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Wichita State baseball beats North Dakota 9-3

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 7:20 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at 4:48 p.m.

Daniel Kihle is stuck in the middle of appreciating the playing time he’s getting as a freshman on Wichita State’s baseball team and wanting to play every day.

Shockers coach Gene Stephenson is employing a platoon system that puts Kihle in the lineup against left-handed pitchers but on the bench when a right-hander starts.

Kihle likely won’t supplant Garrett Bayliff as WSU’s primary right fielder, but if he continues to perform the way he did Wednesday in the Shockers’ 9-3 win over North Dakota at Eck Stadium, Kihle could earn more at-bats no matter who’s pitching.

Kihle reached base four times and hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning. WSU used nine right-handed hitters against UND southpaw Trent Egan and all of the part-timers performed well.

Kihle and fellow freshmen Parker Zimmerman and Tanner Kirk, along with junior outfielder Micah Green, combined for seven hits, four runs and six RBIs.

"It’s my job as a freshman to come in whenever (the coaches) tell me to and just do my job and get on base," Kihle said. "It’s a lot of fun coming in against lefties — it gives me a better opportunity to see the ball coming in. The coaches just want me to get used to that right now.

"The older guys are doing their jobs against righties, so I’ll just keep going against lefties and playing when they tell me to."

Kihle is being asked to ignite the offense as the leadoff man against lefties.

He did that job admirably on Wednesday, walking to start the WSU first inning, homering three innings later and reaching via a hit-by-pitch during a four-run seventh.

The other WSU platoon players followed Kihle’s lead — Zimmerman had a pair of hits, Kirk singled and scored on Kihle’s homer in the fourth, and Green had three hits, including a double and a three-run triple that broke it open in the seventh.

Their spots in the lineup are filled by Bayliff, Tyler Baker, Mikel Mucha and Cody Bobbitt against right-handers, but at the very least Stephenson has options if any of those players enters a prolonged slump.

"That is awesome," Green said. "We’ve got so many different guys that can step in whether they switch it to a righty or a lefty. Normally they’ll try to bring in an opposite-hand (pitcher) just to try to mess with us, but we’ve got so much depth that we can just bring in another guy."

Switch-hitters Erik Harbutz and Casey Gillaspie are naturally right-handed, giving the lineup extra power against lefties. Gillaspie had one hit to show for three line drives Wednesday, and Harbutz had two walks, a single and a triple.

The Shockers also may be better defensively, at least in the outfield, when facing a left-hander. Center fielder Taylor Doggett has impressive range, and as an occasional center fielder himself, Green gets to the balls Doggett can’t — they both chased down fly balls to the gaps on Wednesday.

"I love that," Green said. "We’ve got a lot of speed out there. Kihle (also) is definitely a speedster. We can cover a lot of ground out there."

North Dakotaabrhbibbsoavg
Threlkeld cf400001.233
Follis 3b302110.293
Kwak ss300121.292
Petersen c310010.243
Trygstad 1b300010.250
Campbell dh401101.146
Alt rf400001.259
Vandoorne 2b423000.371
Beck lf301000.125
Riewer lf100001.306
Totals3237366
Wichita State
Kihle rf211210.333
Doggett cf512001.359
Gillaspie 1b411010.333
Coy dh301011.246
Mucha pr010000.244
Moore dh100000.000
Harbutz 3b322020.357
Green lf523300.385
Parker 2b401100.320
Zimmerman c402100.364
Kirk ss411001.273
Totals35914753

North Dakota0001101003
Wichita State00320040x9

E — Kwak, Kirk. DP — ND 3, WSU 2. LOB — ND 9, WSU 9. 2B — Green (3). 3B — Harbutz (1), Green (1). HR — Kihle (1). S — Threlkeld. SB — Follis (1), Harbutz (4).

North Dakotaiphrerbbsoera
Egan L,0-261075538.36
Jungling2422001.80
Wichita State
Beringer4522223.00
LaBrie W,1-02 2/3211311.89
McGreevy1 1/3000003.21
Palmer1000134.37

PB — Zimmerman. HBP — Kihle 2 (by Egan, Jungling). Umpires — Dan Hoffman, home; Greg Mudd, first; Brice Glidewell, third. T — 2:23. A — 2,212.

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