Home Plate | Photo by Dominic Wenrick | The Wright State Guardian
Wright State University men’s baseball looks ready for conference play, as the Raiders shut down the Toledo Rockets 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon.
The matchup showcased seven WSU pitchers taking the mound against the Rockets, with WSU only giving up two runs in the nine innings of play. The fresh pitchers kept Toledo’s hitters lost, and WSU came away with a clean win.
“On the mound, we did a really good job,” Alex Sogard, head coach for WSU, said. “We went eight for nine getting the leadoff hitter out to start the inning, and that just set the tone perfectly.”
Seven off the mound
From starting pitcher Ty Roder to closer Tristan Haught, WSU’s pitching staff picked up the pace of the game, attacking batters in the zone. Sogard and the pitching coaches kept a quick rotation going, only giving pitchers a maximum of two innings.
“Ty Roder got his first career start, and the plan was for him to go a little shorter,” Sogard said. “Our bullpen struggled early in the season, and we’re trying to get everyone comfortable with conference play starting this week.”
Alex Theis threw two innings for the Raiders, only allowing one hit in seven batters. Theis struggled against tough SEC competition before Wednesday, but Theis’s slider was lethal against the Rockets, curving just inside the strike zone.
“It started in the bullpen. I was putting in some pretty good breaking balls, and that’s my main pitch,” Theis said. “When that’s feeling good, and I can translate that onto the mound, it’s really good for me.”
Theis struck out two batters out of seven and lowered a personal season ERA tremendously. Behind Theis, side-arm pitcher Chris Gellagher, left-arm pitcher Joey Valentine and closer Haught all kept the Rockets vulnerable, unable to make real contact with the ball.
“[Theis’s] slider was so good today,” Sogard said. “We probably threw 70 percent sliders with him … We did the same with Haught. He threw a lot of sliders because he’s got a good one, and they just weren’t putting good swings on it.”
Pitching dominance was not enough for WSU to take home the win, as the team’s baserunning in Wednesday’s action was also calculated, but aggressive, to get ahead.
Gehrig Anglin was crucial on the bases for the Raiders, as Toledo walked Anglin three times. Anglin also scored two runs and stole two bases throughout the game. Anglin would often hang far off the base, but the Rockets could never pick the infielder off.
“That’s Anglin,” Sogard said. “He’s, in my opinion, one of our best base runners. He’s been doing it for a long time, and I think we can have more success doing it if guys just trust their abilities.”
For Andrew Patrick, WSU’s lead-off hitter, the team wants to be more aggressive than this game in the future, stealing more bases and causing more chaos for the other team.
“We want to put as much pressure as we can on opposing defenses,” Patrick said. “Just really being aggressive and trying to cause them to make errors. We’ve gotten a lot better at that recently.”
One of the deciding plays of the afternoon was a perfect example of causing errors. At the bottom of the fifth inning, Parker Harrison struck out, but the Rockets’ catcher lost the ball.
Harrison ran for first, and while the runner did get thrown out, two runs scored on that same play as Anglin and Sammy Sass slid in at home plate. The Raiders had turned a strikeout into two runs from pushing the team’s limits.
“I really liked that play Gehrig Anglin scored from third. It was a strikeout, but we forced the throw to first, and Sammy Sass had a good read that it was a bad throw, so we ended up scoring two on a strikeout,” Sogard said.
WSU has its first conference matchup this Friday, as the RaiderGang takes on Purdue Fort Wayne in a three-game series over the weekend.