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Shockers start series with a win, for a change Shockers get rare win in Valley series opener

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 11, 2012, at 11:47 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 20, 2014, at 6:22 p.m.

Shocker report

Bradley

ab

r

h

bi

bb

so

avg

Godinez 2b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.336

Tauchman lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.278

Murphy cf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.307

Partyka dh

4

0

0

0

0

2

.292

Leblebijian ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.240

Jarvis c

3

0

1

0

0

0

.235

Schuch rf

2

0

0

0

1

0

.273

Sprout 1b

2

0

1

0

0

0

.211

Compitello 3b

3

1

2

1

0

0

.377

Totals

30

1

5

1

1

5

Wichita State

Harbutz ss

5

0

1

0

0

1

.280

Parker 2b

5

0

1

0

0

0

.306

Green lf

5

2

3

0

0

0

321

Hall pr/cf

0

1

0

0

0

0

.257

Coy dh

4

2

2

2

1

1

.332

Gillaspie 1b

5

1

5

1

0

0

.290

Lambert rf

4

1

2

1

1

1

.307

Rea 3b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.226

Hege ph

0

0

0

0

1

0

.256

Halbert pr/3b

1

0

1

1

0

0

.160

Baker c

4

0

1

1

0

1

.194

Doggett cf/lf

3

0

0

1

0

1

.297

Totals

38

7

16

7

3

6

More information

— Paul Suellentrop

Bradley at Wichita State

When: 2 p.m. today

Where: Eck Stadium

Pitchers: BU, RH Justin Ziegler (3-4, 5.37 ERA); WSU, LH Kris Gardner (4-1, 2.57)

Records: BU 25-20-1, 8-11 MVC; WSU 30-22, 8-8

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

More information

Bradley

001

000

000

1 5 1

Wichita State

000

004

12X

7 16 2

E - Leblebijian (10), Rea (1), Halbert (1). LOB - BU 4, WSU 11. 2B - Gillaspie (9), HR - Compitello (2), Coy (7). SH - Sprout (2). SF - Doggett (1). CS - Tauchman (3).

Bradley

ip

h

r

er

bb

so

era

Bircher L,7-2

6

11

5

5

3

3

2.45

Adkins

2

5

2

2

0

3

5.34

Wichita State

Smith W,6-4

8

5

1

1

1

3

2.84

Vielock

1

0

0

0

0

2

1.59

Umpires - Home, Mike Grace; First, Terry Harrison; Third, John Routh. T - 2:07. A: 3,620

Last night at Eck

Shocker pitcher Josh Smith started his career as a walk-on and is finishing it as WSU’s No. 1 starter. He walked off the mound at Eck Stadium for the final time after dealing one of his better outings. He held Bradley to one run over eight innings, his longest stay of the season.

“I knew it was my last night, but I didn’t think anything about it, too much,” he said. “I wasn’t going to stress over it or pressure myself. I just wanted to go out and have fun.”

Smith wore the hard-luck loser label several times this season. On Friday, WSU’s offense gave him plenty of run support. He did his part by keeping the Braves under control after giving up a third-inning home run. After that, only two runners reached scoring position, one after a fielding error by third baseman Josh Halbert in the eighth inning.

Smith struck out three and walked one, providing a vintage performance with good control and mixture of pitches to keep hitters guessing wrong. He moved his fastball around to maxiumum effect.

“I was throwing it late in counts, even when I was getting ahead,” he said. “I really just put it where I wanted it.”

Definitely defense

WSU committed two errors on Friday, so the statistics will overshadow several big plays turned in by fielders.

Catcher Tyler Baker caught Derek Sprout napping at second base in the second inning and picked him off, with second baseman Dayne Parker on the tag. That ended the inning with two runners on. Baker, a freshman, also picked off a runner at second in Sunday’s win at Indiana State.

“He’s not afraid to do it, and I think that’s what makes him a good catcher,” Smith said. “He has no fear of throwing down to second like that.”

In the fifth, with Bradley up 1-0, center fielder Taylor Doggett threw out Bob Schuch at home after David Compitello spanked a single up the middle. Baker took the throw just a bit toward third base and remained in position to make the tag on the sliding runner. Baker’s patience made the play possible, WSU coach Gene Stephenson said.

“He didn’t go and try to get the ball,” Stephenson said. “He stayed and held his ground. That’s what we try to teach our guys to do all the time, but sometimes it doesn’t work. They get anxious and they want to go get the ball, and that’s the worst thing they can do.”

Doggett also gave much of the credit to Baker.

