Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State rallies from five-run deficit, wins series opener over Bradley

Wichita State’s Luke Ritter scores the tying run in the seventh against Bradley catcher Ian Kristan on Friday at Eck Stadium.
Wichita State’s Luke Ritter scores the tying run in the seventh against Bradley catcher Ian Kristan on Friday at Eck Stadium. The Wichita Eagle

Greyson Jenista wanted to bunt. Wichita State coach Todd Butler wanted him to swing away.

They debated. Jenista argued that, if he got the bunt down, runners on second and third for cleanup hitter Ryan Tinkham presented a good situation. Butler wanted a hot hitter to get a chance against a struggling pitcher. They went with Butler’s instinct and it worked out well for the Shockers, just like about everything else in the late innings of Friday’s 7-5 win over Bradley at Eck Stadium.

WSU (14-24, 4-3 Missouri Valley Conference) rallied from a 5-0 deficit, won a series opener for a third straight weekend and enjoyed two solid innings from closer John Hayes for his first save since March 1. Bradley (16-14, 2-4) lost for the 34th straight time at Eck Stadium, a streak that started in 1998.

“We needed that,” Jenista said. “We needed to learn how to come back.”

Bradley led 5-0 entering the sixth after taking advantage of two WSU defensive errors and a blunder on the bases that helped Braves starter Matt Dennis cruise through five innings. The Shockers scored three runs in the sixth, when Dennis’ command and his defense faltered. The Shockers kept coming in the seventh when Dennis walked Mikel Mucha and Luke Ritter to start the inning and bring up Jenista, who had a strong opinion about how the inning should unfold.

His vision started with him putting down a bunt, which isn’t the usual instinct for a No. 3-hole hitter and the potential for RBIs at hand.

“I’m interested in winning,” he said. “Second and third, Tinkham at the plate, less than two outs, I’m all for it. No doubt in my mind he gets it done.”

Butler disagreed, even after Jenista proposed taking a strike and then bunting.

“I said ‘I’m not bunting, we’re going to hit,’ ” Butler said. “I felt like he could, hopefully, put a good swing on a ball. Left-handed hitter vs. a right-hander, I wanted him to swing the bat and he delivered.”

34WSU’s consecutive wins over Bradley at Eck Stadium

92-26WSU’s series lead

57-9WSU’s series lead in Wichita

Jenista took a ball and then mashed a double off the base of the wall in center field to rev up the rally. The Shockers scored three runs in the inning to take a 6-5 lead and turned the game over to Hayes. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, and WSU added another run in the eighth.

Hayes, a senior, had given up seven runs in three innings in MVC games. On Tuesday, he surrendered a double and a home run in an inning at Kansas to help the Jayhawks turn a two-run lead into a four-run lead. On Friday, Butler didn’t hesitate to hand him the ball.

“He’s our guy and we had to keep pitching him until he gets out of it,” Butler said. “He’s one of the toughest guys on the team. He’s a tough competitor.”

Hayes gave up a leadoff single in the eighth. He lessened that sting by fielding a bunt and throwing out the lead runner at second for the first out. A strikeout and a groundball ended the eighth. He retired the Braves in order in the ninth, using a 93 mph fastball and his slider to end the game with no drama.

“I was throwing my slider for a strike and my fastball for a strike,” he said. “My change-up was pretty good, so I had three pitches working. I was pretty confident.”

The Shockers, down 5-0, scored three in the sixth on a walk, three singles and two Braves errors. They took a 6-5 lead in the seventh after Dennis walked the first two batters. Jenista hammered a 1-0 fastball to drive in Mucha and move Ritter to third. Tinkham bounced a ball to shorstop Tyler Leffler and his throw home sailed high. Ritter, who hesitated a beat before leaving third, slid in safely, to tie the game 5-all.

Gunnar Troutwine blasted a sacrifice fly to center field, chasing Andy Shadid into a dive. He held the ball up in his glove after landing and the umpires ruled it a catch. Butler sprinted out of the dugout to protest and replays supported his position that Shadid may have trapped the ball. Still, the Shockers grabbed a 6-5 lead

WSU added a run in the eighth after Alec Bohm singled. Pinch runner Travis Young scored from second, never stopping as he rounded third, when Leffler threw high to first base on a groundball by Ritter.

