Lewis shuts down Southern Illinois as Wichita State opens MVC play
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Wichita State senior Zach Lewis threw seven shutout innings as the Shockers began Missori Valley Conference play with a 7-0 drubbing of the Southern Illinois Salukis on Friday.
“Lewis was really good tonight. He had great command,” head coach Todd Butler said. “He’s been good for a while, and that’s why he’s pitching on Friday.”
It was Lewis’ fourth straight quality start, a streak he says he owes to practicing the little things with pitching coach Mike Steele.
“Sticking to the process with him [Steele] has gotten me to where I am now,” Lewis said. “Getting after it, sticking to the same routine, and working on the little things.”
WSU gave Lewis early run support with a five-run third inning off of SIU starter Chad Whitmer.
Sophomore Travis Young began the two-out rally with a walk, and sophomore Alec Bohm followed with a blast that left fielder Greg Lambert knew was gone off the bat.
Senior Willie Schwanke, in the lineup for the second time this year in as many games, singled to keep the line moving.
Both Freshman Alex Jackson and Junior Trey Vickers doubled to push the Shockers’ lead to 4-0.
Freshman Noah Croft tacked on one more run with a single, but was thrown out trying to advance to second base.
“Bohm’s two-run homer was huge,” Butler said. “We had some good at-bats tonight, but to score five in that inning was huge for us.”
Working with a five-run cushion, Lewis settled down and kept mowing through the Salukis’ lineup.
Anytime the Salukis put a runner on base, Lewis had an answer.
“It’s always good to have run support. It frees up a lot of pressure, and I can more freely challenge guys in the zone,” Lewis said.
SIU threatened to break through Lewis in the fifth inning. A hit batsman, a double, and a walk loaded the bases for the Salukis before Lewis induced an inning-ending fielder’s choice to get out of the jam.
WSU struck again in the sixth inning courtesy of sophomore Jordan Boyer. With freshman Noah Croft on first base, Boyer launched a home run nearly identical to Bohm’s earlier blast.
Sophomore Codi Heuer came in to relieve Lewis in the eighth inning, and promptly made short work of the Salukis in both the eighth and ninth innings to give the Shockers their first win in conference play.
“Offensively, we had a good night and that was good to see,” Butler said.
WSU is back in action tomorrow afternoon in game two of the series against Southern Illinois. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Eck Stadium.