WICHITA - Wichita State got out to a hot start for the second game in a row, building a big lead and hanging onto it to clinch the series victory against the Southern Illinois Salukis, 9-1.
For the second game in a row, the Shockers (21-9, 7-1) got the bats going early. On Saturday afternoon, WSU put a four-spot up in the team's first trip to the plate and wouldn't need more than that, although the Shocks weren't done for the day.
Senior outfielder Ryan Jones led the charge at the plate, going 3-for-3 that included a two-run opposite field bomb. Junior designated hitter Preston Springer chipped in four more RBI during his 2-for-4 effort.
For the Salukis (15-16, 4-4), just three hitters collected all but two of Southern Illinois' hits. Second baseman Blake Pinnon posted a three-hit performance to pace the offense. Left fielder Nick Johnson notched the Salukis' only RBI when he was hit by a Tim Kelley (5-1) pitch with the bases loaded.
Kelley (5-1) became the first Shocker pitcher to five wins this season after a seven-inning, one-run performance. The redshirt junior surrendered eight hits, walked one and struck out seven on Saturday. Right-hander Nick Forer (1-2) took the loss for SIU. After giving up six runs - just one earned - in the first two innings, the Saluki starter settled in and threw four scoreless innings.
Kelley allowed two hits on two pitches to start the game, but didn't let the Salukis get any further from there. A strikeout and a come-backer ended the threat. Had Kelley not worked himself out of the early jam, however, his offense would have done so for him.
Two Saluki errors aided a four-run Shocker first. Another SIU miscue in the Shockers' following at bat allowed Jones an earlier trip to the plate. He capitalized on the opportunity. With the wind on his side, Jones smacked an opposite-field home run to left, giving the Shockers the 6-0 lead heading into the third.
A leadoff single from center fielder Chris Murphy, a one-out walk and another single loaded the bases for Southern Illinois in the top of the third. After Johnson was hit by a pitch to bring Murphy home, Kelley struck and flew out the next two batters to end the threat.
Kelley finished the seventh before handing the 6-1 lead over to senior reliever Cobey Guy for the eighth and ninth innings. The Shocker bats gave Guy some support, as well. In the bottom of the eighth, freshman Nate Goro crushed a one-out double to the right field corner and scored on freshman second baseman Walker Davidson's base knock. Springer's single to right posted the last two runs of the game to give the Shockers the 9-1 victory.
The final game of the series is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. Sunday is Emergency Services Personnel Day at Eck Stadium. All emergency personnel will receive two tickets with their ID.