Scores: WSU 8, DBU 5; DBU 8, WSU 2; DBU 6, WSU 4
Key stats: The Patriots hit .304 with 11 extra-base hits. They committed two errors to WSU’s seven. The Shockers hit .240 and struck out 27 times, especially struggling with runners in scoring position on Saturday and Sunday. The Shockers, with those seven errors and two costly misplays that weren’t judged errors, handed the Patriots five unearned runs. DBU “held” Casey Gillaspie to three hits in nine at-bats. They challenged him, especially Saturday, in spots most teams pitch around him and won the matchup. On Sunday, closer Brandon Koch walked him in the eighth with a runner on second, a wise move, although robbing the moment of drama. WSU shortstop Dayne Parker homered twice and catcher Tyler Baker went 4 for 10. While WSU’s starting pitchers deserved far better support from the defense, it’s worth pointing out the Patriots hit well against all three.
Records: DBU 33-18, 11-7; WSU 26-26, 10-8
- On Friday, the Shockers played one of their best all-around games of the season. It didn’t take long Saturday for things to reverse and the momentum stayed with Dallas Baptist the rest of the weekend. The Patriots came into the weekend hitting .254 and put on a clinic on how to foul off two-strike pitches and put the ball in play. “We think we’ve got a lot of talented hitters, but not a lot of experience,” DBU coach Dan Heefner said. “We don’t really have that star, those guys in the middle of the order that can carry us. We knew for us to be successful we were going to have to have really tough outs, good plate discipline. We don’t have the pure hitters that can roll out there and get four hits a game.” The Patriots did strike out 26 times and walked only eight, but almost everything else worked and the Shockers helped with shoddy defense. Even Friday, starter Cale Elam had to throw 112 pitches to get into the eighth inning and he allowed eight hits and four earned runs. “I knew they were fastball-heavy hitters,” WSU starter Sam Tewes said. “If I missed a spot, I was pretty sure they were going to jump on it.”
- WSU coach Todd Butler rated Dallas Baptist’s pitching staff on a level with Cal State Fullerton’s. “They have power arms,” Butler said. “They’ve got like 11 guys that are throwing 90.” The DBU pitchers wobbled several times, but usually came up with the big strikeout to stave off disaster. The weekend reminded me of the Tulane series, where a bullpen with several power arms limited the Shockers. “It’s a challenge,” WSU left fielder Micah Green said. “As hitters we like those challenge, but they’re pretty tough to take down when they’re consistently low 90s, good breaking balls.”
- The Shockers play three games against Illinois State this week (starting Thursday) and then stand a good chance of facing the Redbirds again May 20 in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game to start the MVC Tournament. WSU needs to win at least one game to make sure it doesn’t fall to sixth place, although that’s unlikely with first-place Evansville playing at sixth-place Missouri State (and WSU holding the tiebreaker over the Bears). With third-place Dallas Baptist playing last-place Southern Illinois and second-place Indiana State playing last-place Bradley, it appears likely that WSU and Illinois State are locked in place.
- Next up: WSU at Illinois State, 6 p.m. Thursday (Cox 22)