Kansas baseball opens Big 12 Tournament with a Sunflower Showdown win over K-State

Kansas baseball saw its 2023 season end at the hands of the Kansas State Wildcats in last year’s Big 12 Tournament, but the Jayhawks got the last word this time around.

The decisive run in a 2-1 KU win came in the ninth inning on Tuesday.

KU outfielder Lenny Ashby led off the top of the ninth with a triple after working a full count against K-State reliever Tyson Neighbors. Neighbors entered for redshirt-sophomore Jackson Wentworth in the eighth to preserve a 1-1 score after Wentworth allowed a single and a walk.

While Neighbors kept the Jayhawks at bay in that frame, they managed to break through in the ninth. Senior infielder Collier Cranford provided a sac fly to center for the go-ahead run.

Kansas senior Hunter Cranton — who took the loss after blowing a ninth-inning lead against Texas last week — set out for the save against the Wildcats and bounced back well. He struck out two and retired K-State infielder Kaelen Culpepper, who was responsible for his team’s lone RBI to that point.

Jayhawk lefty Evan Shaw started the game and threw five innings of one-run ball. He surrendered four hits and four walks while striking out six. Kansas junior Tegan Cain was credited with the win.

Josh Wintroub started for the Wildcats and pitched 3 1/3 innings. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out two. He allowed one run, a solo shot from Jayhawk first baseman Ben Hartl in the fourth.

The Jayhawks now await their next opponent in the Big 12 Tournament, which will be either TCU or Oklahoma depending on how Tuesday’s games unfold.

The Wildcats will next face the loser of the TCU/West Virginia matchup.