Shockers Begin Homestand, welcome to Cincinnati
Cincinnati (13-18, 3-3 American) vs. Wichita State (13-19, 2-4 American)
Thursday April 14 | 6:00 p.m. | Wichita, Kansas (Eck Stadium)
Television: ESPN Plus | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
LHP Conner Linn (2-1, 3.60) vs. RHP Jace Kaminska (2-3, 4.03)
Friday April 15 | 6:00 p.m. | Wichita, Kansas (Eck Stadium)
Television: ESPN Plus | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
RHP Beau Keathley (3-1, 4.93) vs. LHP Jace Miner (0-2, 9.69)
Saturday April 16 | 12:00 | Wichita, Kansas (Eck Stadium)
Television: ESPN Plus | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
TBA vs. RHP Goodbye Cameron (3-0, 0.24)
SCENE SETTING: The Shockers return to Eck Stadium for a three-game series against American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati. The series runs from Thursday to Saturday rather than the typical Friday to Sunday with Easter on Sunday. The series also features a rare Saturday night game, with a first pitch at 6:00 p.m. for the first two contests of the set. The Shockers next play their first game of the season on Monday against Kansas State. Wichita State lost an 8-5 decision Tuesday night at No. 5 Oklahoma State, the program’s first-ever game at newly constructed O’Brate Stadium in Stillwater. Oklahoma State led 8-1 in the ninth inning before Seth Stroh hit a grand slam, helping the Shockers get the tied run in the circle on the bridge before a game-ending strikeout. Wichita State has scored more than five points only once in the last 12 games. The Shockers are coming off a 31-23 season a year ago, including an 18-13 mark in the American Athletic Conference that produced a third-place finish, WSU’s best since joining the AAC in 2017. Wichita State is seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2013 season, a regional bid that was later canceled by the NCAA.
SHOCKER BASEBALL ON RADIO AND ESPN PLUS: KFH 97.5 FM / 1240 AM will once again serve as the primary radio for all Wichita State baseball broadcasts in 2022. “The Voice of the Shockers” and Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Famer mike kennedy will take the call over the weekend, with the pre-game show beginning approximately 20 minutes before the first pitch. All WSU home games at Eck Stadium in 2022 will be broadcast live on ESPN Plus (WatchESPN.com) featuring former Shocker All-American pitcher Shane Dennis manage broadcast tasks. Live audio, in addition to live stats, will be available for all games at GoShockers.com/listen and ShockerStats.com.
SERIES HISTORY: The Shockers and Bearcats have played just ten games in series history, with all ten meetings since Wichita State joined The American in 2017. Cincinnati leads the all-time series 8-2, with WSU’s only wins in 2018 at home and 2021 at Cincinnati. The 2018 series is the only set that was played at Eck Stadium; the two programs played three games at UC Ball Stadium in 2019 and four more in 2021. Wichita State was outscored in all ten games by a combined score of 65-39.
CINCINNATI SCOUTING: The Bearcats put a 13-18 overall record into play on Thursday, standing 3-3 in American Conference action after winning a series against Houston last weekend. Cincinnati lost a midweek high-scoring affair to No. 3 Louisville on Tuesday, dropping 18-10 on the road. This contest sums up perhaps a Bearcats team with arguably the strongest offense in the league, but also a pitching staff that has struggled to find consistency. Offensively, Cincinnati leads the AAC in averaging 7.3 carries per contest, highlighted by the slugging trio of Griffin Merritt, Paul Komistek and Joe Powell, all of whom have an OPS of 1,000 or better. Five different Bearcats have five or more home runs, which translates to a conference-pacing .491 team hitting percentage. The Cincinnati pitchers, however, combined for a 6.92 ERA which is almost a full run worse than the next closest team in the league. Bearcats pitchers have the fewest strikeouts (237) and most walks (156) and have received little help from a defense that has committed the league’s second-most errors (37) . Cincinnati opened the season 6-4 before a six-game losing streak, five of which were away. The Bearcats register at 163 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. Head coach Scott Googins is in his fifth season at the helm in 2022, following a 29-26 season a year ago for the program’s first winning season since 2011. In 2019, Googins led the Bearcats to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 45 years, winning the AAC tournament and later knocking out defending CWS champion Oregon State in the Corvallis area.
ALL OR NOTHING: Tuesday was a small example of the offensive season so far for the Wichita State outfielder Seth Stroh, who struck out two but also threw a Grand Slam in the ninth inning. The sophomore has retired exactly half of his at-bats this season (26 of 52), but also has six extra hits among his ten total hits for the season. Six of his last seven hits (three doubles, three home runs) have gone for extra bases.
