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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 bounces back from loss, advances to AAC title game

Garima Thapa
Jordan Rogers hits the baseball on April 9 against OSU. Rogers is a redshirt junior at Wichita State.

For the first time since joining the American Athletic Conference, Wichita State baseball will play in its conference championship game.

In 90-degree temperatures, the Shockers needed to avoid two consecutive defeats against one-seeded East Carolina University (ECU) in order to advance to the AAC championship.

Wichita State lost a heartbreaker Saturday morning, 5-4, necessitating a win-or-go-home game later in the day that the Shockers won, 12-2.

Wichita State (32-28) advances to its first conference championship game since 2013, keeping a season alive that looked dead in April when the team suffered a six-game losing streak. ECU ends its season at 43-15, although the Pirates are projected for an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

In the morning game, the Shockers took a 2-0 lead through six innings as senior Caden Favors delivered scoreless inning after inning on the mound. In the seventh, ECU rallied for a run on Favors and followed with a solo homer to tie the game, 2-2.

The Shockers retook the lead with a pinch-hit single from sophomore Jaden Gustafson in the eighth. Senior Seth Stroh added an insurance run with a solo shot in the ninth.

Three outs away from the AAC championship game, senior closer Nate Adler gave up a double, single and sacrifice fly to cut the lead to one run. Another single and sacrifice fly tied the game.

With the bases loaded and two outs, ECU sophomore Dixon Williams stole home to walk off the game, taking advantage of a casual throw back to Adler from junior catcher Mauricio Millan.

Five hours after the gut-punch loss, Wichita State was forced to regroup and play an elimination game against the Pirates, who scored first in the second inning, 1-0.

The Shockers showed some resilience in the third, loading the bases before scoring two runs on RBI walks and three more on an error and RBI single from freshman Kam Durnin.

After an ECU solo homer in the fourth, freshman Lane Haworth broke the game open with a three-run homer in the fifth, putting the Shockers ahead, 9-2.

With two outs in the eighth, the Shockers put together a two-out rally to score three more runs. ECU went down scoreless in the bottom of the inning, putting the run-rule into effect and sending Wichita State to the championship.
Freshman Brady Hamilton delivered on the mound for Wichita State, starting the game and going five innings with six strikeouts and two runs allowed. ECU out hit the Shockers in the game, but Wichita State collectively took 10 walks to the Pirates’ three.

Wichita State will face third-seeded Tulane in the AAC title game on Sunday for the right to play in the NCAA tournament. When they played this season, Tulane took two of three games from the Shockers in Eck Stadium during the aforementioned April slump. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 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.
Garima Thapa
Garima Thapa, Photographer
Garima Thapa is a second-year photographer for The Sunflower.

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