Wichita State prepares for road clash at ECU

Wichita State (12-16, 1-2 American) vs. East Carolina (16-14, 2-1 American)
Friday April 8 | 5:30 p.m. | Greenville, North Carolina (Clark-LeClair Stadium)
Television: ESPN Plus | Radio: KFH 97.5FM/1240AM
HPR Jace Kaminska (2-2, 3.38) vs RHP Ryder Giles (2-0, 0.00)

Wichita State (12-16, 1-2 American) vs. East Carolina (16-14, 2-1 American)
Saturday April 9 | 3:00 p.m. | Greenville, North Carolina (Clark-LeClair Stadium)
Television: ESPN Plus | Radio: KNSS 98.7FM/1330AM
HPL Payton Tolle (2-3, 2.90) against TBA

Wichita State (12-16, 1-2 American) vs. East Carolina (16-14, 2-1 American)
Sunday April 10 | 11:15 a.m. | Greenville, North Carolina (Clark-LeClair Stadium)
Television: ESPN Plus | Radio: KNSS 98.7FM/1330AM
HPR Goodbye Cameron (2-0, 0.31) vs. TBA

SCENE SETTING: The Shockers return to American Athletic Conference play with a three-game series against preseason league favorites East Carolina. It’s the first trip to Greenville for Wichita State since the 2018 season, when the Shockers routed ECU 14-3 on Friday night, but the Pirates responded with straight wins to clinch the series. Wichita State has lost three straight games at the start of the weekend, the last two with a 3-1 lead going into the eighth inning. Tuesday against sixth-ranked Oklahoma State, the Cowboys scored three times with two outs in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead, later adding an insurance run in the ninth. Wichita State has scored more than four points only once in the past eight 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. Saturday and Sunday’s game will air on KNSS 98.7 FM/1330 AM due to disputes of schedule. “The Voice of the Shockers” and Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Fame 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 Pirates have met 13 times in the all-time series, with Wichita State holding a slim 7-6 lead. The two teams shared a four-game series in Wichita in 2021, trading wins in the run-rule in the series opener before alternating wins the final two days. In 2019, the Shockers eliminated the top-seeded Pirates from the American Athletic Conference tournament, beating them twice in the space of three days in Clearwater. The only matchup before 2018 came in the 1991 Midwest Regional in Wichita, when the Shockers opened the regional with a 10-5 win over the Pirates.

SCOUTING IN EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates enter the weekend with a 16-14 overall record, opening conference play last weekend by winning two of three games in Cincinnati. East Carolina lost an 8-7 decision at home to Old Dominion on Wednesday as the Monarchs scored four times in the top of the ninth to erase a 7-4 deficit. The game featured 18 pitchers combined, 10 from ODU and eight from East Carolina. The Pirates have now faced four ranked teams this season, a three-game series against North Carolina (26) and singles games against Maryland (21) and North Carolina State (22). East Carolina ranked fourth in the conference in ERA and fifth in batting average, but has a very strong defensive team that has committed just 19 errors in 30 games, leading the conference in .982 save percentage. . The Pirates allowed 40 stolen bases, the worst in the AAC, on 49 attempts. Friday night starter Ryder Giles has not allowed a run in 18.1 innings so far this season, with 15 strikeouts and just four walks. Offensively, the Pirates have five skilled hitters with a batting average above .293, but the next closest after that group is Justin Wilcoxen’s .259 mark. Head coach Cliff Godwin is now in his eighth season in charge of the Pirates, returning to his alma mater after a distinguished playing career as a receiver at ECU. Since returning to Greenville, Godwin has led the Pirates to five Regionals and three Super Regionals, in addition to a pair of regular season and AAC Tournament titles. In 2021, East Carolina went 44-17, hosting a region they quickly swept before dropping a pair of hard-fought Super Regionals games at Vanderbilt.

STAR RIDE: One of the most promising developments for the Wichita State roster is the improvement of the second-year outfielder chuck ingram. After hitting .225 with 34 strikeouts for 89 at bat a season ago, Ingram has established himself as the Shockers’ leading hitter in 2022, slashing .315/.356/.602. The Kansas City native has had an extra hit in nine of the last 11 games, including all three of the series in Houston. His two-out, three-run home run in the ninth inning Friday was the game-clinching hit in Wichita State’s 4-0 victory.

CAGED COUGARS: Wichita State Friday Night Admission Jace Kaminska continued his incredible dominance over Houston over the weekend, whipping up a career-best 12 batters over eight shutout innings. With the win, Kaminska improved to 4-0 in four career starts against the Cougars and allowed just two runs in 32.1 total innings (0.56 ERA). He was named American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.

PRESS THE CLUTCH: Wichita State’s recent offensive struggles have been exacerbated by a lack of success in high-leverage situations. The Shockers are hitting just .230 with runners in scoring position, and just .220 with two outs. Meanwhile, opponents are hitting 0.259 and 0.253 respectively in those same two categories.

MORE STRIATED: Junior Sawyre Thornhill already has a 19-game hitting streak under his belt in the 2022 season and has successfully reached base in all 27 games played. He extended the scoring streak with a second-inning single on Tuesday.

GOODBYE BRIGHT: Goodbye Cameron started the season from the Wichita State bullpen due to an injury in the early spring. He’s since worked his way into the weekend rotation as a Sunday starter and set up one of the most dominant stretches for a Shocker pitcher in recent memory. The sophomore right-hander allowed just one earned run in 29.0 innings, good for a 0.31 ERA that ranks second in the nation. Perhaps equally impressive, Bye allowed just 12 hits for an opposing batting average of .122.

RUNNING MAN: outfielder Cut Cornblum established himself as Wichita State’s top base running threat. On a team that has stolen just 22 bases on 30 attempts, Cornblum is now 7-for-7 after setting a new career high last Sunday with three hits against Creighton. For his career, the second made 26 of 31 stolen base attempts.

ONLINE JUGGLING: Eric Wedge continues to tinker with the starting lineup in search of consistent production. In 28 games, the Shockers haven’t used the same starters and batting order in consecutive games. Cut Cornblum and chuck ingram have already started in seven different places in the batting order, while two other players (Xavier Casserille and Ross Cadena) have departures at six different locations.

SHOCKS IN THE RPI: Wichita State sits at 120 in the latest RPI standings after Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma State. The next East Carolina opponent comes into play Friday at age 77. Wichita State played Oklahoma (19), Louisiana Tech (34), Texas State (41), Texas A&M (49) and Creighton (105) and in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Tulane currently leads The American with an RPI of 57, the only AAC team in the top 75.

NO MINOR ACHIEVEMENTS: Tuesday entry Jace Miner became the eighth different Shocker pitcher to start a game in 2022, six of whom had never started a game at the Division-I level before this season. Going into the game with just 7.0 innings pitched, Miner had a great 5.0 innings against the Cowboys, allowing just one run on a career-high four strikeouts.

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 visit the newly built O’Brate Stadium in Stillwater for the first time to face Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

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