The score: Wichita State 13, Nebraska 2
Key statistics: WSU DH Johnny Coy went 5 for 5 and drove in five runs with a homer and a double. LF Micah Green added three hits and three RBI and the Shockers knocked out 19 hits against six pitchers. Albert Minnis pitched five relief innings, allowing six hits and one run.
Records: WSU 33-22, Nebraska 32-20
The Shockers know they need to be almost perfect to stay in the NCAA at-large picture, yet they didn’t play like a team burdened by that knowledge. Coy’s first-inning home run probably had a lot to do with it. WSU doesn’t have much room for error, there is always pressure and expectations at WSU and many Shockers are going through this for the first time. To see them play relaxed in front of a big crowd is a good sign.Coy is the kind of hitter who, even on one leg, can carry an offense. In his past 10 games, he is 19 for 42 (.452) with 17 RBI and three home runs. When I think of him at his best, I see him hitting the ball to all fields, which is what he did on Tuesday. “I’m just getting my foot down early and seeing some pretty good pitches, and making pretty good swings,” he said. I will be interested to see how many good pitches he gets against Creighton. I would expect pitchers to begin making more of an effort to pitch him carefully and deal with Casey Gillaspie over the next week.I gave Don Lambert’s catch in the second inning the coveted – and rare – double star on my scoresheet. The last time I can remember bestowing such an honor was for Kevin Hall’s diving catch in the MVC Tournament against Evansville last season. After Lambert’s career is finished, I will autograph the scoresheet for him. I ranked it at least worthy of No. 3 on ESPN’s top plays and much better than the college baseball highlight of a Lipscomb pitcher making a behind-the-back grab of a comebacker. I haven’t found Lambert’s catch on the Internet. If you have, let us know.WSU’s bullpen looks stronger each time Albert Minnis pitches effectively. He wiggled out of trouble several times, and it’s great to have a guy who can summon up strikeout stuff when he needs it. With Foster Vielock, Cale Elam and Minnis, the Shockers can call on three good relievers, all of whom can several innings. That could be huge next week. WSU got a good inning out of Mitch Mormann, his first appearance since April 29. Mormann is WSU’s hardest thrower, but he couldn’t throw strikes as a starter. It is late in the season to develop a deep trust in Mormann in a tight situation, but his talent makes him an attractive option. It will be interesting to see how WSU uses him. Coaches handled him perfectly on Tuesday – he threw one good inning and they got him out to preserve his confidence.Is LF Micah Green turning the corner from potential to production? In his past 10 games, Green is 18 for 34 (.529). The big key appears to strikeouts. He has only four in that span. 3B Josh Halbert is also giving WSU’s offense a boost. He went 3 for 5 at Nebraska to raise his average to .230.WSU moved up to No. 40 in the warrennolan.com RPI. Beating Nebraska won’t set off fireworks in the NCAA war room, but it adds another top-100 victory and another road win (Nebraska is No. 75). In my mind, if WSU gets to 12 games over .500 I would feel good about its at-large chances. We know WSU will have at least 24 losses.WSU has won five straight for the second time this season. Five is its longest streak. It is a season-high 11 games over .500. The 13-2 victory over Nebraska is WSU’s biggest in the series since a 15-3 win in Lincoln in 1989 and its largest road win since a 17-2 victory at Evansville in 2010.
Next up: at Creighton, 7 p.m. Thursday (Cox 22).