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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Baseball upsets ECU, advances to AAC championship semifinals

Kristy Mace
Junior Josh Livingston advances to third base in the bottom of the second inning against Oklahoma State during an April game.

The last time the two teams played, East Carolina University (ECU) swept Wichita State baseball by a combined 28-15 score over three games in April.

On Thursday afternoon, ECU faced a much stronger Wichita State team as the Shockers won 14-4 in the American Athletic Conference championship tournament to advance to the semifinals.

The win over the top-seeded Pirates moved the Shockers to 31-27 on the season. Wichita State has won nine of its last 10 games. ECU (41-14) now faces elimination in the AAC tournament.

Wichita State head coach Brian Green said the team’s dugout has “bonkers” good energy right now.

“This is my third year-one in terms of a new program, and I’ve never been around a group of guys committed to culture and team first in year one the way this one is,” Green said. “It’s been a really fun group to coach and it’s been a really fun May.”

The Shockers knocked the ECU pitcher out of the game in the first inning by scoring a run on a single from sophomore Jaden Gustafson and loading the bases. A leaping two-out catch from Pirate junior outfielder Jacob Jenkins-Cowart prevented more damage, and ECU retook the lead in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer.

After another ECU homer in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead, the Shockers offense woke up in the sixth. Wichita State rallied to score a run and load the bases and freshman Lane Haworth cleared the basepaths with a double into left field, giving the Shockers the lead back, 5-3.

Junior Josh Livingston capped off the rally with a three-run homer to extend the Wichita State lead to five runs. In the next inning, Livingston provided some more offensive insurance with a grand slam to put the Shockers up 12-3.

Livingston ended the day with seven RBIs, a career-high, along with his first ever multi-homer game.

“(Livingston) went through a stretch there in April where he didn’t play a lot,” Green said. “And he got some confidence coming off the bench and all of a sudden it’s four or five at-bats were of quality off the bench. We give him a start and we can’t get him out of there.”

Wichita State put an exclamation point up offensively with two additional runs in the ninth before ECU tacked on a consolation run in the bottom of the inning.

The Pirates rolled out eight pitchers to the mound in the game; meanwhile, Wichita State freshman starter Tommy LaPour went 6 ⅔ innings, giving up three runs. All nine Shocker batters reached base, with Livingston, Gustafson, senior Seth Stroh and freshman Kam Durnin recording multi-hit games.

Wichita State earns a rest day before competing on Saturday morning against the winner of Friday’s ECU vs. Rice University game. A win in that matchup would move the Shockers to the AAC championship; a loss would necessitate a rematch game later the same day. The first pitch of the opener is scheduled for 8 a.m.

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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