Tobin Mateychick’s last start for Wichita State’s baseball team before Tuesday was on March 2, so he had a lot of ground to make up on his best friend, Casey Gillaspie.
While Mateychick waited, Gillaspie led the WSU offense, approaching numbers through 14 games this season that it took all of last year to establish.
Gillaspie stayed ahead in the race for dorm-room bragging rights, homering in the Shockers’ 6-1 win over North Dakota on Tuesday afternoon at Eck Stadium. But Mateychick, a senior right-hander, has plenty to gloat about now, too.
Continuing to rebound from a difficult start to the season, Mateychick owned UND, establishing a career-high with seven strikeouts, including five in a row to start the game, and facing the minimum until the fifth inning.
Gillaspie hit a solo home run in the fourth, his sixth of the season as he quickly approaches the eight he hit as a freshman last year.
"Casey’s my best friend here," Mateychick said. "He’s my roommate. We go back and forth, back and forth and give each other a hard time, but that kid can absolutely play. I love him to death and I hope nothing but the best for him."
While Gillaspie is firmly planted in the middle of the WSU batting order, Mateychick is looking to establish his role as a mid-week starter who can help during weekend series if needed.
Mateychick missed most of last season following elbow surgery and allowed six runs in one-third of an inning in his first outing this year. In his last two starts he has shown the abilities of a pitcher who can stabilize the rotation by posting quality starts against non-conference opponents.
Mateychick is still working on his durability following the injury. He left his previous start after 5 1/3 innings and didn’t make it out of the sixth again Tuesday despite his early dominance. He allowed three of the final six hitters to reach base before coach Gene Stephenson removed him mid-batter.
"Continue to grow, continue to get better," Stephenson said of his expectations for Mateychick’s final season at WSU. "I think he will. He just needs to focus all the time on all of his pitches, all the time on every batter. At times he seems to ... lose feel of what’s going on, and he gets behind in the count.
"I thought he threw awfully well today. He did a good job."
The Shockers (10-5) seemed poised for another breakout hitting performance after a 10-run inning led them to a 15-8 win over Texas Pan-American on Saturday night. That didn’t materialize, but the six runs they posted over the first four innings proved sufficient.
Tanner Dearman and Dayne Parker had two-RBI singles and Gillaspie lined a homer well beyond the right-field fence to contiune his torrid pace. Gillaspie hit a grand slam against UTPA and owns an .811 slugging percentage, more than 200 points better than the next-best Shocker, Tyler Baker.
"He’s a good hitter," Stephenson said. "It’s fun for all of our guys when they’re swinging the bat well. There were a number of guys who did a good job offensively. We had a couple hit-and-runs that went our way and we had some key hits with two outs. Those were huge."
E — Kwak, Threlkeld. DP — ND 3, WSU. LOB — ND 7, WSU 6. 2B — Parker (2). HR — Gillaspie (6). SF — Alt, Coy. SB — Harbutz (3), Bayliff (1).
WP — Mateychick. Umpires — Mike Lentz, home; Sean Bolte, first; Phil Plantz, third. T — 2:23. A — 2,191.