German Fajardo delivered for Kansas State, throwing 7.1 innings in a 7-1 win against Kansas at the Big 12 Championship Friday. (Photo Courtesy of the Big 12 Conference)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
ARLINGTON, Texas – A pair of in-state rivals looked to keep their conference tournament hopes alive, but only one moved on, as Kansas State brought both offense and hot pitching to defeat the University of Kansas 7-1 and eliminate the Jayhawks from the Big 12 conference tournament.
German Fajardo pitched lights out for the Wildcats and kept his composure as he went 7.1 innings and allowed just five hits, walked one and struck out nine.
“I felt good in my command today, just staying in the moment you know, staying calm. I feel like my past two outings I was a little bit too excited, but today I kind of kept my emotions down. Just stayed calm and just let myself work and trusted my stuff,” Fajardo said.
The Wildcats got on the board in the bottom of the second when Kaelen Culpepper drove a home run to left field, plating Brady Day and Nick Goodwin to make it 3-0.
In the top of the third inning, Kansas catcher Jake English drove a solo home run over the left field wall to make it 3-1.
Jayhawks starting pitcher Sam Ireland went three innings, allowing three hits, three earned runs, walking two, and striking out four.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Wildcats would capitalize on a huge defensive miscue when catcher Raphael Pelletier popped up to Jayhawks second baseman Kodey Shojinag. Shojinag dropped the pop-up to load the bases with just one out.
The next batter, first baseman Roberto Pena, hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Culpeper came in to score to make it 4-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kansas State added more when third baseman Kaelen Culpepper drove a single through the left side of the infield and Brady Day and Nick Goodwin came in to score to make it 7-1.
“Just what you needed on day three of the tournament is an outstanding pitching performance and a lengthy start. That was the key to the entire game, and German was so good, he allowed us some time to build a lead,” said Kansas State head coach Pat Hughes. “We got clutch hits from Casey all day, you know the big three-run homer. It just gives you momentum and it takes a lot of pressure out of your dugout. A three-run lead allows German to settle in and be a little more aggressive with his pitches.
Kansas State is still alive, hoping to win their first Big 12 Championship in the history of the program, and will play No. 4 TCU on Saturday at 10 a.m. EDT on ESPN+.
Saturday Big 12 Championship Schedule
Game 11: 10 a.m EDT – (4) TCU vs. (5) Kansas State
Game 12: 1:30 p.m. EDT – (6) Texas Tech vs. (2) Oklahoma State
Game 13: 5 p.m. EDT – Game 11 Loser vs. Game 11 Winner (if necessary) – ESPN+
Game 14: 5 p.m. EDT or 8:30 p.m. EDT – Game 12 Loser vs. Game 12 Winner (if necessary) – ESPN+