OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Don't tell Kansas State that the game doesn't matter, that winning isn't important.
As play in Pool One of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship evolved Friday, Oklahoma was 2-0. The top-seeded Wildcats face the Sooners at 12:30 p.m. Saturday with the winner gaining a spot in Sunday's championship game. The outcome of Friday's game between K-State and Baylor wouldn't change anything.
And when the Bears took a 5-0 lead through three innings, no one would have blamed the Big 12 regular-season champions from taking the path of least resistance. Instead, Kansas State posted crooked numbers in three innings to rally for a 13-9 victory.
"We play all nine innings and we play to win," Wildcats coach Brad Hill said. "Winning breeds winning. You don't ever play to lose and that's what we did today. I want these guys to keep feeling that way."
Hill hopes his 41-16 team has earned the right to be a first-round site for the NCAA tournament. Stacking wins helps that cause.
"It was tough knowing that the outcome of the game really didn't matter," admitted K-State's Jon Davis, who had two hits and drove in three runs. "But we've come from behind in a lot of games this year and again we showed our resiliency. We fought today like we've fought all season."
Davis had a run-scoring double in the top of the fourth as the Wildcats reduced the deficit to 5-4. K-State added another four-spot in the sixth. Lance Miles, who had two hits and three RBI in place of starting shortstop Austin Fisher, drove in a run with a single up the middle. Big 12 player of the year Ross Kivett capped the rally with a two-run double, snapping an 0-for-6 streak here.
Baylor took a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the eighth when Cal Towey was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Kivett started the ninth with a fly out to center but then the Wildcats wore out the Baylor bullpen with four hits, two walks and a hit batter. Davis' two-run single gave K-State a 10-9 lead and then Miles added a two-run single to pad the lead.
Kansas State led the Big 12 in hitting this season but the bats have cooled in recent games. The "Bat Cats" banged out 12 hits against the Bears.
"I liked how we swung the bats today," Hill said. "Offensively, we really picked it up. We had some great at bats, and we just found a way to come back."
Baylor (27-27) will close Big 12 Championship play by facing Texas Tech at 9 a.m.
"Today was tough and disappointing," Baylor coach Steve Smith said. "I thought we did enough things offensively to win the game and honestly K-State helped us quite a bit with base on balls and a couple of missed plays. We were productive with outs, but we could never really get the big hit with guys on base."