Kansas Ousts Texas From Big 12 Baseball Championship, 4-2
May 24, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Freshman left-handed pitcher Wes Benjamin pitched six strong innings to win his third-straight start, while seniors Chris Manship and James Stanfield each had two hits and drove in a pair of runs as seventh-seeded Kansas eliminated the No. 3 seed Texas, 4-2, in a loser’s out game at the Big 12 Baseball Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The Jayhawks advance to another elimination round on Friday where they will meet the loser of tonight’s Missouri-Texas A&M game for a chance to advance to the semi-final round on Saturday. KU improved to 23-33 on the season, while Texas fell to 30-22 overall.
On Thursday, the Jayhawks scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and rode a pair of freshmen pitchers to victory. Benjamin earned his fifth victory of the season, allowing one run on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Fellow freshman Robert Kahana tossed the final three innings to earn his second save of the season, allowing one run on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts.
After Kahana retired the first seven hitters he faced, Texas rallied to cut the Jayhawk lead to 4-2 and brought the go-ahead run to the plate. However, the freshman reliever fanned Mark Payton with runners on first and third to end the game and begin a rowdy celebration in the infield by the Kansas players.
The Jayhawks earned their first Big 12 tournament victory since 2006, when they downed Nebraska in the championship round as well as their first postseason win over Texas in three tries.
KU jumped out to an early lead in the first when sophomore Tucker Tharp led off with a walk and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. Stanfield then laid down a perfect bunt along the third baseline for a hit, while an errant throw to first allowed the first run to score.
From there, an RBI ground out off the bat of Zac Elgie gave KU a two-run advantage, while Manship doubled to right-center to give the Jayhawks a 3-0 lead.
After Texas cut the deficit to 3-1 in the third on an RBI single by Erich Weiss, the Jayhawks came back in the fifth. Sophomore Ka’iana Eldredge led off the inning with a single and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice by Tharp. Stanfield then collected the team’s second two-out RBI of the game with a base hit through the right side of the infield as the Jayhawks regained a three-run advantage.
Benjamin scattered eight base runners over six innings, but was able to pitch out of trouble throughout the day. The freshman lefty allowed just one hit in 11 at bats with runners in scoring position and stranded six men on base. It marked Benjamin’s third-straight victory dating back to a complete game shutout at Kansas State on May 12.
In the fourth inning, Manship collected his team-leading fourth triple of the season and was one of two players with multiple hits on the day. Eldredge had the only other base hit for KU.
Kansas will await the result of the Texas A&M-Missouri game scheduled for Thursday evening. KU will face the losing team at 7 p.m., Friday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in another elimination game.