OKLAHOMA CITY - A week ago, Kansas State wasn't assured of a spot in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship. The Wildcats' sweep of rival Kansas over the weekend removed that uncertainty and put them in the eight-team field.
Sixth-seeded Kansas State proved it belonged with a 5-4 victory over third-seeded Oklahoma in Game Four Wednesday night. The Wildcats (35-21) parlayed timely hitting and outstanding pitching to knock the Sooners (40-16) into the loser's bracket.
Kansas State will face second-seeded Texas A&M in a winner's bracket game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Oklahoma will face No. 7 seed Texas Tech in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Wildcats capitalized on an Oklahoma error to score three runs in the second inning and send Sooners starter Michael Rocha to the showers. That actually turned out to be a bad break for the Wildcats as reliever John Jordan came on to pitch seven innings, allowing four hits and one run.
Oklahoma scored four runs in the home half of the third inning to take the lead. However, that was the only inning in which Kansas State starter Kyle Hunter struggled. He along with relievers Evan Marshall and James Allen kept the Sooners from doing any other damage.
"I knew our hitters have been doing a great job lately and I knew that four runs wasn't going to win the game," said Hunter, who threw 114 pitches. "I just tried to give us a chance to win."
That chance was cashed in by the Wildcats' Ross Kivett. The designated hitter in the leadoff spot tied his career high with four hits and was involved in all of his team's scoring.
In the top of the ninth against Oklahoma closer Ryan Duke, Kivett singled through the left side with two outs on a full-count to drive in the winning run from third. The freshman has been hampered by a sprained ankle.
"I'd classify him as being pretty tough," Kansas State coach Brad Hill said of Kivett. "He competes extremely hard up there and he likes being up there in big situations and he proved that once he got into the starting lineup about six weeks ago."
Oklahoma had the chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth but lost two runners on the bases on consecutive pitchers. Tyler Ogle was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a grounder to shortstop Tanner Witt, who was playing in. Kansas State recorded the final out of the inning when Dan Klein threw out Ricky Eisenberg as he attempted to steal second.
"It's just another one-run loss," Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway said. "We've had a bunch of them this year ... tonight we're not going to say 'we coulda' and 'we shoulda'. We understand the losers' bracket is going to be a long road but we're going to have the pitching to be able to do it if we just play well."