Friday’s box score
WSU 2, Illinois St. 1
DP — WSU, ISU. LOB — WSU 9, ISU 6. 2B — Snyder (4). S — Simpson.
WP — Craig, Headean. HBP — Kihle, Baker (by Craig), Leverett (by Tewes). Balk — Ashford. Umpires — home, Rick Allen; first David Condon; third, Michael Droll. T — 2:34. A — 176.
Back in the bullpen
Wichita State senior Cale Elam returned to a familiar role on Friday. He closed out the 2-1 win by holding the Redbirds without a hit for two innings to earn his first save this season.
Elam spent his first two seasons in that role, totaling 14 saves in 2011 and 2012. He is scheduled to start Tuesday in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament opener, so WSU moved him to the bullpen this series to give him more rest and keep the Redbirds from getting too close a look.
“I kept the same mindset as starting,” he said. “It’s a little bit different, getting warmed up more quickly. It’s nice to get a save when you haven’t done it in awhile.”
Elam threw 25 pitches, close to his limit of 30, and walked one. He got a flyball and a double play to shut down a mild threat in the eighth. He retired Illinois State in order in the ninth on a fly ball and two groundballs. Shortstop Dayne Parker ended the game by going deep in the hole and making a strong throw to get Jake Kelch on a close play.
Pitching coach Brent Kemnitz got exactly what he wanted from Elam in a change of roles.
“You’re always a little nervous about that,” Kemnitz said. “I don’t think it’s just a given that you pop him back in his old role and he hits the ground running.”
The prospect of Elam not throwing to batters between May 9 and Tuesday made Kemnitz more nervous.
“It’s hard to simulate game-like stuff,” Elam said. “This was probably better than throwing a bullpen, honestly, because throwing to hitters, you get to see your mistakes.”
WSU improved to 7-11 in one-run games.… The Shockers have won four straight over the Redbirds dating to last season, three at Bass Field.… Illinois State pulled starter Dylan Craig after four innings in preparation for next week. He struck out four and walked one and hit two batters. He stranded Shockers in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings.… WSU lefty Kris Gardner will start his first MVC game since last season on Saturday. He faced the Redbirds and gave up three earned runs and six hits in five innings last season … WSU is 3-0 in games when coach Todd Butler is ejected.