Streaking Shockers: WSU baseball sweeps Charlotte in home finale, climbs AAC standings

A freshman helped send the seniors on the Wichita State baseball team off in style this weekend at Eck Stadium.

After hitting the game-winning home run in Friday’s 2-1 victory, freshman Kam Durnin delivered another go-ahead swing, this one a three-run shot, to spur a 7-2 win on Sunday.

Paired with a dominant 11-2 win Saturday, the Shockers completed a critical American Athletic Conference series sweep in their home finale and have now won five in a row.

It is a stunning turnaround for a team under a first-year coach in Brian Green that was spiraling in the month of April, losing 17 of 21 during a five-week stretch.

But Green sensed a turning point last weekend when WSU showed its resilience to pull off a doubleheader sweep at UTSA, the second-place team in the conference. WSU followed it up this weekend with a sweep of Charlotte, which entered the week as the third-place team in the conference.

After flirting with missing out on a top-eight finish to qualify for the conference tournament less than 10 days ago, WSU (27-26, 13-11 AAC) is tied for third place with Tulane entering the final weekend of the regular season. The Shockers are in a good position to continue their strong close to the season with a road series at last-place Memphis (21-30, 8-15 AAC).

Friday’s opener was a vital game to ensure WSU’s momentum from the previous weekend wasn’t a one-off event. Freshman Tommy LaPour was brilliant on the mound, limiting Charlotte to one hit and one run through six innings of work. Hunter Holmes and Nate Adler finished off the next three innings to combine for a two-hitter, while Durnin’s home run in the bottom of the sixth inning was all the offense WSU needed to win.

In Saturday’s 11-2 win, Seth Stroh homered twice to highlight an offensive explosion for the Shockers. Stroh’s three-run blast in the second inning staked WSU to a 4-1 lead. Then the Shockers erupted for five runs in the eighth inning to pull away for a comfortable victory.

Dayvin Johnson also homered in Saturday’s game, while Stroh finished with two homers and six RBIs on his birthday. Derek Williams was 3-for-4 at the plate, while Jordan Rogers, Mauricio Millan and Camden Johnson all added RBIs.

Caden Favors added another dominant start to his sterling season, allowing just two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings and striking out eight hitters to improve to 8-4 this season and lower his ERA to 3.39.

Sunday’s finale was a pitcher’s duel for the majority of the game, as Charlotte took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. But after Williams and Johnson reached base to lead off the inning, Durnin flipped the game with a go-ahead home run to put WSU in front, 4-2.

The momentum didn’t stop there. Millan and Johnson followed with hits, then freshman Lane Haworth delivered a bases-clearing, 2-out single and Jordan Rogers doubled to score Haworth to cap a six-run inning.

Charlotte never threatened again in the final two innings, as five different bullpen pitchers — Tyler Dobbs, Caleb Anderson, Nate Adler, Ryan Geraghty and Holmes— combined to shut out the Niners for the final four-plus innings. Freshman Brady Hamilton threw 4 2/3 innings in the start, allowing just two earned runs and striking out six.