IS NOT A LIE: Sunday’s dominant outing was just the latest in a string of standout performances from the right-hander Goodbye Cameron, who shut out East Carolina in eight innings while hitting a career-high eight strikeouts. The stellar start reduced Bye’s season ERA to a microscopic 0.24, the best in the nation. The No. 2 player also ranks second nationally in hits allowed per nine innings at just 3.65, having allowed 15 hits (two for extra bases) in 37.0 innings. Bye was named the American Athletic Conference’s pitcher of the week for his efforts, the second different WSU pitcher to pick up the award after Jace Kaminska was honored on April 4.
CHUCK AND DUCK: Wichita State’s top hitter is a sophomore outfielder chuck ingram, who extended his career-best hitting streak to ten games on Tuesday with a ninth-inning brace. Ingram is down 0.312/0.358/0.616 for the year after finishing at 0.225 a year ago. He leads the club with nine home runs, three times their 2021 tally in one game less.
GLOVE OF LOVE: At a critical moment in Sunday’s series finale at East Carolina, the junior shortstop Andrew Stuart produced one of the most impressive defensive highlights of the season so far. In the bottom of the sixth, a double and a single put the runners in the corners with one out. Pinch hitter Joey Berini popped a pop-up into shallow left center field on the first pitch he saw against the starter Goodbye Cameron. Stewart raced to land an incredible over the shoulder grab, then spun and fired at the plate to take down the marking ECU runner for a late-inning double play. Double Murder was named American Baseball Game of the Week and Game #3 on D1Baseball’s Games of the Week.
MORE STRIATED: Junior Sawyre Thornhill already has a 19-game hitting streak under his belt in the 2022 season, and has reached base via hit or walk in all 31 games played. Interestingly, despite leading Wichita State with nine multi-hit games this season, Thornhill did not record a three-hit game. He extended the streak with a ninth-inning walk on Tuesday at Oklahoma State.
ALLERGIC TO MARKETS: Closer Connor Holden continued his mastery of the strike zone by eliminating Sunday’s shutout victory over East Carolina. The graduate transfer from Murray State hasn’t issued a walk in 13 appearances covering 16.0 innings of work, while striking out 19. Holden hit four opposing batters.
PRESS THE CLUTCH: Wichita State’s recent offensive struggles have been exacerbated by a lack of success in high-leverage situations. The Shockers are batting just .229 with runners in scoring position and just .216 with two outs. The opponents, meanwhile, score 0.277 and 0.262 respectively in these same two categories.
RUNNING MAN: outfielder Cut Cornblum established himself as Wichita State’s top base running threat. On a team that has stolen just 25 bases on 36 attempts, Cornblum is now 8-for-8 after stealing second base in Saturday’s loss to East Carolina. For his career, the second made 27 of 32 stolen base attempts (84%).
ONLINE JUGGLING: Eric Wedge continues to tinker with the starting lineup in search of consistent production. In 32 games, the Shockers haven’t used the same starters and batting order in consecutive games. Cut Cornblum, chuck ingram and Xavier Casserille have all started in seven different places in the batting order this season.
SENIOR SETTLEMENT: Two of Wichita State’s most productive hitters in the 2021 season had slow starts in the 2022 campaign. Garrett Kocis led the Shockers with 12 homers in just 36 games played last season, while Jack Sigrist was the leading returning hitter after averaging .321 a season ago. The tandem is hitting .186 and .183 in the first 31 games of the season, with five additional combined hits.
ADVANTAGE OF HOME PITCH: Eck Stadium, home of Tyler Field, has always been one of the toughest places for opponents to win in its storied history. The Shockers own an all-time home record of 1,272-382-2, including an 862-279-2 mark at Tyler Field (first season 1988). Since taking over as head coach in 2020, Eric Wedge set a 36-14 record at Eck, highlighted by an impeccable 10-0 mark in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY: shock trainers Eric Wedge, Mike Pelfrey, Mike Sirianni and director of operations Loren Hibbs all have ties to the WSU baseball program. Wedge propelled the Shockers to a national championship as a starting catcher in 1989, earning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors along the way. Pelfrey was an All-American starter who ranks second in program history in ERA (2.18) and strikeouts (366). Sirianni was a volunteer assistant coach for the Shockers in 2015 and 2016 before moving to head coaching at Regis University. Hibbs helped WSU in the CWS program’s very first appearance in 1982, and still holds the NCAA record for single-season runs with 125.
ON THE BRIDGE: The Shockers host Kansas State on Monday night at Eck Stadium.