Champions revisited: Memorable moments
06/08/2014 8:46 AM
06/08/2014 8:46 AM
Memorable moments• Mike Wentworth’s postseason home runs created much of the storybook quality of WSU’s run. He hit a crucial two-run homer against Fresno State in the regional on his mother’s birthday. He hit his second homer of the season in an elimination victory over Florida State on his father’s birthday, tying the game 4-all and sending WSU to the title game with a 12-9 win. Before the win over the Seminoles, he unwrapped a piece of Bazooka gum and kept the wrapper reading “Something magical will happen to you today,” in his uniform pocket.
Wentworth, WSU’s designated hitter, hit two home runs that season and four in his career.• Injuries added to the degree of difficulty for the Shockers. Right fielder Jeff Bonacquista, a senior who hit .323 and played excellent defense, missed the final nine weeks with a broken kneecap. Shortstop Mike Lansing, who hit .366 and led the team with 43 steals, sat out the postseason with a back injury.
• First baseman Bryant Winslow played the season’s final month with a stress fracture in the tibia of his right leg. A collision with Texas’s Lance Jones in the sixth inning of the title game broke his fibula and his left wrist. He wanted to remain in the game.
“He obviously could not continue,” coach Gene Stephenson said. “I wanted him to come out. Tears were streaming down his face. He didn’t want to come out. So I told him to stay off first, don’t get near it, don’t put any pressure on the leg, and we’d see if he could get through the inning.”
After one pitch, Winslow realized he wasn’t helping the team. He took himself out and watched the rest of the game with a cast on his leg from the dugout.
“He had tears in his eyes,” catcher Eric Wedge said, “and he said, ‘You guys better win this thing. Don’t you dare lose this game.’ Personally, it was hard for us to control our emotions.”• Stephenson shook up his batting order after the second game in Omaha to revive a slumping offense. He flipped Wedge and McDonald, moving Wedge from No. 3 to the cleanup spot and elevated shortstop Pat Meares from No. 9 to No. 6. Wedge and McDonald responded with home runs in an 8-4 win over Arkansas and Meares went 3 for 5. The trio stayed hot, with Wedge driving in four runs in a 7-4 win over Florida State and Meares homering against Texas.
• Texas threatened early in the title game before WSU pitcher Greg Brummett changed the momentum with a play that grew into a Shocker trademark. With runners on first and third in the first inning and no outs, Brummett executed the fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff to get David Tollison. Brummett struck out the next two Longhorns to avoid damage.
“They had gained some confidence and I lost some confidence after those first two hitters,” Brummett said. “Then I got the pickoff and right then and there, it gave me all the confidence in the world.”
Remember that moment next time somebody yells, “That play never works” at a Shocker game.• The Shocker returned to Wichita via bus the day after the game. Around 6,000 fans packed Eck Stadium to welcome the team home and the players and coaches describe the moment when the stadium came into view as the bus drove down 21st Street as one of their biggest thrills. Six days later, the team visited President George H.W. Bush at the White House and presented him with a Shocker jersey.