‘It’s everything to me:’ Garrett Kocis leads baseball to walk-off win over Kansas


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Garrett Kocis hugs Matt Boyer after his walk-off homer against Kansas on March 23 inside Eck Stadium.

Garrett Kocis knew it right off the bat. After two years of injuries and hardships, Kocis launched a game-winning walk-off home run on Wednesday, sending his Shocker teammates into hysterics and sealing the 7-5 victory over Kansas. 

Last year, Kocis was off to the best season of his career, launching a career-high 12 home runs and led WSU in OPS through 25 games of the 2021 season. Then a broken wrist sidelined him during his breakout season. 

Garrett Kocis rounds third base after his walk-off home run against Kansas on March 23 inside Eck Stadium. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

This year has been a similar story for the senior first baseman. Kocis jumped out to a slow start at the plate and a left hamstring injury sidelined for the past month. But moments like Wednesday’s walk-off made all the time rehabbing worth it for Kocis.

“It’s everything to me,” Kocis said. “I get kind of emotional right now thinking about it. All these injuries taught me to keep going and enjoy every moment because I don’t know when my last at-bat or last play I make is going to be.”

The Shockers showed some fight after the Jayhawks quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead after four innings. In the top of the sixth, WSU scored three runs to cut back into the KU lead. Chuck Ingram then delivered a solo home run in the eight, making it a one run game. Ingram then tied it the following inning on a sacrifice fly that scored Jack Sigrist.

Garrett Kocis celebrates with Will Stark after his walk-off two run home run against Kansas on March 23 inside Eck Stadium. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

Connor Holden delivered a scoreless frame in the top of the 10th inning setting up the opportunity for WSU to complete the comeback. After Gage Williams and Payton Tolle were retired to start the inning, Jordan Rodgers hustled out an infield single, setting up the opportunity for Kocis. The Shocker first baseman then hammered a fastball over the right field fence, sealing the win.

“He’s a guy that was so big for us last year and it’s been frustrating for him this year,” Head Coach Eric Wedge said of Kocis. “He got off to a tough start and then he got hurt and has been finding his way back. We’ve got to be careful with him, make sure we keep him healthy, but as long as he gets back to that approach, it looks like he’s headed in that direction.”

The Shockers view this walk-off win over KU as a momentum-shifter, after their 0-6 start to the season. WSU remains confident due to their ability to battle back in every game, no matter the deficit.

“Wedge always talks about finding a way to win the game for that given game, every game’s different,” Kocis said. “If there’s one thing our team should be known for, it’s our battle and compete factor. We never give up. One through nine, everybody out there on any given day, all the pitchers. We all got each other’s back and we just fight.”