Judging by his follow-up to a query about Wichita State’s basketball team, WSU baseball coach Gene Stephenson probably wasn’t as interested in the outcome of that game as much as he was ready to get in the first barb at his own team.
"I hope they play better than us," was Stephenson’s response.
There were no more questions about Shocker basketball, but plenty more barbs following a 7-5 loss to Texas Pan-American on Friday afternoon at Eck Stadium.
The Broncs battered WSU ace Kris Gardner, hitting two of their three sixth-inning home runs against the Shocker left-hander, and WSU (7-5) couldn’t fully capitalize on the scoring chances it got after falling behind 6-1.
"Maybe they’ve been sleeping and not playing well," Stephenson said of the Broncs, who entered with a 2-7 record and a .226 team batting average. "We have to hit better than what we did. We’re just not very good. We don’t make adjustments and we keep doing the same things and we keep making the same outs. It’s frustrating to me because hitters can be stubborn people. Very stubborn."
Gardner escaped major damage during the first five innings, but only his 1-2-3 fourth offered hope of a successful ending to an otherwise mediocre outing.
Gardner allowed a run on two hits in the fifth and was completely solved by the sixth, when he gave up back-to-back homers to Will Klausing and Alberto Morales in a span of four innings to end Gardner’s second start.
Foster Vielock allowed the Broncs’ third homer off the inning; Pan American outhit WSU 13-9 and had six extra-base hits. The Shockers had four hits in the first six innings against Broncs starter Dylan Badura, and second baseman Dayne Parker had three of them.
"The deal is we didn’t square up many balls," Stephenson said. "Why? Because we didn’t look for one pitch or another. I don’t know what (the hitters) are doing, other than starting (their swings) too early and chasing stuff that’s not very good."
Badura’s change of speeds and slow delivery was a mismatch to Shocker hitters, other than Casey Gillaspie, who haven’t shown much early-season patience. WSU was on the verge of a breakthrough in several innings against Badura or the Pan American bullpen, but three innings ended on double plays.
Mistakes by the Broncs helped WSU as much as the Shockers’ own hitting, with runs scoring with aid from a hit by pitch in the second inning, a seventh-inning error and a passed ball in the eighth. The Broncs scored an insurance run in the ninth but Johnny Coy grounded out with the tying run on base.
"Pan American squared up a lot of balls today off a similar-type pitcher as Gardner," Stephenson said. "They squared up a lot of balls and we didn’t square up any. Other than Parker, we didn’t square up balls all day.
"We’re going to have to be better if we’re going to have a chance to beat anybody, let alone the next two games of this series. This is not pretty to watch, so something better change quickly."
E — Goulding, Engelhart. DP — Pan American 3, WSU. LOB — Pan American 8, WSU 8. 2B — Ramirez (2), Klemcke (1), Engelhart (2), Harbutz (2). HR — Klausing (1), Morales (1), Engelhart (1), Gillaspie (4). S — Klemcke, Engelhart, Huckabay, Parker. CS — Doggett, Klausing.
|Badura W,1-2||6 2/3||6||4||4||4||5||4.07|
PB — Huckabay. HBP — Harbutz (by Badura), Klausing (by Gardner), Green (by Torunaga). Umpires — Ben Aschwege, home; Phil Plantz, first; Bob Homolka, third. T — 2:44. A — 2,305.