MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State’s A.J. Morris struck out nine batters in 6.2 innings and tied the single-season school record for wins as the Wildcats held on for a 6-4 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M in the second game of a double-header Friday evening at Tointon Family Stadium.
With the win, Kansas State improved 25-9 overall and 6-5 in Big 12 play, while Texas A&M dropped to 21-13 overall and 8-6 in conference action. The K-State win was the first against the Aggies since an 11-6 victory on May 13, 2007, ending a five-game drought.
Morris, the nation’s leader in wins, earned his ninth triumph in as many starts, tying the K-State season record with four former players. The last Wildcat to win nine games was Brad Hutt, who went 9-4 in 2006. In the victory Friday, Morris allowed a season-high four runs three of which were earned on seven hits, but did not walk a batter. The right-hander also picked up his 17th career victory, moving into a tie for fourth place in Kansas State history.
Thomas Rooke came on in relief of Morris and registered his first career save as he threw 2.1 innings of one-hit ball with three strikeouts.
Texas A&M starter Alex Wilson (3-4) took the loss, allowing five of the six Wildcat runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings, but struck out 10 batters.
Kansas State was led offensively by Jordan Cruz, who went 2-for-4 with his second triple of the season and equaled his season high with three RBI. Justin Bloxom and Rob Vaughn also went 2-for-4. Vaughn, Jason King and Dane Yelovich each drove in one run.
Just as it did in the first game of the day-night double-header, Kansas State scored first as the Wildcats plated three runs in the second inning. Bloxom and King reached on a single and a walk, respectively, before Drew Biery sacrificed both runners into scoring position.
Cruz was next and, on a 2-2 pitch, laced a single into center field to give K-State a 2-0 lead. Cruz then stole second and scored on a Yelovich single to right field.
The Cats tacked on another two runs in the fourth. Biery singled with one out and came around to score on Cruz’s triple off the center-field wall. Vaughn followed with a perfect suicide squeeze bunt that allowed Cruz to score as Vaughn reached first. K-State had a chance to lock away the game in the frame when Yelovich was hit by a pitch and Adam Muenster walked to load the bases. But Wilson struck out Carter Jurica and Nick Martini to end the threat and keep the score at 5-0.
Following a scoreless fifth, Texas A&M came charging back with two runs in each of the next two innings. Adam Smith reached on an error to lead off the sixth before Kyle Colligan homered over the right-field wall, his fifth home run of the season.
The Aggies' third run also came via the long ball in the seventh when Brodie Greene hooked a ball inside the left-field foul pole for a one-out homer. With two outs, Smith doubled to left-center field before Colligan singled to pull A&M within one at 5-4.
The Wildcats got a much-needed insurance run in the seventh on consecutive two-out doubles by Biery and King to push the score to 6-4.
That's all the scoring the Cats needed as Rooke shut down the Aggies in order the next two innings to even the series at one game apiece.
Greene led all Aggie batters with a 3-for-4 performance, while Colligan finished 2-for-4 with three RBI.
The rubber match between Kansas State and Texas A&M is set for a 2 p.m., first pitch on Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium.