K-State senior Hanz Harker delivered a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning to clinch a series victory over Kansas, 7-6, in head coach Brad Hill’s final home game Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium.
“That was fun,” Hill said following his 465th career victory. “The kids’ fight, that’s what I wanted to remember going out of this program. That’s how it’s supposed to be played right there, those are the expectations of how we fight and not quit. Kids did that today, no question.”
K-State (20-30, 5-19 Big 12) erased an early 4-0 deficit behind senior Kyle Barfield’s game-tying grand slam in the fourth. The Wildcats took a 5-4 lead in the sixth on an RBI triple by Barfield, only to see KU (23-27, 6-14 Big 12) score single runs in the ninth and 10th innings to take a one-run lead.
Drew Mount and Trent McMaster each tripled in the 10th to tie the game at 6-6 before the Cats loaded the bases with nobody out in the 11th off KU reliever Zack Leban. Harker’s game-winning hit was preceded by a hit by pitch, walk and a Will Brennan single.
“They showed a lot of confidence, there was no panic,” added the 15th-year skipper. “You saw better at-bats in the game. Just great, great performances by a number of kids. That’s what it takes to win in this league and what it takes to win period.”
“I was sitting fastball,” Harker said of his 11th-inning at-bat. “The infielders were in, so I was just trying to do something to get it behind them and score.
“I’m glad we could take down the Jayhawks in [Coach Hill’s] final series here at Tointon. That was special for all of us, especially the seniors, being our last home game. Going out on a walk-off against the Jayhawks is something really special.”
“Absolutely not,” Barfield said when asked if he had any doubt the Cats would come back after facing multiple deficits. “We have confidence in everybody, 1-9, no matter what.”
Barfield drove in a career-high five runs in the game, going 2-for-5 with his first career slam. It was his third home run of the season and fourth grand slam hit by a Wildcat this year.
Brennan and Mount each went 3-for-5 to lead the Cats. Mount recorded his team-leading seventh triple.
Brennan started the game on the mound, allowing four earned runs on five hits over his four innings with four strikeouts.
Junior Brogan Heinen picked up the victory after holding KU scoreless over the game’s final 1 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit.
Leban suffered the loss, giving up two earned runs on four hits over an inning of work.
Back-to-back base hits to begin the second inning, a double by Brendt Citta followed by an RBI single from Brett Vosik, handed KU a 1-0.
Citta had a game-high four hits, going 4-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored.
A three-run fourth inning for the Jayhawks pushed their lead four runs. The frame included an RBI single from Luke Bakula and a two-out RBI double from Rudy Karr as KU had three hits in the inning off Brennan.
After Barfield’s game-tying grand slam, he drove in his fifth run of the game in the bottom of the sixth with a go-ahead triple off KU reliever Tyler Davis. Barfield, who drove home Trent McMaster who earlier singled, was the first batter Davis faced.
Jaxon Passino and Tyler Eckberg combined to hold the Jayhawks scoreless over four innings until Citta’s RBI double off Eckberg tied the game in the top of the ninth.
David Kyriacou put Kansas in front in the top of the 10th with a solo homer before McMaster’s game-tying triple in the home half.
K-State scored five of its seven runs with two outs in the game while the Jayhawks stranded 13 runners on base.
All three games in the series were decided by a single run.
KU starter Taylor Turski struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings, yielding five earned runs on five hits in a no-decision effort.
The Wildcats end their season on a four-game road trip, beginning with a Tuesday night matchup at Wichita State before heading to San Francisco for a three-game series.