Oklahoma City Junior Thomas Taylor allowed three runs in a complete-game effort, lifting Kansas University to a 5-3 win over Texas A&M; on Friday in the Big 12 Conference baseball tournament.
“We sent Thomas out to let him finish it and reward him for his performance on the mound,” said coach Ritch Price. “I’ve been coaching 34 years and never had a kid throw 150 pitches. He’s trying to play professional baseball, he’s got a huge stage out there tonight and the game is on the line. If we were going to lose it, he was going to be the guy to throw the last pitch.”
Taylor (5-7) gave up seven hits and struck out nine, helping the seventh-seeded Jayhawks (24-33) continue their tournament run a day after eliminating third-seeded Texas. In the first complete game of his career, Taylor threw 157 pitches, topping his previous high of 116 against Stony Brook on March 9.
Kansas next faces Missouri today at 12:30 p.m. and must defeat the Tigers twice to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
“Yesterday when Missouri beat (Texas A&M;) they were just attacking them with fastballs the whole game, and that was our game plan today,” said Taylor. “My arm felt great, I think the humidity helped keep me loose. I just wanted to go out there and keep throwing until he came and got me since it could have been our last game of the year.”
The second-seeded Aggies, who beat the Jayhawks, 10-4, in the opening round on Wednesday, led 2-0 after the top of the first following a two-run double by Jacob House.
Dakota Smith answered with a two-run home run for Kansas in the second, and Jordan Dreiling put the Jayhawks up for good in the fourth with a two-run triple.
Ross Stripling (10-3) took the loss for Texas A&M; (42-16)
“For some reason we’ve been lucky against A&M; this season,” said Dreiling. “I just tried to stay aggressive against Stripling. He’s a fastball thrower. I just tried to go up there and swing at the first pitch and luckily I got a couple out there.”
Kansas took two of three from Missouri to end the regular season last week. They must take two more from the Tigers to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament.
“I don’t think you can script it any better for us,” said Price. “It’s been one of the greatest rivalries in college sports. If it’s going to be the final time we play them as members of the Big 12 Conference there is going to be a lot at stake and I think that’s how every Jayhawk would want it to be.”