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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Heck of a run’: Baseball comes up short in AAC title game shootout

Kristy Mace
Mason Munz walks back to the dugout after at the end of the fourth inning on April 9 against OSU.

One of the most important Wichita State baseball games in over a decade saw the Shockers narrowly lose the American Athletic Conference championship.

A back-and-forth shootout between Wichita State and Tulane University ended with the Green Wave walking off the AAC championship in the ninth to win, 11-10, and go to the NCAA tournament.

For Wichita State, it was a heartbreaking end to a season and tournament run where they showed resilience despite defeats. The Shockers bounced back from a 4-17 stretch in April and early May to go to their first conference title game since 2013. They end the season at 32-29.

Tulane (35-24) becomes the first team to win two consecutive AAC tournament championships.

Wichita State head coach Brian Green said he “couldn’t be more proud” of the Shockers’ program.

“We made a heck of a run and I think we represented Wichita State University in a first class and competitive manner,” Green said.

On two days rest, Wichita State freshman starting pitcher Tommy LaPour put in a gutsy effort, throwing 67 pitches in four innings and giving up three runs. With the game at 3-2 Tulane, the fifth inning lasted over an hour with the teams combining for eight runs.

The first seven batters up for the Shockers reached base in the inning as the team continually put the ball in play and ran around the bases while Tulane’s defense failed to record an out. The Shockers took a 7-3 lead.

Tulane responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning and put across four more in the sixth to lead, 10-7, with the help of two home runs. Senior outfielder Seth Stroh saved a few more runs from scoring with a two-out diving catch to end the inning.

In the seventh, it was Wichita State’s turn to respond. Junior Josh Livingston and Stroh each smashed homers to tie the game back up. The Shockers wouldn’t score again, as the bats went cold in the eighth and ninth.

Freshman Jeremiah Arnett and junior Hunter Holmes saved the game in relief for the Shockers, holding Tulane scoreless in the seventh and eighth. With a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, Holmes got through two batters and was one strike away from retiring Tulane junior Jackson Linn and going to extra innings.

Then came heartbreak. With one swing of the bat, Linn launched a bomb over the fence, his second of the game, to end Wichita State’s season.

“I feel bad for Hunter, but I hope he recognizes his achievement (and) that we would not have been in this position (without him),” Green said. “Absolute workhorse for us … (I) feel bad for him but I’m also really proud of him.”

Wichita State had 14 hits to Tulane’s 12, but the Green Wave broke the AAC championship game record with five home runs.

All of the Shockers’ starters in the lineup registered a hit. Freshman Lane Haworth had three hits and two RBIs, and Livingston continued a tournament hot streak with a two-for-four day and three RBIs.

Tulane head coach Jay Uhlman paid respects to the Shockers after what he described as a classic college baseball game.

“Credit to Wichita State, they were every bit the champion, as well,” Ulhman said. “I thought they pitched with a lot of heart, played with a lot of heart.”

Green said that for a young team in its first year under him as a coach, playing in a championship game was “invaluable” for the team’s culture.

“I think it really puts us in a position to be able to go chase it down again,” Green said. “The biggest takeaway for our program is that in year one, we got to play for a championship … culture and team and toughness can carry a long way.”

“I’m going to go into that locker room and tell the guys how proud I am of them and proud to be their coach,” Green said.

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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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