WSU lefty Charlie Lowell struck out eight in Friday's 8-0 win.Scores: Wichita State 8, Creighton 0 – CU 7, WSU 5 – WSU 12, CU 3
Records: WSU 30-22, 9-6; CU 32-12, 10-5
Bottom line: WSU improved to 5-3 against top-50 RPI teams (all five wins at home), which is meaningless except to frustrate. It disappoints many Shocker fans to be worried about the MVC race and nothing else in May. That’s where this team is, however, and it’s doing a good job of hanging in and winning weekends. The Shockers are through the toughest part of the conference schedule with last-place Bradley and seventh-place Indiana State remaining. WSU probably needs to win five of six over the next two weekends to have a chance to pass first-place Creighton and hold off Missouri State. It helps that Creighton and MSU play on the final weekend in Omaha.
Weekend wonders: Creighton entered the series with a 3.26 ERA. WSU battered the Jays for 23 earned runs (8.28) and 38 hits. Saturday starter Jonas Dufek did baffle the Shockers, striking out 12. Even in that game, the Shockers scored five runs and had a chance to win or tie in the ninth. The improvement at the bottom of the order continues to be a major aid for WSU. LF Micah Green went 5 for 12 and drove in six runs. 2B Walker Davidson went 3 for 11 with a walk and drove in three runs. Green is WSU’s second-leading hitter in MVC games at .400 with a .629 slugging percentage. His 15 RBIs in conference play rank third on the team. C Chris O’Brien went 7 for 14 and DH Preston Springer went 6 for 13. LH Charlie Lowell started the series with a five-hitter. LH Josh Smith rebounded from a rocky stretch with a solid five innings on Sunday. WSU’s bullpen didn’t allow a run in 8 2/3 innings. Five relievers combined to strike out nine and allow four hits. RH Chance Sossamon has worked his way back into the mix by striking out 10 in his past seven innings (four walks). RH T.J. McGreevy gave WSU a chance to rally Saturday with 41/3 scoreless innings.
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Weekend woes: LH Brian Flynn walked three and gave up nine hits in his Saturday start. SS Tyler Grimes, after going 4 for 5 on Friday, finished the weekend 5 for 12 with seven strikeouts. He committed three errors in the series, bringing his season total to 28. RF Don Lambert hit a three-run homer on Friday, his lone hit in nine at-bats. CF Kevin Hall went 3 for 13 and struck out four times.
The other dugout: Creighton wasted a chance to bury the Shockers and grab firm control of the MVC race. Still, the Bluejays are the MVC’s RPI leader (No. 48) for a reason. Ty Blach and Jonas Dufek give the Jays two good starters. Blach struggled on Friday, but didn’t allow the Shockers to blow it open until the seventh inning. Many pitchers would have folded early. The Jays committed one error. Their pitching and defense will keep them in the race. Creighton won’t win many slugfests.
Around the MVC: Sunday unfolded like a dream for WSU, with Missouri State and Southern Illinois losing. The Shockers are in second place and can watch the other contenders beat each other up the next two weekends.
What’s next: WSU plays Oral Roberts on Tuesday at Eck Stadium. The Golden Eagles are 25-18 after winning two of three at Oakland (Mich) over the weekend. Indiana State visits beginning Friday.