WSU baseball coach Todd Butler previews 2019 season
Finishing a series was something the Wichita State baseball team had yet to accomplish this season in American Athletic Conference play.
The Shockers had been 0-3 in the third game of series this season until Saturday when they defeated Central Florida 6-4 to claim the series victory at Eck Stadium.
WSU also finished out on Saturday the final two innings of what turned out to be an 11-3 loss in a game that had been halted on Friday when a bank of lights went out.
With Saturday’s victory, the Shockers improved to 20-19 overall and 5-7 in conference play.
After losing the final two games to Tulane, squandering a chance to win a mid-week game against Oklahoma State, then being swept at home by Houston, the series win over the Knights (23-17) was much needed.
“For the guys to bounce back that way, it was a big game for us,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “We haven’t won a game 3 all season, so that was good to see us finally win one of those.”
Wichita State pitchers struck out 17 UCF hitters in the third game, as starter Tommy Barnhouse lasted 4 1/3 innings and fanned eight batters. Clayton McGinness earned his fourth win of the season. throwing three innings in relief and striking out four, while closer Mitchell Walters registered his seventh save of the season as he struck out all five batters he faced.
“The big key for us is our starting pitching,” Butler said. “We’ve got to be able to go deeper into ball games. I’ve made the point to our guys that 8 of the 12 games the opposing pitcher has lasted longer than our guy. We’ve got to at least match them.”
WSU has found success when it can get the ball to Walters late in games. The junior-college transfer lowered his earned-run average for the season to 2.28 with Saturday’s performance.
He also registered a two-inning save in Thursday’s win over UCF, as WSU was able to use him twice in a weekend for the first time this season.
“We’ve just had problems getting to him because we’re behind,” Butler said. “It would be nice to be able to use him in the ninth inning three times in a weekend, but we’ve got to have the lead for that.”
WSU played error-free baseball for all three games against UCF and found enough offense, despite not hitting a home run the entire series. The Shockers finished with 10 hits and five walks on Saturday.
WSU tied the score 3-3 in the second inning on a pair of sacrifice flies from Jack Sigrist and Jordan Boyer. The Shockers took the lead in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Boyer, then tacked on two more runs in the fifth with back-to-back RBI singles by Alex Jackson and Sigrist.
The Shockers will host Oklahoma at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Eck Stadium before heading to Cincinnati next weekend for a road AAC series.
Saturday’s Game 1 box score
|Central Florida (23-16)||000||120||710|
|11 9 2|
|Wichita State (19-19)||001||010||001|
|3 9 0|
WP: WILLIAMS (4-3). LP: Snaveley (3-4). SV: Ferrer (1). E: UCF, Beaver, Hernandez. LOB: UCF 9, WSU 6. 2B: WSU, Ritter. HR: UCF, Mika, Wingo, Robertson. SB: UCF, Wingo; WSU, Sigrist. CS: WSU, Sigrist. HBP: UCF, McCabe (by Segal). Umpires: Andrew Fulton, home; Wes Hamilton, first; J. Mark Heusman, second; Scott Behn, third. T: 3:34. A: 1,816.
Saturday’s Game 2 box score
|Central Florida (23-17)||120||001||000|
|4 8 1|
|Wichita State (20-19)||030||120||00x|
|6 10 0|
WP: McGinness (4-3). LP: Westberg (2-4). SV: Walters (7). E: UCF, George. LOB: UCF 8, WSU 9. 2B: UCF, Beaver, Wingo, Robertson; WSU, Boyer, Wallace, Kocis, Katzfey. HR: UCF, Mika, Wingo, Bernardo. SB: UCF, Pena; WSU, Jackson, VanVooren. CS: UCF, Mika; WSU, Sigrist. HBP: UCF, Mika (by Barnhouse); Bernardo (by Barnhouse); WSU, VanVooren (by Hunsicker). Umpires: Wes Hamilton, home; J. Mark Heusman, first; Scott Behn, second; Andrew Fulton, third. T: 2:31. A: 2,021.
Softball: After allowing four runs in the top of the first inning, WSU slowly climbed back and eventually took home an 11-5 victory over East Carolina on Saturday at Wilkins Stadium to win the series against the Pirates.
WSU dropped a disappointing game at home to last-place ECU on Friday, but bounced back with freshman Sydney McKinney finished with two hits and tied her career-high with four RBIs to improve the Shockers to 28-20 overall and 9-6 in AAC play.
Caitlin Bingham won her 13th game of the season for the Shockers, pitching six innings in relief. Bailee Nickerson also collected two hits, including her fifth home run of the season, while Wellington native Ryleigh Buck hit her eighth homer of the season.
The Shockers will welcome the No. 1 team in college softball in Oklahoma to Wilkins Stadium at 6 p.m. Wednesday. WSU also plays at Tulsa next weekend in a crucial AAC series.
Tennis: The WSU men’s team lost 4-0 to No. 28 Central Florida in the semifinals of the AAC tournament in Orlando on Saturday. The Shockers (16-10) reached as high as No. 39 in the ITA-Oracle team rankings, while juniors Murkel Dellien and Marius Frosa achieved the highest ranking for a doubles team (No. 25) since 2016.
The women’s team lost to Tulsa 4-0 in the AAC quarterfinals on Friday to conclude a 14-10 season. Both teams will now wait to learn their NCAA Tournament fate.