Returning from a lackluster trip west, Wichita State had to deal with a snowy Eck Stadium field Tuesday night as well as icy bats.
The Shockers (13-11) were held to four hits until the eighth, when they used the familiar formula of a Johnny Coy home run to tie the score, then added another run to edge Air Force 3-2.
Three WSU pitchers allowed just one hit — a fourth-inning single by left fielder Alex Bast — and Air Force (8-14) also benefited from an unearned run in the top of the eighth for a 2-1 lead.
“Air Force was a very good team tonight,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. “They played well, and they pitched well. I thought all the pitchers threw well. And, they caught everything on defense.
“Had we caught everything on defense, we wouldn’t be behind.”
Meanwhile, the Shockers managed just seven hits in the game. But three of those came in the bottom of the eighth, the first when Coy connected for his first homer of the season, a towering one-out blast to center field off Dillon Freeman (0-2) that pulled the Shockers even, 2-2.
Stephenson said it was nice for Coy to get his first home run after 24 games. He hit nine last season.
“I’m sure it’s a big monkey off his back,” Stephenson said.
Erik Harbutz followed with a walk and took second on Micah Green’s single. One out later, freshman Tanner Dearman flared a single to left and Harbutz slid around the tag of Air Force catcher Garrett Custons for the go-ahead run.
Stephenson had predicted the RBI single, Dearman said afterward.
“It was pretty cool,” said Dearman, who had two singles and a walk in four plate appearances. “Gene told me before that I was going to get a hit, so that gave me a little edge coming in.”
Stephenson also said the WSU grounds crew had a hand in the victory.
“(They) worked all day getting the snow off of this field,” Stephenson said. “The snow was everywhere, and they hauled and shoveled snow out of here. That was huge for us.”
Sophomore A.J. Ladwig started for WSU, allowing just the hit to Bast, walking one and striking out two in four innings. Freshman Brandon Peterson and junior Albert Minnis (2-1) combined for five hitless innings, with Peterson striking out four of the 11 batters he faced.
The teams will turn around quickly for a 3 p.m. game Wednesday.
“It was a fun game for the fans to watch (Tuesday),” Stephenson said. “It wasn’t too much fun for me, because we were on edge all evening.
”They made the most of that one hit.”
E — Parker. LOB — Air Force 2, WSU 10. 2B — Gillaspie (8).HR — Coy (1). S — Parker. SF — Kline. SB — Kline (4), Bayliff (2), Dearman (2). CS — Bast, Haddox.
WP — Bertelson, Ladwig. HBP — Harbutz (by Trojan). Umpires — Clint Wheeler, home; Mike Lentz, first; Ben Harlow, third. T — 2:37. A — 2,498.