Wichita State tangles with tigers

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Wichita State (13-28, 2-10 American) vs. Memphis (19-19, 4-8 American)
Friday April 29 | 6:00 p.m. | Memphis, TN (FedExPark)
Television: None | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
HPR Jace Kaminska (2-5, 4.88) vs. RHP Landon Gartman (5-1, 3.61)

Saturday April 30 | 6:00 p.m. | Memphis, TN (FedExPark)
Television: None | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
HPR Goodbye Cameron (3-1, 1.52) vs LHP Dalton Fowler (2-2, 6.40)

Sunday May 1 | 1:00 p.m. | Memphis, TN (FedExPark)
Television: None | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
HPL Payton Tolle (2-5, 3.83) vs. TBA


SCENE SETTING: Wichita State returns to American Athletic Conference play with a three-game road series at Memphis starting Friday night. The Shockers are coming off a 12-6 loss to No. 8 Oklahoma State on Tuesday night, a game played downtown at Riverfront Stadium. Wichita State held a 5-3 lead going into the top of the fifth, but the Cowboys scored six times in the inning and led the rest of the way. The WSU comes into play on Friday having lost ten straight games and 15 of the last 16. The ten-game losing streak is the longest losing streak in program history, breaking the previous mark of nine games set in 1970 and 1950. The Shockers have also lost nine in a row at home, the longest streak in that gender in school history. 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. Tuesday night’s game at Riverfront Stadium will not be shown on ESPN Plus. 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 Tigers have only met ten times in all-time series history, with each game occurring after Wichita State joined the American Athletic Conference. The Shockers hold a 7-3 series lead, winning three of four at Eck Stadium last meeting in 2021. WSU won all three series against Memphis, winning two of three in the other two matchups. It will be Wichita State’s first trip to FedExPark since the 2018 season, when the Tigers won the first-ever meeting 4-3, but the Shockers bounced back to win the next two, 8-4, 13-6.

MEMPHIS SCOUTING: The Tigers enter the weekend with a 19-19 overall record, including a 4-8 record in American Athletic Conference games. Memphis shared a pair of midweek games against SWAC opposition earlier this week, beating Mississippi Valley State 13-4 on Tuesday before being hitless by Arkansas Pine-Bluff in a 2-0 loss Wednesday evening. Last weekend, the Tigers rallied for a Friday night victory in Houston, but then lost the next two games to drop the series. Memphis previously won two of three games at South Florida, lost two of three to UCF and was swept by Tulane in other AAC action. Four different Tigers are hitting .300 or better, led by fifth-year senior Ian Bibiloni (.324) who homered twice against Wichita State last season on May 21. The Tigers have stolen just 30 bases in 38 games and have no individual baserunner with more than six steals. Jacob Compton stalks Memphis in the power department, leading the club with eight homers and ten doubles. The Tigers have hit the fewest home runs in the United States, with just 34 homers. They have also knocked out a league-fewest 270 times, 38 less than the closest team. Memphis pitchers allowed the second-fewest hits in the league (328) but dished out the second-most walks (187). The Tigers already broke their win total a season ago, when they finished 18-39 (7-25 AAC). Memphis upset top-seeded East Carolina in the first round of the conference tournament, dominating the Pirates 11-1 in seven innings before dropping two straight to end their season. Head coach Daron Schoenrock has led the Tigers since the 2005 season and has announced that 2022 will be his final season in Memphis.

TWO-OUT PROBLEM: After allowing 22 two-out runs over the weekend at UCF, the Shockers continued to struggle in two-out situations in Tuesday night’s loss to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys hit for five runs from two out, including a two-run homer from Ian Daugherty that capped a six-run fifth inning. Wichita State has allowed seven homers with two outs in the last four games.

OWE HIM A FAVOUR: second left-hander Caden Favors established itself as Wichita State’s most reliable mid-level backup option, putting on another solid outing Tuesday night. The southpaw allowed just one hit and one unearned run in three solid innings, the fourth time this season Favors went for three or more frames. His 3.09 ERA is third-best on staff, though Favors allowed six homers, a team high.

SOMETHING ABOUT EARLIER STATE: Infielder Brock Rodden returned to a .300 season batting average with a three-hit night on Tuesday against Oklahoma State, the first time he’s been at the .300 mark since the series opener against Creighton on March 25. Rodden has hit four times in the last ten games after going 11 games without a homer. The Oklahoma native also hit four of his ten long balls against Oklahoma Schools, blasting home runs against Oral Roberts, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (2x).

STROH KNOWS: Despite Saturday’s 16-12 loss to UCF, sophomore outfielder Seth Stroh cook up the best game of his young career at home plate. Stroh reached base all five times via four hits and a walk, and among his hits were two doubles and a home run. The result was nine total goals, not just a career-high by the highest total of any Shockers batter this season. The game took Stroh’s batting average from .188 at the start of the day to .235. It was the second time in his last five games that Stroh had driven in four after hitting a grand slam against Oklahoma State on April 12.

SIR. JONES AND ME: In a Wichita State bullpen looking for reliable candidates, the emergence of a veteran right-hander Grayson Jones was a welcome sign. James Madison’s graduate transfer has allowed just one run in his last six relief appearances, lowering his ERA from 11.57 to 6.10 in the process. Over his last 5.2 innings, Jones has eight strikeouts and allowed just three hits.

RETURN TO THE RIVER: The Shockers hosted Tuesday night’s contest at Riverfront Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate Wichita Wind Surge. It was the second game in Wichita State history at the facility; when the 2020 Wind Surge season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shockers had the opportunity to play the first ever game at the brand new ballpark on April 10, 2021. In front of 7,509 fans (7th more on the program history) Wichita State routed Houston 10-1. Jace Kaminska pitched a full game to claim victory, and both Paxton-Wallace and Gibson Hunter homered in the win.

BACK TO BACK: After playing 37 games without using the same starting lineup (including stances and batting order) for consecutive days, the Shockers released the same nine on Friday and Saturday of the UCF Series. Eight individual Shockers have hit at least five different places in the batting order this season, and eight have played at least three different positions.

CHALLENGING MISSION: First-year student Jace Miner has been given an uphill battle over the past few weeks, making three separate starts against top-10 ranked Oklahoma State. The southpaw was up for the challenge, coming out on top in two of those three starts, including Tuesday when he gave up three earned runs in four innings.

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 .169 and .167 in the first 40 games of the season, with five additional combined hits.

EXIT: The 14-inning marathon loss to Cincinnati on April 15 featured just the fifth occurrence in program history of a Wichita State player making five walks in a single game, as Sawyre Thornhill accomplished the feat over the course of seven on-set appearances. It was the first time since the 2006 season that a WSU player walked five times, when Derek Schermerhorn made five free passes in a game against Northern Colorado.

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 play their last midweek road game of the season, making the short trip north on Tuesday to battle foe Kansas State.

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