March 3, 2008


Around the Bases
Dirtbags complete sweep of Shockers

By Abbey Mastracco

LONG BEACH, Calif. - They just weren't ready.

Gene Stephenson, head coach of the 13th-ranked Wichita State Shockers, made it clear: No excuses, they just weren't in competitive form this weekend, as they were overtaken by No. 10 Long Beach State 8-3 Sunday at Blair Field, completing the Dirtbags' sweep over the Shockers.

"We're not ready to play, let's just face it," Stephenson said. "I'm in no way downgrading Long Beach's pitching, they had outstanding pitchers. I'm upset over the fact that we can't compete better at the plate."

The sweep was a first for the Dirtbags, who were swept at Blair by the Shockers (3-3) two years ago. In school history, LBSU (5-2) had never swept Wichita State.

"Hopefully we remember this and how we did it," Dirtbags head coach Mike Weathers said. "You don't get many opportunities, especially in nonconference against our schedule, to sweep. We didn't do that last week, but we got a chance today and they did."

Wichita State jumped out to a lead early in the top of the first after Dusty Coleman's two-run homer off Jake Thompson, but failed to hold the lead, as the Dirtbags tied it up in the bottom of the inning.

The Shockers peppered Thompson for seven hits in his seven innings but failed to drive in runners in scoring position.

"We didn't compete well with men in scoring position," Stephenson said. "We saw that all weekend. We had bad at-bats from a lot of really good hitters. And that's disappointing."

LBSU went down quietly in the second and third innings but blew the game open in the fourth with a two-out rally.

Tied at 2, Tim Kelley loaded the bases, giving up back-to-back singles to Chris Nelson and Rylan Sandoval and hitting Danny Espinosa with a pitch. Kelley then walked Shane Peterson before Ted Lemasters smacked a pinch-hit single between diving infielders into right, driving in two for a 5-2 lead.

The Dirtbags took a four-run lead in the bottom of the fifth when Taylor Krick crushed a solo home run - a shot that went over the wall about 5 feet left of the 400-foot mark.

Peterson and Lemasters led LBSU, with Peterson going 2 for 4 with two doubles and five RBI, and Lemasters going 1 for 2 with a double and two RBI.

Pitching was Wichita's weakness Sunday. Kelley and Grant Muncrief, both freshmen, couldn't seem to hit their spots. In just over three innings, Kelley walked two, hit two, had one wild pitch and made a costly throwing error. Andy Womack hit a batter and walked one, and Muncrief, who finished out the game, walked three. Kelley took the loss, while Thompson was credited with the win.

Stephenson said his squad made two critical errors: missing a double-play ball in the first inning, leading to two runs, and walking two batters and hitting one with two outs and nobody on in the fourth. Although his young arms struggled with control, he felt his relievers did well getting themselves out of tough innings, especially considering the appearance was Muncrief's first career outing in college.

"I thought my freshman pitcher pitched a whale of an inning in his first outing ever in college," Stephenson said.

Stephenson was unhappy with several parts of the weekend, from the lack of capitalization on runners in scoring position to the injuries that forced the Shockers to play without some of their regulars. But Stephenson blamed none of that on the lost weekend.

"Make no excuses," Stephenson said. "We're not ready to play."