“Tyler did a heck of a job of just sitting back and letting the ball come to him,” Doggett said.

Shortstop Erik Harbutz shouldn’t get neglected when recounting the defensive highlights. He made a diving catch to rob Schuch of a base hit in the seventh inning.

Suspension stands

Tyler Coughenour remains suspended, although athletic director Eric Sexton cleared Stephenson to make a decision on his future. Stephenson is choosing to keep Coughenour, a sophomore, out of practices and games.

“He is not off the suspension,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson declined to comment on the possibility of his return this season.

Sexton suspended Coughenour, an infielder from Collegiate, for an unspecified violation of team rules on April 3. He played in 20 games, starting 15 at second base, and hit .250 with five stolen bases. He started 43 games as a freshman, hitting .259.

Sexton had the first call on ending the suspension, contingent on Coughenour’s behavior.

“He has done everything that he needs to do,” Sexton said. “But, the final decision on whether he will play or not is up to the baseball program.”

Worth noting

WSU opened a conference series with a win for the first time since winning at Illinois State on April 6.… WSU first baseman Casey Gillaspie went 5 for 5, joining Johnny Coy as Shockers with five hits this season in a game. Coy, who went 2 for 4, homered in the eighth innining, his seventh of the season. It broke a six-game homer drought for the Shockers.… Micah Green went 3 for 5 to improve his average to .321 and a team-leading .364 in MVC games.… Bradley starter Joe Bircher struck out three, a season-low. He entered the game with 99 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings, ranking fifth nationally to start the week.

Not to get too dramatic, but that sixth inning mattered a lot for Wichita State. Everybody knew it. The scoreless Shockers trailed Bradley by a run and remained stuck in neutral for a fourth straight Missouri Valley Conference series opener, looking punchless against pitcher Joe Bircher.

“It was getting late in the ball game,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. “We needed to have something happen, because we were down and he was very much in command up to that point.”

Then, Micah Green singled and the middle of the order came up big and the Shockers rolled to a 7-1 win to start a conference series with a win for the first time since April 6. For a team desperately fighting to move into the MVC’s upper division and make its NCAA at-large hopes more than a dream, that was one WSU had to get.

The win moved WSU from fifth into a tie for third in the MVC with Illinois State. The Shockers defeated Bradley for a 28th straight time at Eck Stadium.

The Shockers (30-22, 8-8 MVC) roughed up Bircher, a senior lefty, for 11 hits and five runs in six innings. They scored four runs in the sixth and knocked out Bircher after two runners reached in the seventh. It was Bircher’s shortest outing since Feb. 17 and the most hits allowed in 13 starts. After scoring one run in three previous MVC series openers, the Shockers solved one of the conference aces.

“We figured out he was human,” Green said. “We felt really good once we saw him one time through the lineup. He could hit his spots, but we still needed to put the ball in play.”

WSU did just that in the sixth, helped by a Bradley (25-20, 8-11) error. With Green on first, Johnny Coy smacked a high chopper to shortstop Jason Leblebijian. Coy, running with a sore left hamstring, hustled to first. The throw bounced and first baseman Derek Sprout couldn’t glove the ball. Coy reached and Green went to third on the error.

“I was pretty impressed Johnny beat that out, because his hamstring has been hurting him,” Green said.

The Shockers stranded two runners in the second and two more in the fourth. Given a third chance, they took advantage. Casey Gillaspie, on his way to a 5-for-5 night, doubled to the wall in left to score Green and tie the game 1-all. Don Lambert singled up the middled to score Coy for a 2-1 lead. A walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Hege loaded the bases. Tyler Baker smacked a 1-2 pitch off the third baseman’s glove to drive in another run. Taylor Doggett’s sacrifice fly scored Lambert for a 4-1 lead.

“He handcuffed us for five innings,” Stephenson said. “We had some really good at-bats in the sixth inning, and that gave us some breathing room.”

WSU starter Josh Smith didn’t give the Braves much hope after they took a 1-0 lead in the third. He retired Bradley in order in the fourth. He faced the minimum in the sixth by picking off Mike Tauchman after a leadoff single. In the eighth, he worked around a two-base error by third baseman Josh Halbert by getting three flyballs for outs.

“He had a good, live fastball,” Stephenson said. “But these guys are a pretty good fastball hitting team. It was another blue-collar effort on his part.”

WSU’s defense helped Smith out of two jams. In the second, Baker picked off Sprout at second base for the final out of the inning with two runners on . In the fifth, Doggett threw out Bob Schuch at home from center field on a single by David Compitello, holding Bradley’s lead at 1-0.

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