Benjamin, Jayhawks Shut Out Kansas State, 6-0
May 12, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Freshman left-handed pitcher Wes Benjamin pitched the first complete game shutout by a Jayhawk in three years, matching a career high eight strikeouts, while Tucker Tharp and Dakota Smith combined for four hits and three RBIs as Kansas blanked K-State, 6-0, to even the three-game series Saturday night at Tointon Family Stadium.
After being shut out by the Wildcats in the series opener Friday night, KU returned the favor Saturday to even the three-game series and improve to 20-30 overall and 5-14 in Big 12 play. K-State drops to 23-28 overall and 4-16 in the conference. The Jayhawks lead the Wildcats by 1 ½ games for the eighth and final spot in the Big 12 Baseball Championship.
Benjamin scattered six hits in his start, but seemed to get stronger as the night went on. The 6-foot-2 freshman retired 14 of the final 15 hitters he faced, including setting the side down in order in his last three frames. The freshman walked one and fanned eight in the game, which matched his total from his victory over Texas Tech on March 31.
Junior Kevin Kuntz got KU off on the right foot with a two-run single to center field in the third inning, which staked the Jayhawks to a 2-0 lead. Kuntz hit a ground ball up the middle with Smith and Ka'iana Eldredge in scoring position after the pair had collected back-to-back base hits with one out.
KU took advantage of Wildcat mistakes to add to its lead. In the seventh, pinch runner Michael Suiter moved into scoring position on an errant pickoff throw and came around on Smith's two-out double to the wall in left center field.
James Stanfield stretched the lead to 4-0 with a two-out double in the eighth. The senior catcher came around to score on a wild pitch and a error on the catcher's throw to third following a pitch in the dirt.
Tharp delivered the knockout blow with a two-out, two run single in the top of the ninth after a double, a walk and a double steal by Jake Marasco and Eldredge.
That was more than enough support for Benjamin, who recorded his third victory of the season. He became the first Jayhawk freshman to toss a complete game shutout in the Ritch Price era.
KU will look to take the rubber game of the three-game set in Manhattan Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally by Fox College Sports.