Two K-State Big Innings Top Jayhawks, 8-5
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior second baseman Colby Wright’s career day at the plate was not enough as the Kansas baseball team fell short at Kansas State, 8-5, Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium in the Sunflower Showdown Finale.
Wright missed the first two games of the series for the Jayhawks (20-31-1, 6-14 Big 12) after suffering back spasms in Friday morning’s team workout. The veteran found himself on head coach Ritch Price’s lineup card Sunday after the two days off and never looked back belting a career-high two home runs and tying a personal-best driving in four runs.
Each time Kansas needed a big hit against the Wildcats (26-26, 8-13 Big 12), Wright delivered. In the first inning, Wright squared one up with two runners aboard for the three-run jack to put the Jayhawks up, 3-0. Then in the sixth with KU trailing, 5-4, he rifled one deep over the trees in left field to knot it up.
“It was a really impressive performance by him today after being out the last two days,” Price said. “He could barely walk around on Friday and today he was huge. It was a big-time game and he has been a big-time player. He played one of his best games ever today.”
With the clutch hitting and an early 4-0 lead, Kansas needed a strong start on the mound for a chance to win the series. That burden fell to sophomore lefty Blake Weiman who hadn’t pitched more than three innings in each of his last three starts. The southpaw gave Price and the Jayhawks everything he had until he exited the game after a K-State three-run fifth.
Weiman tossed five complete and gave up five runs off six hits and two walks. He cruised through the first four innings allowing just two runs, but fell behind early in the fifth with back-to-back walks. A single and a double later, Kansas State took the 5-4 lead heading to the sixth.
“Weiman battled and gave us a chance early,” Price said. “The fifth inning was unfortunate. We were trying to get him through the inning and after the two walks, that brought up the top of their order. Once you put guys in scoring position you have the opportunity to give up a crooked number. It was a devastating inning.”
As devastating as giving up the lead can be, Wright erased the one-run deficit with a lead-off home run in the top half of the sixth – his second on the day. That blast not only tied the game, but gave freshman Blake Goldsberry (0-7) a new ballgame when he entered in the bottom of the sixth.
Goldsberry faced just two batters and gave K-State the lead back after Tyler Moore blasted a solo shot to lead off the sixth. Goldsberry then gave up a triple to Quinton Crandall and forced Price to call upon veteran closer Stephen Villines to finish out the game with no outs. The sidearm hurler tossed the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and allowed one run late off two hits while striking out three batters.
Kansas had its chances stranding nine runners on base. Wright had both of KU’s extra-base hits – two home runs – while Kansas State blasted six including three doubles, two triples and a home run.
“I was proud of the way our guys competed and grinded it out,” Price said. “It had the chance of being a great series win, but I tip my cap to K-State. They came up with some big swings late in the game.”
The Jayhawks continue its in-state travel Tuesday, May 17, as they head south to take on Wichita State before closing at conference play at Oklahoma State, May 19-21.
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