Kansas takes control in the ninth and beats Kansas State in the opener of the Big 12 Tournament

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Hunter Cranton struck out two in the ninth inning to help earn his seventh save and No. 7 seed Kansas held off sixth-seeded Kansas State 2-1 on Tuesday in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas (30-21), which is playing in the tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2017-19, avenged last year's season-ending 7-1 tournament loss to Kansas State to advance to the winner's bracket. Kansas State (31-23) also continues in the double-elimination tournament.

Kansas broke a tie in the ninth when Lenny Ashby sent a fly ball to the wall, resulting in a triple and Collier Cranford hit a sacrifice fly to bring in pinch runner Sam Hunt.

Cranton struck out the first two batters, then got the previously 3-for-3 Kaelen Culpepper to fly out.

Kansas opened the scoring in the fourth when Ben Hartl hit a solo shot to left center for his 11th homer of the season.

Culpepper tied it with an RBI single in the fifth. Culpepper and David Bishop each went 3 for 4.

Kansas starter Evan Shaw allowed only one run and four hits in five innings, while striking out six. Reliever Tegan Cain (1-2) retired the side in order in the eighth to help earn his first win of the season.

Tyson Neighbors (1-2) took the loss for Kansas State.


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