WSU baseball takes season series against Huskies

WSU took two of three games against cross-state rivals, clinched Boeing Apple Cup Series for the first time

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OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Junior Kyle Manzardo doubled in two runs in the seventh to bring his season total of RBIs up to 60, the first Cougar to hit the milestone since Jim Murphy in 2008.

AARIK LONG, Evergreen copy editor

After having two meetings in Seattle earlier this year postponed, WSU finally got to face the Washington Huskies on the diamond. The Cougars would end up taking two of three games by scores of 8-1, 7-14 and 9-1.

Game one featured five innings of shutout baseball for both teams. Finally, in the sixth inning, the Huskies broke through to take a 1-0 lead.

However, that lead did not last long, as the Cougars broke into the run column as well. In the bottom half of the sixth, the Cougars tallied eight runs to take the lead away. That would be the last time either team scored in the game.

The only player to homer in game one of the series was sophomore Preston Clifford, who put one over the fence for the first time in his collegiate career.

Despite putting up an eight on offense, the highlight of game one for WSU was junior starting pitcher Brandon White. White did not allow a hit through the first five innings and only gave up a pair of hits and one run in the sixth. The win marks number six on the year for White.

“I just tried to focus on challenging the hitters, getting ahead early and then when I get behind, challenging with the fastball and making them beat me with hits,” White said. “Still had a couple of walks, but my defense helped me out.”

Game two did not go in favor of the Cougars, as the Husky offense finally got going in the series.

Washington jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice groundout. WSU was able to come back in the third to take a 2-1 lead, but the Huskies reclaimed the lead with a six-run fourth and never looked back, taking the game 14-7.

Despite the 21 combined runs, neither team hit one out of Bailey-Brayton Field in the second meeting.

Junior starting pitcher Zane Mills was able to bring his season strikeout total up to 83, making that the most by any WSU player since Aaron McKenzie threw 95 in 2004. However, Mills was also pulled from the game after not recording an out in the fourth and giving up five runs in that inning alone.

Finally, WSU closed out the 2021 campaign with a 9-1 win against the Huskies on Saturday. The win not only meant a win in the season baseball series, but also a win in the Boeing Apple Cup Series, WSU’s first since the competition began in the 2018-19 season.

The Cougars took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first and never lost it.

Sophomore starting pitcher Grant Taylor took the mound for the Cougars, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing only one run.

Offensively, fifth-year senior Tristan Peterson and senior Collin Montez led the way with three hits each.

Junior Kyle Manzardo doubled in two runs in the seventh to bring his season total of RBIs up to 60, the first Cougar to hit the milestone since Jim Murphy in 2008.

“It’s awesome just to see how far all the returners have come,” Manzardo said. “Something like this, the season we had, wasn’t really imaginable two years ago. Feels very special to be a part of this team. I feel like we’ll be remembered as the group that kind of started the fire here.”

Senior pitcher Michael Newstrom threw one inning in relief, recording his 34th appearance of the year, the most ever for any WSU pitcher in a single season.

The series leaves WSU with a 26-23 record, marking their first full season over .500 since 2015. The 13-17 conference record for WSU also sits as the team’s best since going 14-16 in 2014.