The top of the 11th inning went badly for Wichita State second baseman Dayne Parker, who couldn’t chase down a pop up in right field and got yelled at by pitching coach Brent Kemnitz. That’s the good thing about Parker — he can shake off the bad and get back to work.
Parker homered in the bottom of the 11th to tie the score, and his pop-up in the 12th inning scored Joe Haddox with the winning run in Wichita State’s 4-3 victory over Southern Illinois on Saturday at Eck Stadium.
The Shockers (20-18, 5-6 Missouri Valley Conference) earned their first come-from-behind win, when trailing after six innings, and won their fourth straight game. SIU (20-19, 3-8) lost for the fifth time in extra innings.
“Crazy,” Haddox said of Parker’s game-winning hit. “I really didn’t think it had a chance to fall.”
Nobody did off the bat, as the ball floated slowly toward shallow right field. SIU second baseman Connor Kopach raced out. Right fielder Jake Hand ran in. They looked at each other, hesitated, and watched the ball hit the turf untouched.
Haddox heard the crowd roar as he rounded third and raised his arms as he crossed home plate.
“I hit it and I was pretty (unhappy),” Parker said. “About the time I got to first, I saw them both look at each other and I figured it had a chance and it was going to fall. And it did, and I was like ‘I can’t believe this. How the heck does this happen.’ ”
Not without a lot of drama on a windy day.
Umpires ejected both coaches. Wichita State’s Casey Gillaspie homered for a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. SIU’s Ryan Casillas tied it with a home run in the ninth. The Salukis took a 3-2 lead on a pop up by Kopach that glanced off Parker’s glove and scored Jake Hand in the 11th.
Parker and Haddox both took the blame for that mistake in short right field. Parker called for the ball after running a long way, reached for it and couldn’t hold on. Kemnitz told anybody who would listen the play needed to be made.
“My message was: ‘I don’t care who, that’s ball’s got to be caught,’” Kemnitz said. “I’m sure (Parker) took it the most personal, and look what he did.”
Parker, a senior, quickly brushed off the unfortunate play. With one out in the bottom of the 11th, he turned on Tyler Dray’s first-pitch fastball and hit his first homer of the season down the left-field line.
“I don’t know if you all could hear him, but Brent kind of lit into me and let me know I’ve got to make that play, which I should,” he said. “That’s what we need —accountability. They know how to push our buttons. They know any time they ever want to get in my face it’s not going to do anything other than make me play better.”
Haddox ended a frustrating day for both offenses. Both teams totaled 13 hits. SIU stranded 11 runners and went 4 for 16 with runners in scoring position. WSU stranded 12. First-base umpire Greg Mudd ejected WSU coach Todd Butler in the sixth inning in a conflict with the Shocker dugout. Home-plate umpire Travis Olson tossed SIU coach Ken Henderson in the ninth after he argued a called third strike on Tyler Rolland.
Those frustrations floated away for the Shockers when Parker’s bloop landed safely. They haven’t won four in a row since February. They haven’t won five straight this season and haven’t swept an MVC series. Two wins moved WSU out of last place and a sweep can lift them back into the middle of the standings.
“If we want to be good, we have to win on Sundays,” Haddox said. “(Sunday) is really big day for us. We really, really need it.”