⚾️ Kansas Beats Kansas State 2-1 in Opening Game of Big 12 Championship

ARLINGTON, Texas – Kansas scored a go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning to beat Kansas State 2-1 in the opening game of the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Globe Life Field Tuesday. Lenny Ashby led off the inning with his first triple of the season and Collier Cranford drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

Kansas has now won the opening game of the Big 12 Championship in back-to-back seasons after defeating No. 1-seeded Texas a year ago. The Jayhawks improved to 30-21 overall this season.

Kansas starter Evan Shaw tossed five innings and allowed only run while walking four and striking out six. The combination of Ethan Lanthier, Cooper Moore, Tegan Cain and Hunter Cranton combined to throw four shutout innings of relief. All of them pitched a single inning, with Cain earning the win and Cranton recording the save.

• Both teams were scoreless through the first three innings.
• Kansas broke the scoreless battle in the fourth inning. Ben Hartl hit a solo home run to give the Jayhawks a 1-0 lead.
• Kansas State (31-23) evened up the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning with an RBI single by Kaelen Culpepper.
• The Wildcats threatened to score in the sixth and seventh innings with two runners on base, but Kansas was able to escape both innings unscathed with strikeouts to end each frame.
• The Jayhawks had two runners on in the eighth inning but were unable to score.
• In the ninth, Kansas got the go-ahead run after Ashby’s leadoff triple and Cranford’s sacrifice fly to take a 2-1 lead.
• Cranton then pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to finish it off.

Win: Tegan Cain (1-2)
Final line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
Loss: Tyson Neighbors (1-2)
Final line: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
Save: Hunter Cranton (7)
Final line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO

Cooper Moore, Ethan Lanthier, Tegan Cain, Hunter Cranton: The four pitchers threw four shutout innings and helped hold Kansas State to only one run and seven hits on the day. All four of them had at least one strikeout, including inning-ending strikeouts with two runners on base by both Moore and Lanthier.


“Great ballgame. I loved how our guys competed. To think that 23 months ago we started on a journey of rebuilding this thing, and to have these guys and all their teammates be playing the way they are is pretty awesome, against a really good K-State team. We had great preparation. These guys love playing together. We’ve got a really tight group. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.” – Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald

“Evan Shaw had a great start and really gave us an opportunity to win. The bullpen did their job. The defense worked behind them, they filled up the zone and gave us every opportunity to win.” – Ben Hartl

“Runner on third and nobody out – we do it every single day at practice. We call it making your free throws. I was just trying to get a ball up in the zone, touch it, get it to the outfield and let Sam [Hunt’s] speed get him home.” – Collier Cranford

• Kansas has won the opening game of the Big 12 Championship in back-to-back seasons for only the second time in program history (2017-18).
• Kansas improved to 2-2 all-time at Globe Life Field. The Jayhawks are now 14-24 all-time in the Big 12 Championship, including 4-6 against Kansas State.
• Kansas has 30 wins for the first time since the 2021 season.
• Kansas pitching set a program record for the most strikeouts in a game in the Big 12 Championship (12).
• Hartl hit his 11th home run of the season.
• Ashby hit his first triple of the season in the ninth inning.
• Cranton recorded his seventh save of the season. That is the most saves by a KU pitcher since Jonah Ulane in 2021.

Kansas will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 1-seeded Oklahoma or No. 9-seeded TCU on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. CT.