With a 6-5 walk-off victory over No. 19 Oklahoma on Friday night, the Kansas State Wildcats secured the program’s first-ever Big 12 baseball regular season championship. The 18th-ranked Wildcats (38-15, 15-7) have not won a conference championship since 1933 when K-State tied for first in the Big Six.
K-State secures the No. 1 seed at next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship a year after entering the postseason event as a No. 8 seed. Kansas State was picked to finish seventh in the league in this year’s Big 12 coaches’ preseason poll.
OU, which was selected as the preseason favorite, led the ‘Cats 4-0 through six innings. K-State cut the lead to one with three runs in the sixth and then chased Sooner ace and top prospect Jonathan Gray with a single run in the seventh to tie the game at 4-4. A Jon Davis triple followed by a Lance Miles pinch-hit single gave Kansas State the lead in the bottom of the eighth, but OU’s Jack Mayfield quickly tied the game with a solo home run in the ninth. Kansas State responded by loading the bases in the top of the ninth and win on a wild pitch, 6-5.
This marks the second time a Big 12 member has claimed regular season crowns in football, men’s basketball and baseball in the same year. Texas accomplished the feat during the 2005-06 season when the Longhorns won the Big 12 football south division title, shared men’s basketball with Kansas, and were the outright winners in baseball.
Kansas State cracked the top 25 in four polls this past Monday, ranking as high as 18th by Collegiate Baseball. Kansas State leads the Big 12 in eight offensive categories, including batting average, hits and runs.
With the win, the Wildcats set a school record for conference victories. K-State’s overall win total of 38 is five shy of the school-record 43-win season of 2009. The previous best finish for Kansas State in the Big 12 standings was third place in 2010.
The Wildcats are led by head coach Brad Hill, who is in his 10th season at the helm, and has led his team to the NCAA postseason in three of the past four seasons.
This also marks just the second time the regular season crown has been claimed by a Big 12 program not based in Texas. Former member Nebraska is the only other league team outside the state of Texas that accomplished the feat. Previous regular season champions include Texas (2002, ‘04, ‘06-’07, ‘09-’11), Texas A&M (1998-’99, 2008, ‘11), Baylor (2000, ‘05, ‘12), Nebraska (2001, ‘03, ‘05) and Texas Tech (1997).
The 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship is slated for Wednesday, May 22, through Sunday, May 26, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.