove in McKay in the ninth.
Kansas dropped to 11-8 in one-run games and trail only the 1990 team’s 22 one-run contests for most in a single season.
Levi MaVorhis (5-0) earned the win after limiting KU to one run in 5.1 innings, and Meyer led the charge offensively for the Wildcats with a 2-for-5, two-runs scored performance. Shane Conlon clubbed three hits in five at-bats for K-State, but didn’t affect the game’s scoring.
With Oklahoma’s loss to Oklahoma State, 4-3, Friday night, and a postponed start to the TCU-West Virginia series, Kansas State momentarily moved into first place in the Big 12 Conference standings. The series resumes Saturday at 2 p.m. when KU will send LHP Wes Benjamin (4-5, 4.19 ERA) against K-State RHP Matt Wivinis (6-2, 4.39 ERA). Kansas will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its’ 1993 College World Series team in a ceremony Saturday, and the first 500 fans through the turnstiles will receive a Sunflower Showdown Pennant.
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