Wichita State’s scoring drought at Hawks Field ended quickly and emphatically on Tuesday. After going 28 1/3 innings without a run against Big 12 Nebraska, the Shockers bashed away in their first shot at Big 10 Nebraska.
WSU routed the Huskers 13-2, battering six pitchers for 19 hits to win at Hawks Field for the first time since 2002. In 2006, 2008 and 2010 visits, the Shockers lost by a combined score of 28-0. WSU’s Johnny Coy homered in the first inning to make all that history seem ancient.
“They’re very much aware of it,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson said. “We hadn’t scored here since 2004 — three straight shutouts. So that was a big relief.”
Coy’s two-run shot started the Shockers (33-22) on their way to a 6-0 lead, and all six runs scored with two outs. In the third, Coy drove in two more with a single and Micah Green drove in two with the first of two doubles.
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“Even when our teams were pretty dominant, we didn’t play well here,” Coy said. “We came out and got on top of them early. That was huge. There were a lot of people here, an environment a lot of the freshmen weren’t necessarily used to.”
Nebraska (32-20) allowed a season-high in runs and WSU’s 19 hits are the most since California knocked out 20 in early March. Coy went 5 for 5 with a double and would have had a second if he wasn’t taking it easy to protect his sore left hamstring. WSU’s Erik Harbutz and Tyler Baker homered for the first time this season.
“When you give up 19 hits, you’re going to lose,” first-year Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “Sometimes, you’re just going to get flat-out beat, and we got flat-out crushed.”
Coy did most of the crushing, adding a second 5-for-5 night to his May resume.
He blasted a line drive over the wall in left in the first inning after Don Lambert reached on an infield single. He took a ball to right in the third to drive in two more. In the fifth, he drove a ball to the wall in center field, settling for a long, long single. He singled again in the seventh. He finished his night by doubling to right in the eighth to drive in his fifth run.
The hamstring, injured on May 5 at Indiana State, only limits him after the ball is struck.
“It did hurt me, hitting, in the Indiana State series,” he said. “Now it doesn’t hurt at all, hitting. It is still a little bit tight when I run the bases, so I’m just trying to go station to station, not do anything crazy.”
Harbutz homered — his first since hitting four in 2010 and missing most of 2011 with a shoulder injury — to make it 7-1 in the fourth. WSU took an 8-2 lead in the seventh when Green doubled in Dayne Parker.
Then the Huskers collapsed.
Baker led off the eighth with the first home run of his freshman season. After two fielding errors on shortstop Chad Christensen helped load the bases, pitcher Tyler King hit Don Lambert to force in a run. Coy doubled in another run and a passed ball rang up WSU’s lead to 12-2.
It may sound as if WSU’s pitching took the night off. Not so. Starter Tobin Mateychick wasn’t sharp after sitting through WSU’s four-run third. Working on a predetermined split, Mateychick hit the first batter in the bottom of the inning and threw two balls to the next before Stephenson replaced him with Albert Minnis.
Minnis gave up six hits in five innings, but only one run. He limited the damage in third by striking out cleanup hitter Richard Stock with a runner on. In the fourth, he struck out Cory Burleson to end the inning with runners at second and third. The Huskers threatened again in the sixth, cutting the lead to 7-2 with no outs, before Minnis struck out two with two on and ended the inning with a groundball out.
“You’ve just got to maintain,” Minnis said. “If they got those two runs in, it’s a completely different ballgame, 7-4 instead of 7-2. My main goal was just to keep those guys out there.”