Weekend review: Southern Illinois at Wichita State

Scores: WSU 10, SIU 0; WSU 4, SIU 3 (12); WSU 11, SIU 1

Key stats: WSU hit .370 for the weekend, its best MVC performance, and walked 13 times while striking out 11. Casey Gillaspie continued to hit (6 of 12) and got help from Daniel Kihle (7 of 14), Chase Simpson (5 of 11 with three walks) and several others. All three WSU starters went six or more innings, led by A.J. Ladwig’s seven-innings of shutout baseball on Friday. Cale Elam rebounded from a sore right elbow to throws 8 1/3 strong innings on Saturday.

Records: WSU 21-18, 6-6 MVC; SIU 20-20, 3-9

  • Playing at Eck Stadium made all the difference for the Shockers, who followed an eight-game losing streak, all on the road, with a five-game win streak, its longest of the season. “Things are starting to fall into place a little bit,” pitcher Cale Elam said Saturday. “It helps to be here, be at home. We got some momentum, got that run-rule (win) at Evansville on Sunday. We came home knowing that we can do it.”
  • The return of Daniel Kihle and a good weekend by Chase Simpson makes WSU’s offense look significantly stronger. Kihle, who missed a month with a broken wrist, is shining in the leadoff spot. He can hit for power (his three homers in 20 games ranks third on the team) and he can steal bases. Over the weekend, his on-base percentage of .533 ranked third behind Gillaspie and Simpson. Simpson has been streaky this season and is 7 for 18 in his past five games with five walks. He recently toned down the leg-kick that had been part of his batting stance and thinks the simplified approach is working. “I’m trying to be more on time, not be so big with everything,” Simpson said. “You can see the ball better. Your head isn’t moving all over the place.”
  • Evansville did the rest of the MVC a favor by taking two of three at Dallas Baptist over the weekend to reel Baptist back in a bit. WSU can’t be considered part of the race at the top, at least not yet. But it’s very much a part of the pack trying to finish third. And since Dallas Baptist comes to WSU in May, the Shockers can look at the remaining schedule and feel like a significant part of their destiny is in their hands. The problem is they have almost no room for error with nine MVC games remaining. Judging from past history, they probably need to go 8-1 to have any hope of finishing first.
  • WSU stole seven bases over the weekend after stealing 36 in their first 36 games. Coach Todd Butler would like to be more aggressive and Kihle’s return helps in this area, as well.

Next up: vs. Missouri at Kauffman Stadium, 7 p.m. Tuesday (Cox 22)