Wichita State first baseman Johnny Coy made the catch on the bounce and held up his glove for the umpire to see.
First-base umpire Larry Waggoner saw the ball on the artificial turf at Eck Stadium. Instead of ending the eighth inning and killing a rally, two runs scored and San Jose State had a 4-3 lead that held up in Sunday's series finale.
"As soon as the ball hit my glove, the base runner ran into my glove," Coy said. "I had it. I thought the ball was in my glove, and I was showing the umpire."
That play summarized a frustrating day for the Shockers (25-15), who won the first two games of the series by one run. They left the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings. They struck out five times in 5 2/3 innings against soft-throwing lefty reliever John Austin. Four errors didn't help coach Gene Stephenson's mood. Neither did nine walks issued by his pitchers.
"This is beyond belief to watch," Stephenson said. "This is a team that has some talent. They have no ability to retain any knowledge. We can't function under pressure."
That wasn't the case in the first two games, when the Shockers didn't commit an error. They held a 3-2 lead for five innings on Friday. Saturday, WSU rallied from a 6-2 deficit to win 7-6.
Lose on Sunday, and that is all forgotten.
The Shockers were in position to win another close game after reliever T.J. McGreevy started a double play in the eighth. He then gave up a two-out single and a walk. Logan Hoch walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Karson Klauer smacked a grounder to third that Erik Harbutz gloved.
Stephenson preferred Harbutz make a shorter throw to second, with pinch-hitter Anthony Bona running from first.
"The guy at first couldn't run — we were screaming across the field," Stephenson said.
Harbutz made the throw across the diamond that was on time to get Klauer on a bounce — until Klauer knocked it out of Coy's glove.
Alex Sofranac and Nick Schulz scored to give the Spartans (15-23) a 4-3 lead.
Austin, an unimposing figure with a 6.06 ERA and more walks than strikeouts, took over as the game's key figure. He sat down the Shockers in order in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch-hitter Preston Springer singled to lead off the ninth and pinch-runner Mitch Caster moved to second on a bunt by Tyler Grimes.
Austin struck out Harbutz _ who watched the first two strikes _ and got Ryan Jones to ground out to first to end the game.
"I kept them off-balance and got a lot of swings that were beneficial to me," Austin said. "I felt like my curveball was working really well."
Austin took over in the fourth with two on and one out. He immediately set to work baffling the Shockers, He struck out freshmen Nate Goro and Harbutz to survive loading the bases with a walk. In the sixth, he struck out Harbutz looking to end the inning with a runner on second. The Shockers didn't get another runner on until the ninth.
"We knew he was going to be soft with everything," Coy said. "We knew he wasn't going to overpower us. We just didn't get the job done."
WSU took a 3-2 lead in the sixth off Austin. Grimes drove in two runs with a bloop double.
Sunday's box score
San Jose State ab r h bi avg.
K.Klauer 2b 4 1 1 0 .281
Johnson ss 4 0 0 0 .133
J.Martin cf 4 1 1 0 .405
Valine 3b 3 0 1 1 .275
Jenkins lf 2 0 0 1 .308
Quiery lf 1 0 1 0 .375
Z.Jones dh 5 0 1 0 .276
Sofranac rf 5 1 1 0 .317
Stienstra 1b 2 0 1 0 .279
Schulz pr 0 1 0 0 .154
Canez 1b 0 0 0 0 .308
Carrillo c 2 0 1 0 .300
Hertler ph 0 0 0 0 .280
Bona c 0 0 0 0 .294
Totals 32 4 8 2 .290
Wichita State ab r h bi avg.
Grimes ss 2 0 2 2 .274
Harbutz 2b-3b 5 0 1 0 .224
R.Jones cf-rf 5 0 0 0 .280
Lassley dh 3 0 0 0 .349
O'Brien c 3 1 0 0 .287
Coy 1b 4 0 2 0 .323
Bennett rf 1 0 0 1 .327
McKeever ph 1 0 0 0 .260
Hall cf 1 0 0 0 .241
Bascue lf 3 1 1 0 .500
Goro 3b 2 0 0 0 .299
Baez ph 1 1 1 0 .256 Davidson 2b 0 0 0 0 .333
Springer ph 1 0 1 0 .314
Caster pr 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 32 3 8 3 .289
San Jose State 200 000 020 — 4 Wichita State 010 002 000 — 3
E — Harbutz, Coy 2, Goro. DP — WSU. LOB — San Jose St. 12, wSU 9. 2B — Grimes (8), Coy (7), Baez (6). S — Johnson, Valine, Grimes. SF — Bennett. SB — K.Klauer (3), Sofranac (4). CS — J. Martin, R.Jones, Grimes.
San Jose St. IP H R ER BB SO ERA
S.Martin 2 2/3 3 1 1 1 0 4.88
Guzman 2/3 1 0 0 1 0 9.00
Austin W,1-4 5 2/3 4 2 2 1 5 5.63
WSU IP H R ER BB SO ERA
Smith 5 1/3 5 2 2 5 1 3.86
McGreevy L,1-3 2 1/3 3 2 0 2 0 7.30
Hoch1 1/3 0 0 0 2 1 2.66
WP — Austin, McGreevy. HBP — Grimes (by S.Martin), Bascue (by Guzman). Umpires — home, Joe Brown; first, Larry Waggoner; third, Greg Mudd. T — 3:23. A — 3,719.
All around the diamond
Wichita State started three freshmen and a sophomore in the infield Sunday. Coach Gene Stephenson didn't want to discuss youth as an excuse for four errors, all by the rookies.
"That has no bearing whatsoever," he said.
Third baseman Nate Goro was charged with a throwing error in the second inning. First baseman Johnny Coy dropped a pop up in the third and was charged with an error in the eighth after dropping a throw. Erik Harbutz, who moved from second to third, committed a ninth-inning throwing error.
Stephenson's frustrations weren't limited to the freshmen, especially on offense. The Shockers stranded nine runners and left seven in scoring position.
"We must do a better job teaching these people," Stephenson said. "We're not doing a good job of it, apparently, because we're not playing well. We're not doing the job as coaches."
Talk to me
Popups are no sure thing for the Shockers.
They misplayed a third one in five games during the third inning on Sunday. San Jose State's Kerry Jenkins, with two outs, lofted a ball foul toward first base. Coy charged. So did catcher Chris O'Brien. They almost collided when they met in the middle, causing Coy to drop the ball and draw an error.
Jenkins walked, before a groundball ended the inning.
On Tuesday, first baseman Preston Springer and pitcher T.J. McGreevy failed to communicate on a popup near the mound, opening the door to two runs in a 7-4 loss to Kansas State. On Friday, a popup landed in shallow right field with second baseman Walker Davidson and two outfielders in the area. That cost the Shockers a run.
WSU sophomore Tyler Grimes was hit by a pitch for the 20th time this season, extending his record. With 29 for his career, he is six from tying Casey Blake's Shocker career record.... Home-plate umpire Joe Brown ejected WSU assistant coach Jim Thomas in the ninth inning. After Erik Harbutz took strike two, Thomas called time and talked to Harbutz _ and Brown _ at home plate. After a few seconds, Brown ejected Thomas.... The Shockers missed a chance to sweep their second weekend series of the season. They fell to 17-4 at home.
-- Paul Suellentrop