Wichita State, held to 10 hits in the first two games of its opening Missouri Valley Conference series, captured the final game in fine fashion, pounding out 14 hits on Sunday and clinching the series with a 10-7 victory over Southern Illinois.
Particularly encouraging for coach Gene Stephenson was that designated hitter Casey Gillaspie had three of the hits, including a three-run homer in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth — his third and fourth home runs of the season.
Stephenson said he was pleased to see Gillaspie take a more aggressive outlook at the plate.
“He’s been sitting up there and letting motion fastballs that are away from him go by and not swing at them,” he said. “And finally, he swung at the ball, and he hit them pretty good — both of them.”
Gillaspie said he took his coach’s advice, which produced the desired results.
“Coach (Stephenson) has been on me lately about not swinging at the outside pitches with runners in scoring position,” he said.
On the second homer, Gillaspie was looking fastball on a full count.
“I just told myself he wasn’t going to throw it by me, and hit it right back up the middle — it just went a little farther,” Gillaspie said.
He also singled in the third, raising his batting average 19 points to .253.
“He has that kind of ability as a hitter if he’d just do it — that’s all,” Stephenson said.
While the Shockers (17-14, 2-1) were rediscovering their hitting stroke, the bullpen regained its effectiveness. Albert Minnis (2-4) and Foster Vielock retired 13 of the 17 Saluki batters they faced from the fourth through eighth innings, throwing 63 pitches between them. Vielock’s earned-run average went down to 1.20, and Minnis’ dipped below 5.00.
WSU had a comfortable 10-5 lead entering the ninth, so even when closer Cale Elam surrendered a one-out walk to Chris Serritella and a two-run homer to Austin Montgomery, it didn’t pose a problem. In fact, Elam needed just five pitches after that to get the final two SIU hitters on infield grounders.
In addition to Gillaspie, left fielder Taylor Doggett, first baseman Johnny Coy and utilityman Aaron Rea had multihit games for WSU. In fact, shortstop Dayne Parker was the only one of WSU’s 11 position players who didn’t get a hit, but he scored after drawing a walk.
Freshman Tyler Baker started at third base but became the catcher when Ryan Hege had to leave the game in the fourth inning because of an elevated heartbeat.
The Salukis (15-13, 3-3) knocked out starter A.J. Ladwig with a three-run third for a 5-3 lead. Minnis entered and ended the inning by striking out Serritella. SIU, which had hits in every inning except the second, did not score again until the ninth.
Parker worked hard-throwing Saluki right-hander Sam Coonrod (1-1) for a one-out walk to begin the sixth. He took third when Coy doubled to deep left-center and scored when Gillaspie lofted a shot over the wall in left-center, putting the Shockers ahead, 8-5. Coonrod got some revenge in the seventh, striking out the side.
But in the eighth, Doggett bunted. Coonrod picked it up but threw the ball past first baseman Serritella, putting Doggett at second. He moved to third on Parker’s groundout to the right side and scored on Coy’s flyout to right.
Gillaspie worked Coonrod for a 3-2 count, then blasted a pitch over the center-field wall for WSU’s 10th run, providing enough breathing room to more than offset Montgomery’s homer in the ninth.
With this Shocker team, Stephenson said he’s uncertain what he’s going to get from day to day.
“You just never know,” he said. “We have capability, we have good athletes, we can be really good sometimes. But you have to do it every day.”
abrhbibbsoavgWelch 2b511001.315Duschinsky ss411101.304Serritella 1b412112.383Montgomery 3b512200.365Sivertsen lf501001.269Harding dh511001.333Johnson rf411003.226Bajer c301000.219Troggio cf412200.318Totals39712619.297WICHITA STATEDoggett lf412111.377Parker ss410010.305Coy 1b412100.336Gillaspie dh523401.253Coughenour 2b501001.250Rea rf/3b322010.306Hege c2 11001.243Baker 3b/c411302.174Hall cf411001.289Green rf201001.256Totals371014938.284
E—Duschinsky (17); Coonrod (1); Green (1), Baker (5). LOB—SIU 8; WSU 7. 2B—Welch (5); Duschinsky (7); Montgomery (8); Coy (8); Hege (6); Baker (3). HR—Montgomery (5); Gillaspie 2 (4). HBP—Duschinksy. SH—Bajer (3). SF—Coy (5). SB—Doggett (9); Green (2). CS—Rea (3).
iphrerbbsoeraDorris4.11055236.19Coonrod L, 1-13.2455153.20Wichita StateLadwig3.2753042.59Minnis W, 2-42.1300034.91Vielock2.0100021.20Elam1.0122101.29
Umpires—HP, Greg Harmon; 1B, Bill McGurie; 3B, Chris Perry. Time—2:39. Attendance—2,751.