Wichita State baseball’s meager offensive output has gone from outlier to trend.
The Shockers were shut out on Friday for the second straight game, falling 1-0 to Stephen F. Austin at Eck Stadium. WSU managed five hits and was baffled by starter Cameron Gann, who exerted his dominance with an unmatchable seventh inning.
WSU frequently swung early in counts against Gann and often tried to pull outside pitches, but all those approaches got the Shockers was a multitude of weakly-hit outs and few scoring opportunities.
“I think the pitcher on the mound threw a fastball away and we didn’t take it away,” WSU coach Todd Butler said of the Shockers’ failures to hit to the opposite field. “We didn’t do a good job of hitting the ball that was away, then he would come (inside) with two strikes.
“…We had great respect for him coming into the game, and he basically shoved it on us. We had four baserunners – one was a walk, and three singles – so it was hard to generate an offense there.”
Since the Shockers scored 43 runs in their first four games, they have been held to one or fewer in three of the last seven. The inconsistencies have been especially evident over the last two weeks, when WSU has scored five twice, 10 once and one once to go along with a pair of shutouts.
WSU’s individual numbers were in line with the collective hot start, but Friday’s defeat left five regulars batting .255 or lower. Only Micah Green and Casey Gillaspie are batting better than .300 while starting all 11 games.
“I think it’s a fluke,” Green said. “We’ve got great hitters, and I think they’re just not making the adjustments right now. A couple guys aren’t seeing the ball very well right now. …We’ve got a little bit of tweaking to do, but overall we’re going to be fine.”
The Shockers endured three straight 1-2-3 innings by Gann before finally affording themselves some hope. Green got into scoring position after a fifth-inning single but was stranded there, and WSU had two on base in the sixth following a two-out walk to Gillaspie.
The next batter, Chase Simpson, swung at the first pitch and grounded into a fielder’s choice, nullifying the efforts WSU made to force Gann into more work after he took care of the Shockers in 51 total pitches in the previous four innings.
Simpson’s eagerness was part of a larger picture, as 16 of WSU’s 27 outs were recorded in three or fewer pitches.
“Hopefully he was swinging at a good pitch,” Butler said. “Sometimes you don’t get the hit, but I like the guys swinging the bat.”
In the seventh, Gann solidified his superiority by striking out the side on nine pitches.
WSU failed to capitalize on Dayne Parker’s leadoff single in the eighth or on Simpson’s one-out double against reliever Tyler Wiedenfeld in the ninth, stranding both in scoring position.
Shockers starter A.J. Ladwig nearly matched Gann, but unlike his counterpart he fell behind in the count in an inopportune situation, serving up a 2-0 fastball to No. 8 hitter Brett Thornell, who smashed it to the wall in right-center to score Nick Ramos with the lone run.
“Just one pitch of the game,” Butler said. “They clutched up and had the hit, and we didn’t. We didn’t threaten too much, and their pitcher did a great job.”
|Stephen F. Austin||AB||R||H||BI||BB||SO||AVG|
|K. Thornell lf||3||0||0||0||0||1||.222|
|B. Thornell 3b||3||0||2||1||0||0||.238|
|Stephen F. Austin||010||000||000||—||1|
E — Parker. LOB — SFA 10, WSU 7. 2B — B. Thornell (1), Sanchez (3), Simpson (3). S — Vest, Harbutz. SB — Dickey (5), Dearman (7).
|Stephen F. Austin||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO||ERA|
HBP — B. Thornell (by Ashford). Balk — Gann 2. Umpires — home, Travis Olson; first, Terry Harrison; third, Conan Strobel. T — 2:25. A — 2,578.