After a challenging six-game road trip, Wichita State came home wanting to start well in Missouri Valley play.
Two juniors made sure of that, as Chase Simpson’s three-hit performance backed A.J. Ladwig’s sharp outing in a 5-0 victory Friday night over Missouri State at Eck Stadium.
“That’s the two guys that won the game,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “I was kind of worried about how many runs we’d score – both teams – but we manufactured five and did a good job.”
Simpson gave Ladwig (2-2) all the support he would need in the fourth inning, getting a 2-1 pitch into the swirling north wind down the line for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead.
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In winning the series opener, WSU bested Missouri State ace Cody Schumacher, who brought a 4-0 record and a 0.58 ERA into the game.
“I had concerns about him, because he’s very good,” Butler said. “Ladwig matched him pitch for pitch. We actually scored for Ladwig, which we haven’t done probably in the last 2-3 starts for him.”
The carry on his homer, which was pushed down the right-field line, surprised Simpson.
“I thought for a second it wasn’t going to go, but (Schumacher) just threw a slider over the heart of the plate, I got a good swing on it, and it went,” Simpson said.
Butler was surprised a ball could go out through the wind.
“I didn’t think there was going to be a home run hit with the wind blowing in,” he said. “If the wind hadn’t been blowing in, I thought it would have gone out to right-center, because it was hit really well.”
WSU (13-7, 1-0 MVC) made the most of its eight hits, scoring one in the seventh and two in the eighth.
Ladwig pitched seven strong innings, scattering seven hits and striking out six with no walks. Drew Palmer pitched two hitless innings for his first save.
Simpson, a transfer from Oklahoma who sat outlast season, said it was his best game as a Shocker by far.
“It definitely is, but I look forward to more,” he said. “Nothing’s changed, we’re staying focused, and we’re out to get two more.”
During the game, the WSU radio basketball broadcast resounded through the stands. The baseball game also had a national presence, broadcast on ESPNU.
Butler – who said his wife was recording the basketball game – likened his baseball Shockers to Mercer, a 78-71 upset winner over Duke.
“Mercer kind of reminds me of our team,” he said. “We’re kind of an older team with experience, a lot of seniors, a lot of guys who have been in the program. And that’s an advantage for us. Mercer had seven seniors in the lineup to beat Duke, so hopefully we can have a season like that.”
E — Hawkins, Simpson. DP — MSU. LOB — MSU 8, WSU 7. 2B — Johnson (5), Dearman (5), Simpson (5). HR — Simpson (2). S — Parker, Haddox. SB — Bayliff (3), Harbutz (1), Simpson (1). CS — Harbutz.
|Schumacher L,4-1||6 1/3||6||3||3||4||5||1.21|
HBP — Green (by Schumacher). Umpires — home, Greg Harmon; first, Matt Anderson; third, Bret Bruington. T — 2:26. A — 2,567.