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’Bows kept at bay

Wichita State starter Josh Smith tosses seven scoreless innings in a 6-2 win over UH

By Billy Hull

LAST UPDATED: 2:02 a.m. HST, Apr 1, 2011

The only thing that could slow down Wichita State starter Josh Smith was his own offense.

Smith tossed seven scoreless innings and the Shockers allowed Hawaii to bring the tying runner to the plate in the ninth inning before holding on for a 6-2 victory last night in front of a Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 1,304.

The Rainbows (12-14) rallied for two runs in the ninth on RBI singles by pinch hitter Collin Bennett and Kalani Brackenridge.

UH eventually loaded the bases with two outs before Aaron Labrie, Wichita State’s fourth pitcher used in the ninth, struck out Jeff Van Doornum to end the game.

“Nothing was easy (last night) and nothing will be easy (tonight),” Shockers coach Gene Stephenson said. “We’re just not clicking on very many cylinders.”

Smith’s performance was enough to make up for it and help the Shockers (18-9) even the series at a game apiece.

The 6-foot-3 lefthander from Pleasant Hill, Mo., baffled the Rainbows for seven innings, allowing four hits on one walk while matching a career high with seven strikeouts.

>> Box scores from last night’s and Wednesday night’s games

Smith (4-1) had it on cruise control from the opening batter of the game, retiring the first five hitters he faced.

He was especially tough on UH’s left-handed hitters, who were 0-for-10 with four strikeouts until Kolten Wong reached on a slow groundball to third for an infield single in the sixth.

Wong and Brackenridge hit singles in that inning, but Smith struck out the other three batters.

“We had no answer for their starter,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “(Smith) just had our number today.”

Stephenson said Smith, who was at 94 pitches, would have gone out for the eighth inning until the Shockers scored four times to take a 6-0 lead.

“After sitting that long we decided not to use him, but with a six-run lead, we should be able to handle it,” Stephenson said. “I don’t know if he would have finished it or not, but I would have much rather had that six-run lead.”

UH starter Matt Sisto, who pitched into the eighth inning for the second straight start, intentionally walked Preston Springer to load the bases with one out.

At the 103-pitch mark, Sisto was taken out for reliever Brent Harrison, who promptly gave up a bases-clearing double to Chris O’Brien, who also drove in Wichita State’s first two runs.

Third baseman Dayne Parker, who entered the game as a defensive substitution in the seventh, followed with an RBI single up the middle to give the Shockers a commanding 6-0 lead.

Sisto, who struck out the side in the seventh, dropped to 1-4 this season. Four of the five runs he gave up were earned as he walked two and struck out seven, allowing seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.

After Smith left the game, the Rainbows loaded the bases in the eighth off reliever TJ McGreevy. A walk, a single and a hit batter put three men on, but McGreevy struck out Van Doornum looking on a 3-2 pitch, and got Michael Blake to fly out to left to preserve the lead.

The series lead will be up for grabs in the third game tonight at 6:35. Hawaii will send junior right-hander Connor Little (2-1, 3.49) to the mound, opposing Wichita State left-hander Bryan Flynn (2-0, 4.44).

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