Upset highlights Jayhawks, Wildcats first appearances in Big 12 tournament

Big 12 baseball tournament kicks off in Arlington, Texas at Globe Life Field
Southern Baseball
Southern Baseball(WAFB)
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:18 PM CDT
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ARLINGTON, Texas. (KCTV) - The Big 12 baseball tournament began Wednesday with both fifth-seeded Kansas State and eighth-seeded Kansas making an appearance.

In the first matchup of the double-elimination tournament, the Wildcats of Kansas State faced off against the fourth-seeded Horned Frogs of TCU. The Frogs scored a combined 16 runs in the first four innings, including six runs of damage in the fourth for the run-rule victory. An opening frame three-run homer from TCU’s Brayden Taylor, a two-run blast from the 7-hole hitter Kurtis Byrne along with base hits that added up.

K-State added traffic on the base path for the first time since the first inning in the third with a trio of walked batters, a hit by pitch and sacrifice fly to put a pair of runs together. Senior Cole Johnson registered an RBI single in the fifth inning to top off Kansas State’s 3-run effort.

“We’re all in. We were all in today they just jumped out on us and we couldn’t exercise our pitching plan. It will be every man available and we will do whatever it takes to win. Survive for the next day and game plan for the next day,” said KSU head coach Pete Hughes following the loss.

K-State (33-23) will face No. 1 seed Texas in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Thursday.

No. 8 seed Kansas started off the tournament with a date against the conference’s regular season champions and top-ranked Texas, but the results reflected quite the contrary.

The Jayhawks set the tone in the top of the third against Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Lucas Gordon. Leadoff hitter Mike Koszewski singled to right with one on and one out to put runners on corners for Chase Jans. A Jans sacrifice fly combined with an RBI single from Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year Kodey Shojinaga gave Kansas the advantage a pair to none.

A solo shot from Jack O’Dowd at the bottom of the inning and a Porter Brown single up the middle tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth. The Longhorn’s efforts and pair of homers from O’Dowd was not enough to defend the No. 1 seed in their home state.

Junior Janson Reeder sealed the deal and for the Jayhawks just before the seventh-inning stretch. With two outs, a full count, and bases loaded Reeder got a hold of a fastball and sent it into the seats at Globe Life for the grand slam and 6-3 KU victory.

“I’m super proud of the effort of our guys today,” coach Dan Fitzgerald said. “We fought all year. We have a really cohesive, together group and they’ve been awesome since August. So, I’m not surprised we came out and played with a lot of passion and energy and fire. I’m really, really proud.”

No. 8 seeded Kansas will advance in the winner’s bracket, facing TCU at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.