Jayhawks Clinch Spot in Big 12 Championship, Knock Off Missouri, 6-3
May 18, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Freshman Wes Benjamin pitched 7 1/3 quality innings, allowing two runs on just four hits, while fellow freshman Michael Suiter went 2-for-4 with a pair of two-out RBIs Friday as Kansas earned a spot in next week's Big 12 Baseball Championship with a 6-3 triumph over Border Showdown rival Missouri Friday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks improved to 22-31 overall and 7-15 in the Big 12, while Missouri falls to 27-26 and 9-14 in conference play. The win secures a spot in next week's conference tournament for KU as one of the top eight teams in the league. KU can clinch the No. 7 seed in the tourney with a win tomorrow against Missouri or a loss by Kansas State at Texas Tech.
With the Wildcats' win over Texas Tech Friday night, KU sits ½ game ahead of K-State (7-16) for seventh in the Big 12 standings. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders (6-17) were eliminated from postseason play, falling 1 ½ games behind KU and one game behind K-State.
On Friday night, KU grabbed an early lead with four runs over the first three innings to back their freshman pitcher. Benjamin, who blanked K-State in his last start on May 12, held Missouri scoreless over the first 5 2/3 frames to run his streak to 16 2/3 innings without allowing a run. In his three starts in May, Benjamin has allowed four runs in 22 innings on the mound.
In Friday's game, the freshman lefty retired 12-straight Tigers hitters until Eric Garcia's one-out triple in the sixth. An RBI ground out by Dillon Everett gave Missouri its first run, but it came well after KU had taken a commanding lead.
After scoring just one run in Thursday night's win, the KU offense wasted little time taking the lead on Friday as Alex DeLeon collected an RBI with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first that scored Tucker Tharp, who led off the game with a walk.
In the second inning, KU struck again with Suiter collecting his first of two two-out RBIs with a base hit up the middle that plated Jordan Dreiling.
After Missouri went to the bullpen in the third inning, the Jayhawks stretched the lead to 4-0 as James Stanfield doubled home a run after an error and Zac Elgie collected an RBI ground out after DeLeon singled.
KU took advantage of an error on the catcher after Chris Manship struck out on a pitch in the dirt and reached when the throw pulled first baseman Andreas Plackis off the base. Suiter then followed with his second RBI single of the game, which answered a run Missouri scored in the top of the inning.
Freshman Robert Kahana got the final five outs of the night, including a strikeout of Brandon Champagne to finish the game. The Jayhawks mobbed their relief pitcher on the mound after clinching KU's third-straight series win over its Border Showdown rivals.
The Jayhawks have now won nine of their last 10 games against Missouri, including five-straight at Hoglund Ballpark. KU will look for the sweep Saturday afternoon with first pitched scheduled for 1 p.m. in Lawrence.