The No. 6 seed Jayhawks downed the No. 2 seed Oklahoma State Cowboys 5-3 for their second straight victory at the Big 12 Tournament on Friday at Bricktown Ballpark. They are now one win away from playing for an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Reaching the postseason was their top goal before arriving in Oklahoma City. It remains within reach thanks to a key home run from Tucker Tharp, a timely RBI single from Alex Suiter and the composure of closer Jordan Piche, who stymied Oklahoma States comeback chances in the final two innings for his 11th save.
Kansas took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and held it until the top of the fifth behind the quality pitching of starter Wes Benjamin, but Oklahoma State quickly took a 2-1 lead after chasing him and held a 3-2 lead after six innings.
The light-hitting Jayhawks appeared to be in trouble, but a two-run seventh inning swung the game in their favor. Tharp got the rally going with his first homer of the season a deep blast to left-center and Suiter drove in the go-ahead run to put Kansas up 4-3. The Jayhawks added an insurance run in the eighth, and Piche finished things off in the ninth.
It was another gutsy showing for Kansas, which entered the Big 12 Tournament on a six-game losing streak and out of the mix for an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament. Few predicted the Jayhawks to be in the mix for a Big 12 Tournament championship. If they beats No. 7 seed TCU at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, they will reach the final, where they will face Kansas State or Oklahoma.