When the Wichita State baseball team answered Indiana State’s two-run first inning, WSU players knew Saturday would be their day.
“It usually takes us until the fifth or sixth inning to get going,” WSU’s catcher Tyler Baker said. “We sometimes don’t always answer back like that to start out.”
Maybe Saturday was about the Shockers releasing their offensive frustrations from the past two weeks and emptying their anger on the Sycamores, resulting in a 11-3 victory in the season’s first sunny game at Eck Stadium.
Despite the feeling WSU hasn’t played to its potential yet, it sits atop the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-1 record.
“We’re starting to look like we should,” Baker said. “Everything is starting to click and we’re finally starting to hit the ball.”
Collecting hits was never a problem for this Shocker squad. The issue has been stringing hits together and finding gaps with runners on base.
The first test came in the opening inning when Cody Bobbitt and Garrett Bayliff led off with singles to right field.
Typically, that has been the situation where the Shockers would ground into a double play or find some other way to strand the runners.
This time Casey Gillaspie gapped a 1-0 fastball to left field for a double and an error in the outfield let both runners score. Later in the inning, Baker singled in Gillaspie and Mikel Mucha drove in Baker with a two-out double to right-center field.
“It all started with Cody Bobbitt leading the game off with a hit,” Mucha said. “Whenever we start the game off with a hit, we always do pretty strong. That just starts the game off the right way and the rest of the team seems to follow.”
Kris Gardner never found a rhythm on the mound as the starter for WSU, but the 4-2 lead after the first inning was enough. Gardner was relieved after pitching four innings and allowing seven scattered hits.
TJ McGreevy picked up the win to move to 3-1 on the season after pitching the fifth and sixth innings, while Aaron LaBrie continued his outstanding pitching from the bullpen with two more scoreless innings before Garrett Brummett closed the game out.
WSU never relinquished the lead and put the game away with another four-run inning in the sixth to take a 10-3 lead.
Even with another solid performance by the bullpen, this game was more about the offense.
Gillaspie and Johnny Coy finished with three RBIs apiece, while Baker and Mucha each added two more. Nine Shockers collected hits with Gillaspie (3), Baker (2) and Mucha (2) having multi-hit games.
The players weren’t sure afterward what spurred on the breakout performance.
“I don’t know, it finally warmed up a bit,” Gillaspie theorized. “Maybe that will help our bats.”
Even without much consistency this season, Wichita State is still right where it wants to be — in the thick of the MVC race.
“We know we have a lot to work to do,” Mucha said. “But we’re still in first place and today we looked like we’re turning things around. I think we’re going to be all right.”
E — Conway, Browning, Harbutz. DP — Indiana State. LOB — Indiana State xx, WSU xx. 2B — Kraemer (8), Pearson (1), Gillaspie 2 (11), Mucha (4), Doggett (2). HR — Coy (2). S — Conway, Haddox. SB — Curry (12), Hayes (5), Harbutz (6).
|Peterson L,0-3||3 1/3||8||5||5||1||2||5.21|
WP — Peterson 2. HBP — Curry, Hayes (by Gardner); Mucha (by Browning). Balk — Kuhlman. Umpires — Bill McGuire, home; Mike Grace, first; Wayne Harris, third. T — 2:46. A — 2,707.