Wichita State won’t play another midweek game until 2015, by which time coach Todd Butler wants to field a team with a better chance to compete against the schools that traditionally haunt the Shockers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Kansas State ended WSU’s miserable season of midweek games with a 10-4 win over WSU on Tuesday at Eck Stadium. The Wildcats (24-25), last place in the Big 12, ended a six-game losing streak and swept the Shockers for the second straight season.
WSU (25-24) lost its fourth straight midweek game. After a promising start that included a win at Oklahoma State and a split at Arizona State, the Shockers finished 4-9 in midweek games. Midweek games expose pitching depth and WSU just didn’t have enough to compete with the Big 12, SEC and Big 10 opponents. The Shockers hitters failed to rough up the lesser lights of those staffs.
“We have a long ways to go to play with the Big 12,” Butler said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us in recruiting and building a team that will fight and compete for nine innings in midweek. The guys are going out and giving what they can … but I guess we have a long way to go.”
Six regular-season games remain, all in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers can look like a different team on the weekend, when it usually can count on strong starting pitching.
“It’s tough to get it together on the midweek,” second baseman Dayne Parker said. “We can’t get everybody going, hitting, at the same time.”
The Wildcats rapped out 15 hits against four Shocker pitchers. Center fielder Ross Kivett went 3 for 4, scored two runs and made a crucial catch in the sixth inning. First baseman Shane Conlon drove in two runs, as did catcher Blake DeBord.
The Wildcats led 5-3 in the sixth when Kivett ruined a rally with a great catch in center field. With Tyler Baker on first, Parker smoked a ball to center, chasing Kivett toward the 390 sign. He reached out and grabbed the ball while Baker rounded second. The Wildcats doubled him off first base easily to end the inning.
“I thought it was over his head for sure,” Parker said. “I knew I hit it really good. I thought I had it in the gap, and so did Baker. I would have done the same thing in his position, trying to get something going.”
Kansas State erased WSU’s 1-0 lead with two runs in the fourth and added three more in the fifth to go up 5-1.
WSU cut the lead to 5-3 in the fifth with four singles off reliever Jordan Floyd. Daniel Kihle andGarrett Bayliff drove in runs, but even that rally seemed unsatisfying when Casey Gillaspie bounced into a double play to end the inning.
Even more unsatisfying was the first, when the Shockers loaded the bases against freshman Jake Fromson with no outs and managed one run. WSU got its run on Chase Simpson’s sacrifice fly, scoring Kihle. Bayliff tried to tag from second. Left fielder Mitch Meyer threw him out on a close play, despite Bayliff’s protest that his hand beat the tag. Baker followed with a well-struck ball that pushed left fielder Max Brown to the warning track before he caught the ball.
“That definitely hurt,” Butler said. “Bayliff was a little bit late getting to the bag and tagging.”
WSU starter Kris Gardner pitched three shutout innings before struggling in his second trip through the lineup.
The Wildcats solved Gardner in the fourth inning with four singles and speed that forced a WSU mistake. Kivett, after a leadoff single, ran with the pitch to Shane Conlon, who stroked a single to center. Kivett went to third and Kihle’s throw short-hopped third baseman Chase Simpson, bounced away from Gardner and into the Wildcats dugout.
Kivett scored and Conlon moved to third on the throwing error. Conlon scored on Tyler Stover’s single to center.
A two-out walk and a single by Brown kept the threat going before Gillaspie rescued Gardner by snagging a groundball for the final out of the inning.
The Wildcats made it a laugher with four runs in the eighth with DeBord and Carter bouncing two-run singles over the drawn-in infield.
Worth noting — Kansas State and Kansas swept the Shockers for a second straight season.… WSU senior Erik Harbutz played for the first time since March 28, when he suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He took over the DH role and went 0 for 3. Tanner Dearman sat out with a sore back suffered in a collision at first base in Sunday’s game against Bradley. Butler expects him to play this weekend against Dallas Baptist.… WSU second baseman Zair Koeiman extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the fifth inning.… Gillaspie homered in the eighth, his team-leading 13th of the season.… Butler is waiting on the results of an MRI on freshman pitcher Cody Tyler’s elbow, injured in last week’s loss to Kansas.
E — Kihle. DP — KSU 2, WSU. LOB — KSU 5, WSU 4. 2B — Santigate (6), Yagi (7). HR — Gillaspie (13). S — Miles, Speer. SF — Simpson. SB — Koeiman (1). CS — Santigate, Kivett.
|K.Gardner L,1-4||4 1/3||8||5||5||3||1||5.68|
Balk — Vielock. Umpires — home, Greg Harmon; first, Kevin Raine; second, Bob Homolka; third, John Knight. T — 2:50. A — 4,538.