If Brent Kemnitz hadn’t carved out a successful 35-year career as the pitching coach for the Wichita State baseball team, it wouldn’t be a stretch to believe he could have done the same as a therapist.
Pitchers, former and current, swear by Kemnitz — he seemingly has the key to unlock any pitcher’s mental problems.
Cale Elam, making the transition from the bullpen to weekend starter, is the latest example.
The junior right-hander was splendid on Friday night in handing the Shockers a 4-1 victory over Indiana State to kickoff a weekend.
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“Brent has really helped me out,” said Elam, who tossed seven innings without allowing an earned run. “He told me to look at it like you’re closing out every single inning. Whether it’s the first, second, third, seventh, whatever. I need to stay aggressive like that every inning.”
Elam wasn’t dominant, but he threw his best when he needed.
When Indiana State advanced a runner to third base with one out in the second inning, Elam struck out the next hitter and coaxed a ground out to end the threat.
A runner thrown out at home and one of his six strikeouts to end another scoring threat helped Elam escape without a single dent through five innings.
His lone blemish was in the sixth inning when an overthrow by shortstop Erik Hartbutz allowed the lead-off hitter to reach second base. A bunt moved him to third and a breaking ball skidded by catcher Tyler Baker to score the Sycamores’ lone run.
“Whenever I get into trouble, most of the time it’s me getting myself into trouble,” Elam said. “I didn’t really do anything in that inning to lead them to believe I couldn’t get myself out of trouble. I’m happy that Gene and Brent had the confidence in me to let me stay out there and work through it myself.”
Elam moved to 3-1 on the season not because the Shockers finally cured their hitting woes, but his performance was good enough to let the offense scrape by with the bare essentials.
Johnny Coy did relieve some pressure in the third inning when his bases-loaded single up the middle tht drove in two runs with two outs.
“The past couple of week we haven’t really hit the ball when we needed to the most,” Coy said. “I was just excited to get the chance. I knew that was a huge part of the game.”
WSU stranded another nine runners, but tacked on two runs in the sixth when Indiana State’s Kurt Kudrecki walked in two WSU runners.
Elam’s quality outing combined with two solid innings from Albert Minnis to keep the Shockers out of trouble.
Coach Gene Stephenson wasn’t fooled, as he counted his blessings after the game.
“I’m thankful for the pitching performance of Cale Elam,” he said. “I’m thankful for Johnny Coy’s big base hit that drove in the first two runs. And I’m obviously thankful for the walks with the bases loaded we received.”
E — Harbutz 2. DP — WSU. LOB — Indiana State 8, WSU 9. 2B — Kraemer (7), Bobbit (1). S — Kraemer. SB — Bayliff (4).
|Moore L,2-3||5 2/3||6||4||4||5||2||2.85|
WP — Moore, Elam 2. Umpires — Wayne Harris, home; Bill McGuire, first; Mike Grace, third. T — 2:44. A — 2,516.