Between a likely season-ending injury to a starting outfielder and weather knocking out Sunday's starting pitcher after 31 pitches, not much went as planned for the Wichita State baseball team in its weekend series against North Dakota.
Except for the results. The Shockers swept the overmatched Fighting Sioux, finishing it off with a 11-4 win Sunday at Eck Stadium to improve to 7-0 in their final home game until March 15.
The game was stopped after 1 1/2 innings because of lightning in the area. A heavy fog already made for poor conditions, but a rainstorm that contributed to the 90-minute delay cleared it up. WSU starter Tim Kelley was unable to continue after allowing a run in two innings.
"It's unfortunate that Kelley didn't get to throw, he needed to throw," WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. "But after sitting around for over an hour, there's no point in (allowing him to continue)."
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The Shockers were emotionally reeling from the loss of left fielder Garrett Bayliff, who injured his right ankle on a slide on Saturday and was later found to have a fractured fibula caused by a separation of the ankle. Bayliff is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.
The offense didn't suffer in the absence of Bayliff, who batted .375 in WSU's first six games. Every Shocker starter except Don Lambert had a hit, and though WSU trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the third, the Shockers broke it open with a five-run inning.
Tyler Grimes tied it with an RBI single before a walk to Preston Springer loaded the bases and set up the game's decisive hit, a three-run double to the wall in right-center by Johnny Coy. All the runs came with two outs.
"We got four runs with two outs and another two or three runs (later) with two outs," Grimes said. "That shows what our offense can do and that we can get runs with two outs."
NDU starter Jake Swift's first inning was about the most efficient inning of any Sioux pitcher during the weekend, so he returned to the game after the long delay. It was unconventional, but it worked temporarily, as Swift faced three batters in a 16-pitch second.
That was the end of Swift's effectiveness. He surrendered the Shockers' lopsided third inning and didn't make it out of the fourth after allowing three more runs, putting WSU ahead 8-1.
"There was a little bit of difference," Grimes said. "He had a live arm, but when he came back out he was pretty straight. He still had good stuff, we just came back out and focused on taking the ball up the middle and everything took care of itself."
Since the Shockers concentrated on hitting balls up the middle and to the opposite field, their approach didn't change much with two strikes or two outs. They had six hits with two strikes, including two by Grimes.
"You don't know what's going to come," Grimes said. "If he's going to come in on you, you've got to take the chance on getting jammed. But if he doesn't come in, you know you're probably going to square a ball up."
Grant Muncrief earned the win with three innings of scoreless relief, allowing a single and hitting Kyle Bolander in the helmet. Bolander stayed down for about a minute before walking off on his own.
Muncrief regrouped, striking out the next batter and retiring the final five Sioux hitters he faced.
Kelley's departure allowed two WSU relievers to make their debuts — left-handers Drew Rainey and Aaron Labrie pitched an inning apiece, with Rainey allowing a run and LaBrie striking out two in a perfect fifth.