Taylor, Jayhawks Eliminate Texas A&M at Big 12 Championship, 5-3
May 25, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Redshirt junior Thomas Taylor pitched his first career complete game Friday night, allowing three runs on seven hits and matched a career high with nine strikeouts as Kansas eliminated second-seeded Texas A&M, 5-3 at the Big 12 Baseball Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The win moves Kansas into the semi-final round of the conference tournament where it will meet Border Showdown rival Missouri at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Jayhawks will need to beat the Tigers twice to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
Taylor, a redshirt junior from Overland Park, Kan., was phenomenal Friday night. The right-handed pitcher tossed a career high 157 pitches in the game and held the No. 6-ranked Aggies to just one run over the final eight innings.
In the top of the ninth with KU clinging to a 5-3 lead, Texas A&M put the tying runs on base with one out. However, Taylor got the Aggies’ leading hitter, Tyler Naquin, to ground into a game ending double play which set off another celebration in the middle of the diamond.
After spotting Texas A&M a 2-0 lead in the first, KU tied the game in the second on a two-run home run by Dakota Smith, which tied the game at 2-2.
Two innings later, the Jayhawks took the lead when redshirt junior Jordan Dreiling tripled down the left field line with James Stanfield and Zac Elgie aboard, giving the Jayhawks a 4-2 advantage. The three-base hit marked the eighth this season in four games against Texas A&M.
After the Aggies cut the deficit to 4-3 on an RBI single by Matt Juengel in the fifth, the Jayhawks answered with another two-out RBI hit by Stanfield – his third of the tournament – giving KU the two-run lead it would hold on to.
Taylor did the rest, holding the Aggies scoreless over the final four innings with the aid of double plays in the seventh and the ninth.
The complete game by Taylor was the first in a Big 12 Championship game by a Jayhawk and the first in a postseason game since Shaeffer Hall tossed a complete game shutout against Dartmouth at the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Stanfield, Dreiling and Suiter each collected two hits in the game as Kansas handed Texas A&M starting pitcher Ross Stripling his third loss of the season.
The Jayhawks and Tigers will be meeting for the third time in Big 12 Championship play and have split the first two meetings, with MU winning in 2003 and KU in 2006, en route to a conference title.