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Late Rally Lifts K-State Baseball to Sunflower Showdown Opening Win


MANHATTAN, Kan. ( – Seven solid innings from Owen Boerema and a go-ahead RBI single by Nick English led K-State to a 3-2 triumph over rival Kansas in game one of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium.


“That was your classic Friday night Big 12 contest,” said K-State head coach Pete Hughes. “Two really good teams, two great starting pitching performances, home runs, big hits, pressure pitches being made, that’s what it’s all about.

“Every kid in that dugout, every coach on our staff, that’s what we signed up for, to be in high-pressure, meaningful games, and we just love seeing our kids compete in the performance-pressure situations,” Hughes said.

Trailing 2-1 headed into the bottom of the eighth inning, K-State (27-18, 11-11 Big 12) tied the game with a two-out double by Kaelen Culpepper until English drove the first pitch up the middle to score the deciding run.

The Jayhawks (26-16, 12-10 Big 12) challenged the lead in the final frame, as three consecutive walks loaded the bases with no outs against K-State closer Tyson Neighbors.

“There’s only one guy in our program that can pitch his way out of it, and it was the guy on the mound.”

Following a talk with his defense, Neighbors settled in and struck out the next batter before third baseman Jaden Parsons halted a liner from KU’s hot hitter Jake English, older brother of Nick English, to get the second out.

Now with two outs and bases loaded, Neighbors faced the 2023 Co-Big 12 Freshman of the Year Kodey Shojinaga. Neighbors worked his way out of a full count as he painted the outside corner to ring up Shojinaga to secure the Big 12 win and pick up his fifth save of the season.

“The last at-bat was with one of their best hitters and honestly, one of the toughest guys in their program to strike out and it’s a 3-2 count and then you throw a secondary pitch with 100% conviction. We got the strikeout, but only one guy can make those pitches in our program.”

Boerema turned in his third quality start of the season, as he held the Jayhawks to two earned runs on eight hits in his seven innings. After surrendering two runs on solo home runs, the graduate from Litchfield, Minn., retired 10 of the next 15 batters he faced, finishing the game with eight strikeouts and one walk.

In their 12th come-from-behind win of the season, the Wildcats extended their winning streak to seven against the Jayhawks while also snapping KU’s season-long, seven-game win streak.

Now with the second longest win streak against the Jayhawks, the Wildcats are one victory away from matching the program’s eight-game win streak set from April 23, 2006, to May 15, 2009.

Blake Dean logged a shutout inning in relief of Boerema and recorded a pair of strikeouts. Neighbors has picked up a save in his last three outings, totaling 16 in his career which ranks fourth all-time in school history.

Three Wildcats turned in multi-hit efforts led by Danniel Rivera, who went 3-for-3 with a walk. Culpepper and English each had two-hit days and drove in a run while Parsons scored two runs.

KU’s Reece Dutton (7-3) took the loss, surrendering three runs (all earned) on 10 hits with four walks in his 7 2/3 inning start.

The Wildcats pushed their first run across the plate in the opening frame, ending a 13-inning scoreless drought. After Dutton issued a walk to Parsons, the Cats’ third baseman stole second and advanced to third on an infield base hit from Culpepper.

Culpepper attempted to steal second and initiated a rundown allowing Parsons to score.

Two solo home runs by KU’s Ty Wisdom and Ben Hartl in the third and fourth handed the Jayhawks the one-run lead, 2-1.

The Jayhawks recorded a pair of hits in the seventh to make it a first and third situation, but a 4-6-3 double play ended threat and kept the game within one.

After six scoreless innings, the Wildcats broke through with the tying run as Culpepper delivered a two-out RBI double into left center to score Parsons from first.

Brady Day was intentionally walked to make it first and second before K-State grabbed the deciding run in the next at bat with base knock up the middle by English.


  • K-State scored three runs on 10 hits without an error and seven left on base.
  • KU scored two runs on eight hits with no errors and 10 left on base.
  • Boerema produced his third quality start of the season (7 IP, 2 ER), striking out eight.
  • Neighbors picked up his fifth of the season.
  • With a scoreless inning, Neighbors scoreless streak hit 7 1/3 innings (four appearances).
  • Dean logged a shutout inning in relief of Boerema and struck out two.
  • Culpepper doubled for K-State’s only extra-base hit.
  • Three players posted multi-hit games led by Rivera, who went 3-for-3 with a walk.
  • English drove in the deciding run with an RBI single in the eighth.
  • K-State was 6-for-12 (.500) with runners on base and hit .375 (3-for-8) with runners in scoring position.
  • KU hit .063 (1-for-16) with runners and was 1-for-10 with men in scoring position.
  • The Cats scored two two-out RBI in the eighth.


  • K-State holds a 192-188-1 edge in the all-time series, including a 56-36 record in Big 12 action.
  • With the win, the Cats extended their win streak against the Jayhawks to seven, dating back to May 7, 2022.
  • The Cats snapped KU’s season-long seven-game winning streak.
  • In the Hughes era, K-State is 8-7 against the Jayhawks.
  • K-State has recorded 12 come-from-behind victories this season.
  • The Wildcats are 3-0 this season against in-state rivals, including a home-and-home sweep over Wichita State.

Game two between the Wildcats and Jayhawks is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium. Saturday’s game features a projected matchup between right-handers Jackson Wentworth (3-2) and Dominic Voegele (6-2).