WSU baseball coach Todd Butler previews 2019 season
A short starting pitching performance once again sunk the Wichita State baseball team in a 9-4 mid-week loss to Oklahoma at Eck Stadium on Tuesday.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Stuempfig lasted just 2⅔ innings, allowing three earned runs on two hits and four walks. It was the 12th time this season coach Todd Butler has been forced to dip into his bullpen before the fourth inning, as he had to use five relievers to finish out Tuesday’s game.
But the story of the game was how each team hit once it had runners on base.
The Sooners delivered six of their nine hits with runners in scoring positions, as they went 6 for 9 in the game compared to WSU’s 1-for-6 outing. Likewise, the Shockers had 11 chances to advance runners and succeeded only three times, while OU successfully moved runners 14 out of 20 times.
It all added up to a missed opportunity for WSU (20-20) to score a quality RPI win at home against the Sooners (28-14, RPI of 38). After winning a series over Central Florida last weekend, the Shockers (5-7 in American Athletic Conference play) aim to improve their conference record with another series win at Cincinnati (18-22) starting Friday.
On Tuesday, it was another quick hook for Stuempfig, the redshirt freshman with serious ability but also serious command issues so far in his first season. Seven starts and two relief appearances have only added up to 20⅔ innings, as Stuempfig has posted 22 walks to 13 strikeouts with an earned-run average of 7.40.
Those season-long issues again popped up Tuesday. He issued three walks in the second inning alone, which allowed OU to take a 2-0 lead. That was erased with one swing of the bat in the bottom-half of the inning, as Jacob Katzfey turned on a first-pitch fastball for a line-drive home run over the right-field fence for a three-run home run and the lead. Katzfey led the Shockers with a 2 for 3 performance at the plate to push his season average to .291.
Stuempfig was pulled in the third inning after a walk that put two runners on based. Butler went to freshman Calvin Marley, who gave up an RBI single to his first batter only to watch center fielder Alex Jackson throw out an overzealous base runner at third base to end the inning.
WSU failed to generate many dangerous threats outside of two home runs, which made the scoreless third inning all the more frustrating. Jordan Boyer led off with a double, then Luke Ritter reached base on a walk. With runners on and no outs, the heart of WSU’s lineup came to the plate with a chance to break a 3-3 tie.
Instead, WSU’s 3-4-5 hitters went down in order: Paxton Wallace popped up in the infield, Ross Cadena struck out swinging and Jackson harmlessly grounded out to shortstop.
Walks weren’t only an issue for WSU’s starter. The Shockers handed out seven free passes in total, as Marley led off the fourth inning with a walk that led to trouble. OU immediately stole second base, then took a 4-3 lead on a RBI single. After a wild pitch by Marley allowed the runner to advance to third base, a sacrifice fly allowed the runner to score for a 5-3 lead.
The No. 9 hitter, Hunter Gibson, made things interesting in the seventh inning with an opposite-field solo home run to trim OU’s lead to. 6-4.
But any thoughts of a comeback were dashed in the eighth inning when OU roughed up reliever Alex Segal for three runs on three hits and a walk to push its lead to 9-4.
Oklahoma senior Brylie Ware, a Sedgwick native, finished with one hit and one run scored in front of a large contingent of fans from the Wichita area.
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WP: Godman (3-0). LP: Marley (0-1). E: WSU, Stuempfig, Segal. LOB: OU 7, WSU 5. 2B: OU, Tredaway 2, Harlan; WSU, Boyer. HR: WSU, Katzfey, Gibson. SB: OU, McKenna, Zaragoza, Harlan; WSU, Slavens. CS: None. HBP: None. Umpires: Mark Wagers, home; Joe Brown, first; Ryan Karle, second; Chris Clemons, third. T: 2:56. A: 2,150.