STILWELL, KS — After falling into a 3-1 deficit in the opening round of the Alumni Cup test on Friday, KU’s chances when play resumed on Sunday looked a lot like the weather — cold and bleak. No worries though, KU came out on fire and swept the third round to move out to an improbable 4-3 lead. All of the sudden scratching their way to tie to force an extra round doubles match changed to “we can win this now.”
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The third round momentum switch occurred when KU’s #2 Kevin Thornton pulled off a 32-27 upset win over KSU’s #1 Steve McMahon. With KU’s #1 Dylan Goodwin taking a predicted win over KSU’s #2 Greg Lloyd 32-4, the Jayhawk alumns pulled to 3-3. The Thornton win was a shocker in that he had dropped the matchup with Greg Lloyd on Friday night 32-29.
But there was more. The final game between the number three’s was still in progress and all of the other test players got a chance to watch the action. Playing in just his third partner ball nine-wicket game KU’s Chris Ward was able to sneak out a 32dp-13 win over KSU’s Chris Stephens. That’s right — a double peel for the win.
With a 4-3 lead going into the fourth round, KU was playing with house money. In the #1’s game, Goodwin established a commanding lead and control early Steve McMahon. On court one, KSU’s Lloyd played to form and beat Ward 32-10 to briefly tie the test at 4-4. Despite a few end game flubs, Goodwin finished McMahon 32-6 and a 5-4 lead to KU.
All eyes then turned to the Thornton-Stephens matchup. Thornton had established a good lead and control of the game, but Stephens did have some late openings that allowed him to disrupt Thornton’s march to the test-clinching victory. Eventually though, Thornton lined things out and pegged both balls for 32-23 win.
The 6-4 overall win was KU’s third straight in the young history of the Alumni Cup. KSU won the first Alumni Cup event in 2008.
All of the singles matches ended with double-peg winners which demonstrates that club is probably ready to upgrade from the Oakley Woods sport wickets. The fields were fast with just enough un-predictability to offer up some good plot twists.
FRIDAY, MAY 13
Round One – 5:00 p.m.
KU-Goodwin/Thornton vs KSU-Lloyd/McMahon (KSU 20-17)
Round Two – 6:30 p.m.
KU-Goodwin vs KSU-Stephens (KU 32-8)
KSU-McMahon vs KU-Ward (KSU 32-20)
KU-Thornton vs KSU-Lloyd (KSU 32-29)
SUNDAY, MAY 15
Round Three – 1:00 p.m.
KU Goodwin vs KSU Lloyd (KU 32-4)
KSU McMahon vs KU Thornton (KU 32-27)
KU Ward vs KSU Stephens (KU 32dp-13)
Round Four – 2:30 p.m.
KU Goodwin vs KSU McMahon (KU 32-6)
KU Thornton vs KSU Stephens (KU 32-23)
KSU Lloyd vs KU Ward (KSU 32-10)