Wichita State beat No. 9 Cal State Fullerton 4-2 in the finale of a weekend baseball series Sunday at Eck Stadium, and reality beat perception.
A four-run outing typically doesn’t qualify as much of a breakthrough, but against one of the top pitching staffs in the country, which the Titans possess, it fits the description. The manner in which the Shockers gathered their offense was also more impressive than the tangible output.
WSU collected 12 hits against Grahamm Wiest, who would be higher than No. 3 in most other collegiate rotations, and two relievers. The Shockers got six leadoff runners on base and used those to keep the pressure on Wiest and those who followed him.
“The team battled,” said WSU third baseman Chase Simpson, who had three hits and two RBIs. “We let go of the bad pitches and swung at the good pitches. We had people on and we had chances. We had 12 hits and would have liked to score more runs, but we still got enough to get the (win).”
In a Friday loss to Fullerton, WSU never had a baserunner with fewer than two outs. The Shockers organized a game-winning rally in the ninth inning Saturday with one out, then finally on Sunday started scoring early enough in innings to sustain offense.
Dayne Parker started the bottom of the second with a wind-blown triple off the left field wall, scoring one batter later on Simpson’s hard single up the middle.
Simpson scored when Micah Green doubled with one out, and though WSU left two runners stranded, the Shockers had their second multi-run inning of the weekend in 20 tries. It wouldn’t be their last.
“It’s nice to see us put some good at-bats together and string some things together,” Green said. “Lately we’ve been hit-or-miss, and it’s really nice to score throughout the game rather than just the first couple innings.”
Tanner Pinkston started the Fullerton second with a lazy fly ball off of WSU starter Sam that turned into a solo homer because of 30 mph wind gusts, and the Titans scored in the third on a walk, single and a double play.
That inning included a particularly animated visit from pitching coach Brent Kemnitz, which was followed by a long stretch of effectiveness by Tewes. His rhythm was broken by a long sixth inning for WSU at the plate, but he retired seven of eight batters before the seventh with an infield hit the only blemish.
The Shockers, with A.J. Ladwig and Cale Elam pitching the first two games, matched or exceeded Fullerton’s starters all weekend.
“Sam battled today,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “Little bit up in the zone the first three innings, but he settled in. He competes, and he gave us a good chance to win today. Three quality starts by our pitching staff. I like our pitching staff on the weekend.”
After leaving runners on base in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, WSU capitalized on a leadoff walk in the sixth to Dayne Parker. Simpson, who doubled in the fourth, doubled again to score Parker. Green was once again involved, moving Simpson to third on a single before Simpson scored on a fielder’s choice.
It was the kind of execution the Shockers lacked until Saturday’s ninth inning before it arrived to help them win two of three from a nationally ranked opponent before two weeks full of road games coming up.
“It means a lot,” Green said. “We needed some confidence, and coming into this we knew they were going to be good. It would help to compete against those guys, and we actually came and did what we needed to do and got a couple wins.”
Fullerton St. 3, WSU 2. LOB — Fullerton x, WSU x. 2B — Velazquez (4), Simpson 2 (8), Green (6). 3B — Parker (1). HR — Pinkston (1). S — Green.
|Wiest L1-3||5 1/3||10||4||4||1||1||1.94|
PB — Baker. Umpires — home, Ben Harlow, first, Greg Mudd, third, Trent Petrie. T — 2:39. A — 3,114.