EVANSVILLE, Ind. —Sunday could not have gone better for Wichita State. It also could not have gone worse.
The Shockers hammered Evansville 17-2 in a seven-inning run-rule victory at Braun Stadium. Pitcher Charlie Lowell's left arm, wrapped in ice, overshadowed the series victory. He threw 11 pitches before complaining of elbow and forearm tightness. After a check by trainer Corey Wood and one warmup throw, Lowell came out.
"Elbow soreness, and forearm," he said. "Mostly in the forearm. It bothered me all week, but it got better. With a six-run lead there was no need to push it."
Lowell's issue didn't exactly ruin the day, but it did suck much of the fun away. The Shockers (17-9, 5-1 Missouri Valley Conference) rely heavily on their weekend rotation and now one of the key figures is a question. Lowell will see a doctor today.
"I'm really concerned about Charlie Lowell," WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. "We're just hopeful that it's not something that is going to be serious for a long time."
Almost every other aspect of Stephenson's 1,700th win in 33 seasons (1,700-566) went smoothly. Reliever Cobey Guy took over for Lowell and struck out six in 3 1/3 innings. He allowed one hit — a solo home run by Cody Fick in the fourth inning.
"Usually I come in and I try to overpower people with my breaking ball," Guy said. "Today, I was really mixing all my pitches. I tried to keep people off balance so I could stretch it out and eat up some innings."
WSU went up 6-0 in the first inning on Chris O'Brien's grand slam and the Aces (13-15, 3-3) never challenged. WSU's Tyler Grimes scored four runs without a hit, summarizing a brutal day for the bottom of the Evansville staff. Five pitchers combined to walk 12, hit three and allow 11 hits.
"When I get up there and guys are struggling, I'm going up there looking for that first-pitch fastball, elevated, so I can do some damage," O'Brien said. "He threw that first pitch up and in where I can drive it, and I got all of it."
That inning set the tone. Evansville pitchers fell behind. The Shockers took balls until they got a pitch too fat and slow to resist. Then they smacked it. Aces starter Seth McCabe gave up four hits, three walks and eight runs and didn't make it out of the second inning.
O'Brien singled in the fourth to drive in his fifth run. First baseman Preston Springer drove in four runs with a single and a double. Designated hitter Cody Lassley singled and tripled to drive in two. Pinch-hitter Travis Bennett hit a three-run homer in the fifth.
"Any time a pitcher is struggling to throw strikes, we've all got to stay patient," Springer said. "When we see our pitch, though, we've got to be sure we don't miss it."
The Shockers, after losing 11-6 on Friday and surviving bullpen issues in Saturday's 9-8 win, emerged with a productive weekend. They finished off a conference road series with a dominating win and remained in first place in the MVC. With the conference schedule reduced to 21 games after Northern Iowa dropped baseball, the margin for surviving a bad weekend is reduced.
"We would have liked to come out of here with a sweep," Springer said. "But I think it's a success in the fact that we brushed ourselves off, came back and won two games and had a lot of different guys that stepped up."