It took some late-game heroics, but the Kansas baseball team survived to see another day at the Big 12 tournament, finally knocking out rival Kansas State after two extra innings on Thursday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, in Oklahoma City.
The Jayhawks sent four runs across the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning, prevailing 15-14, thanks to five consecutive two-out singles in the decisive frame.
Junior James Cosentino put an end to the wild Sunflower Showdown with an RBI single to right center that scored freshman Casey Burnham from third.
"I got into a 3-1 count and I was just trying to get something over the plate and just trying to battle and put the ball in play," Cosentino said afterward. "I saw the ball really well today in every single one of my at-bats, and it was a good team win for us. Our mentality was that we can't lose. We're not a team that gives up. It was great for all those freshmen to step up and keep the momentum going and keep the momentum in our dugout. They gave me a chance to do something special."
Each of KU’s first seven hitters in the order came through with multi-hit games and sophomore Skyler Messinger went 4-for-6 at the plate.
Though the Jayhawks (32-25) jumped out in front, 6-1, after three innings, the Wildcats stormed back, eventually taking an 11-7 lead in the sixth.
KU would tie it up at 11 in the bottom of the seventh and that score stood until the 11th. K-State broke the stalemate with 3 runs in the top of the inning before KU rallied yet again.
The Jayhawks’ final push began with sophomore Nolan Metcalf's one-out double down the right field line. Then, with KU down to its final out, Messinger, redshirt freshman Dylan Ditzenberger, Burnham, freshman Jack Wagner and Cosentino provided the decisive surge with five straight base hits.
KU baseball coach Ritch Price called it “one of the greatest wins” with which he’s ever been involved.
"To grind it out, have a big lead, and to give it up, and to come back and find a way to take the lead again, for them to score three times and for my guys to answer four times in the bottom of the 11th is incredible,” Price said. “There were six great at-bats and I couldn't be happier for (Cosentino). He was a freshman All-American, he hit .300 last year and has had a tough year this year, and has played through a bunch of injuries and he's one of the best team guys I've ever coached."
After losing its opener to West Virginia on Wednesday, No. 5 seed KU is still alive in the loser’s bracket. Kansas on Friday will face the loser between top seed Texas Tech and WVU.