Consistency has escaped the Wichita State baseball team to this point in the season and Saturday’s doubleheader against Illinois State at Eck Stadium provided the perfect example.
In game one, WSU went seven straight innings without a hit, doled out six walks and committed three errors in a 7-3 loss.
But the flip side is what gives this team hope.
Wichita State vanquished its first-game troubles with a redemptive 12-2 victory over the Redbirds in the second game.
“Once we start clicking on all cylinders, it’s going to be a deadly combination,” WSU’s game one starter Kris Gardner said.
It didn’t take the Shockers long to rid themselvies of the bad performance of the first game.
Johnny Coy started a two-out rally with his single into the right-center gap to advance Garrett Bayliff to third base. Tyler Baker, Micah Green and Dayne Parker all came through with RBI singles, while another run scored when Cody Bobbit was hit by a pitch.
After it was over, WSU led 5-0 and sent 11 hitters to the plate in the first inning.
That’s something that never came close to happening in the first game, but Gardner had an inkling might.
“Our guys are too good to be held down like that again,” Gardner said before the second game started. “You have a lot of guys with talent that can hit. I think we’re maybe pressing a little bit and it’s not coming as easy as we thought it would.”
Gardner was never able to settle into a groove in the opener. He left a fastball hanging on a 1-2 count to the lead-off hitter and paid for it with a triple to start the game. Things never really improved after that.
Gardner was pulled before the sixth inning after allowing six hits, three earned runs, issuing one walk and two strikeouts with WSU trailing 3-1.
And the Shockers could have had a shot if not for a throwing error that allowed an additional run to score in the sixth inning to make Illinois State’s lead grow to 5-1.
After the second inning, Wichita State did not produce a hit until the ninth inning.
“That was definitely not like our team,” Gardner said.
The other version didn’t show up until the second game.
Wichita State led 8-0 after the third inning and tacked on two more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to improve its record to 16-12.
Bayliff was 4 for 6 with three RBIs and two runs, while Coy and Baker each had three hits. Baker, Harbutz and Parker drove in two runs each.
Reliever Aaron LaBrie added 2 1/3 more scoreless innings to his slate and now has a 0.75 ERA on the season.
“Good teams usually have their hitting pick up when their pitching isn’t on and vice versa,” Gardner said. “That’s what we need to get back to.”
Illinois State 7, WSU 3
E — Kelch 2, Dearman, Zimmerman 2. DP — . LOB — Illinois State 8, WSU 11. 3B — Kay (2). HR — Johnson (5). SF — Hinshaw 2. SB — Johnson (2), Kay (8), Beesley (3), Haddox (3).
WP — Peterson, Vielock. HBP — Gillaspie (by Savas). PB — Hollenbeck. Umpires — Jeff Spisak, home; Travis Olson, first; Greg Harmon, third. T — 2:38.
WSU 12, Illinois State 2
Game halted by run rule with one out in eighth.
E — DeJong, Harbutz. DP — WSU 3 LOB — Illinois State 8, WSU 13. 2B — Vallandingham (2), Aguilera (9), Coy (5), Harbutz (4), Haddox (2). S — Beesley, Bobbit. SB — Hinshaw (12).
|Ladwig W,3-2||5 2/3||8||0||0||2||6||4.41|
WP — Sorkin. PB — Baker. HBP — Bobbit, Parker (by Sorkin). Umpires — Travis Olson, home; Greg Harmon, first; Jeff Spisak, third. T — 2:27. A — 2,688 .