The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Paul Solka lofted a flyball to right. Jenista took a bad first step and his pursuit of the ball never recovered. The ball bounced off his glove and away and two runs scored.

WSU’s defense took another bad turn in the fourth when the Braves bunted the Shockers silly. WSU starter Cody Tyler walked Shadid to start the inning and a bunt hit moved him to second. D.J. Gasso bunted and catcher Gunnar Troutwine fielded and threw to first, past first baseman Ryan Tinkham, who had not retreated to first. Second baseman Tanner Kirk backed up the play on a dive. Shadid scored from second when Kirk’s throw came in late to home.

Brady Wilkin dragged a sacrifice bunt with him toward first, allowing Evan Gruener to score from third for a 4-0 lead. Shadid’s leadoff home run to center gave Bradley a 5-0 lead in the sixth.

Most times, that deficit signals the end for the Shockers, who were 1-22 when trailing after six innings. On Friday, they flipped the tone of the game with good at-bats, timely hits and solid relief pitching.

“With this team, you kind of hope something will spark us,” Butler said. “It means a lot to me to see them come from behind 5-0. I know that they’re fighting every day.”

Worth noting — WSU outfielder Dayton Dugas is on the 27-man roster, but an illness kept him home on Friday. Butler said he hoped Dugas would return Saturday or Sunday.… WSU improved to 92-26 against Bradley, 57-9 in Wichita. It ended a two-game losing streak to the Braves, who had not win three in a row against the Shockers since 1987.… Bradley played its 25th road game. … WSU freshman Alec Bohm went 3 for 4 with a double, his first three-hit game of the season.

Bradley

ab

r

h

bi

bb

so

avg

Mangieri dh

5

0

1

0

0

2

.286

Gaa 3b

5

0

0

0

0

0

.327

Leffler ss

4

1

1

0

0

1

.325

Solka 1b

3

0

1

0

1

0

.327

Kristan c

4

0

0

0

0

2

.282

Green pr

0

0

0

0

0

0

.250

Fairchild c

0

0

0

0

0

0

.255

Shadid cf

3

2

1

1

1

1

.316

Gruener lf

2

1

1

0

2

0

.279

Gasso 2b

4

0

2

0

0

0

.235

Wilkin rf

3

1

1

1

0

1

.271

Totals

33

5

8

2

4

7

WSU

Mucha cf

4

1

1

0

1

0

.328

Ritter lf

4

1

0

0

1

0

.286

DeBacker lf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.250

Jenista rf-1b

4

2

3

1

1

0

.330

Tinkham 1b

5

1

0

1

0

1

.237

Eaton rf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.114

Troutwine c

3

1

2

1

0

1

.298

Rader 3b

4

0

1

1

0

1

.256

Kirk 2b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.262

Bohm dh

4

0

3

1

0

0

.297

Young pr

0

1

0

0

0

0

.263

Vickers ss

3

0

1

0

0

0

.270

Totals

35

7

11

5

3

5

Bradley

002

201

000

5 8 4

Wichita State

000

003

31x

7 11 2

E — Gaa (4), Kristan (2), Leffler 2 (9), Jenista (3), Troutwine (1). DP — WSU. LOB — Bradley 6, WSU 9. 2B — Bohm (7). HR — Shadid (4). S — Wilkin (4), Vickers (5). SF — Troutwine (2). SB — Solka (5).

Bradley

ip

h

r

er

bb

so

era

Dennis

6

8

5

3

3

4

4.55

Scheuermann L,1-3

1

1

1

1

0

1

2.19

N. Stong

1

2

1

0

0

0

4.82

Wichita State

Tyler W,2-2

7

7

5

3

3

5

4.28

Hayes S,2

2

1

0

0

1

2

8.18

WP — Dennis (5). PB — Troutwine 2 (13). Umpires — home, Matt McKendry; first, Greg Mudd; third, Matt Anderson. T — 2:28. A — 2250.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

Bradley at Wichita State

  • When: 2 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Eck Stadium
  • Records: BU 16-14, 2-4 MVC; WSU 14-24, 4-3
  • Pitchers: BU, LH Cameron Roegner (4-3, 3.40); WSU, RH Zach Lewis (1-6, 5.56)
  • Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM
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