“Cat town is title town,” according to Kansas State athletic director John Currie. And while Green Bay may not like that statement, Manhattan, Kansas is making a pretty strong case for itself.
Tanner Witt scored from third on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night to beat the Oklahoma Sooners 6-5 and clinch Kansas State’s first conference baseball title since 1933.
Oklahoma staked the NCAA’s best starting pitcher Jonathan Gray a 4-0 lead early but were not able to hold off the Wildcats, who scored in each of the final four innings to complete the comeback win. Gray, who was a 13th round draft pick of the Royals in 2010, allowed a run in the six and two runs in the seventh to reduce the Sooners lead to 4-3 leading to Gray being pulled from the game. Once Gray was out, momentum was in K-State’s favor, who scratched together two more runs to give themselves a 5-4 heading into the ninth.
Sooners shortstop Jack Mayfield tied it in the top of the ninth before Witt scored the game winner in the bottom of the inning.
With the conference championship, KSU may now how a shot at hosting regional to begin the race for the College World Series though that is not yet set in stone. K-State still has two more games left this weekend against the Sooners before competing in the Big 12 tournament that starts May 22. Their performance in the last week of the season may change things, but being Big 12 champion will help their case tremendously.
Regionals begin June 1, Super Regionals on June 8, and the College World Series on June 15 in Omaha, Nebraska.
K-State’s win also clinched a Triple Crown of sorts for the athletic program, who won shares of the football and men’s basketball conference crowns earlier in the academic year. It is only the second time a Big 12 school has won a football, men’s basketball, and baseball conference title and the first since Texas did it in 2005-2006.