Paxton Wallace hit his second grand slam of the season, and Clayton McGinness tallied a career-high eight strikeouts, leading the Wichita State University baseball team to a 7-6 victory over the USF Bulls in the opening game of a three-game American Athletic Conference series Thursday, May 16, at USF Baseball Stadium.
Wichita State (25-28, 8-14 American) and USF (25-26, 7-15 American) are scheduled to play game two of the series Friday, May 17, at 5:30 p.m. CT (6:30 p.m. ET). WSU can clinch a berth in the American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship with a win.
Wallace paced the Shockers at the plate with his grand slam, which was his team-best ninth home run of the season, while Jordan Boyer added three hits, including a double, and Luke Ritter and Ross Cadena each posted a pair of hits in the contest.
A senior right-hander from Amazonia, Mo., McGinness (6-4) earned his second consecutive victory on the mound, tossing seven innings and allowing just two earned runs on five hits with only two walks, going along with his career-best eight Ks.
Junior Mitchell Walters secured his team-high eighth save of 2019 after tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
The Shockers gained a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning after Wallace scored on Brady Slavens’ sacrifice fly to center, but the Bulls had a rapid response, tying the game, 1-1, in the bottom-half of the inning when Jake Sullivan crossed home plate on a wild pitch.
Wichita State didn’t take long to answer though, and plated five runs in the top of the fifth on Ritter’s RBI single through the left side and Wallace’s grand slam to straightaway centerfield, ballooning its lead to 6-1.
WSU continued its offensive surge in the sixth, scoring a run after Jacob Katzfey raced home on a USF wild pitch, increasing its advantage to 7-2.
The Bulls attempted to mount a comeback in the bottom of the sixth, but Slavens made a leaping grab at the left field wall, robbing USF’s Alex Bello of a two-run homer for the final out of the inning.
USF rallied in the bottom of the eighth, scoring four runs to cut the Wichita State lead down to 7-6, and had the tying run at second base, but Walters entered the game and ended the threat with a strikeout.
Tyler Dietrich went 3-for-4 with two RBI, leading the Bulls offensively.
USF starter Baron Stuart (4-3) suffered the loss after allowing five earned runs and one unearned run on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk in 4 2/3 innings.