Road trip recovery has Wichita State baseball ready for Long Beach State

02/27/2014 11:35 AM

02/27/2014 11:37 AM

Two extra-inning losses in its first trip away from home was less of a setback for Wichita State’s baseball team and more a chance to make an impression.

The lasting memory of the four-game swing through Myrtle Beach, S.C., would be how the Shockers responded to losing to Connecticut and George Mason. WSU is coming home happy.

WSU, which opens a three-game series with Long Beach State on Friday afternoon at Eck Stadium, won the final two games of the trip, beating host Coastal Carolina 5-2 and 10-0.

The Shockers (6-2) are still operating without some of their regulars, as infielders Dayne Parker and Erik Harbutz are finishing their nine-game NCAA suspensions while staggered suspensions are ongoing for multiple pitchers, but coach Todd Butler came away impressed with their fortitude.

“After Saturday, I told them our goal was not to have back-to-back losses all season, that’s the sign of a good club,” Butler said. “I said, we’ve done that so we have to change, now let’s respond and not have three in a row.

“They did a very good job of coming out and playing against Coastal Carolina the next two days. There wasn’t any pouting or complaining or pointing the finger. They did a good job of saying, hey, it’s another day – let’s have the attitude we need and get ready to play.”

WSU’s offense, while explosive at times, has provided headaches due to lack of timely hitting in two losses in Myrtle Beach. When clicking, though, it takes a while to turn the Shockers off, as shown by games against SIU-Edwardsville and Coastal Carolina — a combined 31 runs and 34 hits.

First baseman Casey Gillaspie can claim a lot of personal ownership in WSU’s .321 team average, as he’s batting .594 with three homers, 15 RBIs and at least two hits in every game.

The Shockers’ pitching has also produced some eye-popping statistics, with a 2.01 ERA anchored by no earned runs from A.J. Ladwig covering 11 2/3 innings in two starts. WSU has been buoyed by pitching in games where clutch hitting has been more difficult.

“That’s the whole key to winning, is starting pitching and being good at the end of the game,” Butler said. “I think we’re going to have an opportunity to do those things. Our guys are pounding the zone and throwing strikes.”

Mucha out – Outfielder Mikel Mucha will miss up to eight weeks after suffering a lower-leg fracture in a collision Saturday against George Mason. Mucha had five hits in 14 at-bats while sharing time in left field with Daniel Kihle.

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