In a game dominated by pitching, Wichita State’s bullpen outperformed Southern Illinois’ and the Shockers — despite getting just four hits — escaped with a 4-3 victory Friday night in their Missouri Valley Conference opener.
“We were fortunate to win,” coach Gene Stephenson said. “We must hit the ball better than we did.”
Wichita State (16-13, 1-0) was held to three hits and two runs through seven innings by SIU starter Cody Forsythe. Shocker starter Josh Smith was nearly as sharp, striking out seven and walking none in 7 1/3 innings.
But Salukis first baseman Chris Serritella sent a Smith offering over the right-field wall in the sixth for a 3-2 SIU lead. It was his seventh homer of the season.
The Shockers, who used 19 players in the game, were able to tie the score in the eighth off Salukis closer Todd Eaton and – fittingly – pushed across the winning run in the 10th on Aaron Snyder’s wild pitch.
“We scrapped away, and I think we played about every eligible player we had tonight,” Stephenson said. “We were fortunate to get some walks and scrap across some runs, because we sure didn’t hit much.”
Meanwhile, Shocker relievers Foster Vielock and Cale Elam (1-1) pitched 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief with three strikeout s and no walks.
Elam, who had been shaky against Long Beach State and South Alabama, said some key adjustments helped his effectiveness against SIU.
“It felt good to have everything working and being able to throw the ball where I wanted to,” he said. “Me and (pitching coach) Brent (Kemnitz) talked about that and got some things situated, made some little tweaks, things that might go unnoticed to the naked eye. We got on the same page, and luckily we got a win.”
Buoyed by Serritella’s homer, SIU (14-12, 2-2) brought in Eaton to start the eighth. Dayne Parker was hit by a pitch, and Don Lambert ran for him. Lambert proceeded to steal second, even down to making the “safe” sign as he rose from his slide.
“I wanted to make sure he didn’t have any other thoughts on his mind,” Lambert said with a laugh. “It was closer than I thought it would be, but I knew I was safe.”
He took third on a passed ball and one out later, Casey Gillaspie walked. Erik Harbutz, returning from injury, then lined a single to right field, scoring Lambert.
In the 10th, when Lambert worked Snyder (1-2) for a walk. He stole second again, moved to third on Johnny Coy’s grounder, then came home when a 1-1 pitch to Aaron Rea got past Saluki catcher Brian Bajer. It would be WSU’s only earned run in the game.
“We only hit five or six balls well,” Stephenson said. “I’m sure we didn’t hit more than five or six balls hard, and I’m sure they didn’t go for hits. We sure didn’t hit much, that’s for sure.
“It’s always good to get a win. Given a choice, I’ll always take the win. But we must be better offensively than what we’re doing – we have to be, if we’re going to compete in this league.”
abrhbibbsoavgTroggio cf301100.310Duschinsky ss400003.314Serritella 1b411101.377Montgomery 3b400000.371Sivertsen lf401001.253Harding 2b402001.306Johnson rf400002.222Bajer c411001.232Menken dh311101.267Totals34373010WICHITA STATEDoggett lf400002.367Halbert 3b100000.207Parker ss301000.330Lambert pr-lf020010.325Coy 1b500001.343Gillaspie dh210020.244Rea pr-dh000000.273Harbutz 3b-ss401103.276Green rf411001.257Coughenour 2b301100.255Baker c200001.167Knight ph100000.333Arens c000000.154Mucha ph100000.261Hege c000000.235Hall cf200021.273Totals3244269
0020010000—3 7 1Wichita St.0200000101—4 4 1
E — Serritella (6), Coughenour (5). DP — SIU, WSU 2. LOB — SIU 2, WSU 7. 2B — Menken (2), Green (5). Hr — Serritella (7). SB — Lambert 2 (9), Gillaspie (1), Coughenour (5), Hall 2 (13). CS — Troggio, Rea. SF — Troggio.
iphrerbbsoeraForsythe7320373.12Eaton1110122.13Snyder L,1-21 1/3011204.03Wichita St.Smith7 1/3732072.89Vielock2/3000011.29Elam W,1-12000020.45
HBP—by Eaton (Parker). WP — Snyder. Balk — Forsythe 2. PB — Bajer. Umpires — Home, Bill McGuire; first, Chris Perry; third, Greg Harmon.
T — 2:39. A — 3,011.