Cougar Baseball with third straight winning season

Comebacks against ranked opponents, dominant pitching, soaring offense highlight 2022 season



WSU pitcher Cole McMilllan throws a pitch during an NCAA collegiate baseball game against Utah, April 1, at Bailey-Brayton Field.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU baseball (27-26, 12-18) concluded their 2022 baseball season May 21 with a 10-3 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Cougs finished in ninth place in the PAC 12 conference, one game behind Arizona State for the last spot in the first ever PAC 12 baseball conference tournament. 

This is WSU’s third straight winning season overall and their 13-7 home record is their best since the 2017 season. 

This season the Cougs were led offensively by Jack Smith, Jacob McKeon, Justin Van De Brake and Kyle Russell. Smith led the Cougs in hits with 69 and RBIs with 36. Smith had a batting average of .358 which was good for fifth in the conference. McKeon had 56 hits and 32 RBIs with a team leading seven homers to give him a batting average of .348. Van De Brake had 54 hits and 31 RBIs with three homers for the Cougs. Russell gave the Cougs 51 hits and 23 RBIs on 193 at bats for an average of .264. 

Pitching for WSU was led by Cole McMillan, Grant Taylor, McKabe Cottrell and Caden Kaelber. McMillan had 76 innings pitched with 71 strikeouts and 81 hits with 51 runs allowed for an ERA of 5.45. Taylor had 75 hits and 50 runs allowed with 71 strikeouts in 71 innings pitched for an ERA of 4.67. Cottrell gave up 51 runs on 72 hits with 48 strikeouts. Kaelber pitched 42 innings and had 37 strikeouts on 34 hits and 21 runs allowed for an ERA of 3.64. 


The Cougs started their 2022 campaign by winning their first two games against the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors. They then lost their next two against Hawai’i to tie the series. The Cougs first series win of the season came in the next series against Long Island where WSU won 2/3. WSU had a good month of February to set themselves up for the month of March, and the first games of the conference. 

MARCH: 4-12

WSU had an extremely tough month of March, winning only four of the 16 games played and two of their four wins coming in the first week in March. The Cougs earned a victory against Tarleton State to set them up for the Frisco College baseball classic where WSU won one of the three games in the classic. Their lone win came against Texas A&M. Their losses came against Wichita State and Iowa. 

The Cougs hosted then ranked No. 4 Oregon State for their first conference matchup of the season. The Cougs got smacked 13-3 in the first game then lost the second game, but had maybe their best game of the season in the third and final game of the series against the Beavers as the Cougs won 9-8. Collin Montez tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with an RBI single, and Bryce Matthews had a walk off RBI single next at bat to win the game and avoid the sweep.

 After defeating Bushnell, the Cougs traveled to Seattle where they got swept by the Huskies in a three-game series which started a chain of losses for WSU. Including the Husky series, WSU lost 10 straight games including getting swept by then ranked No. 18 Stanford. 

APRIL: 8-9

The Cougs seemed to get back on track in April with a positive month, winning nine of their 17 games. They started April winning one of three games against the Utah Utes and followed it up with a 12-0 loss against then ranked No. 15 Gonzaga to set up their series against then ranked No. 9 Arizona. The Cougs took it to the Wildcats and won two games to win the series. Russell had RBI singles in both the eighth and ninth innings of the second game to lead WSU to a 6-5 victory, and gave the Cougs their first conference series win of the season. 

WSU then took one game from the Cal Golden Bears, and defeated Seattle U to set up a matchup against then ranked No. 10 Oregon. After losing the first game 8-7 in heartbreaking fashion by a walk off in the 10th inning, the Cougs won the next two games 10-8 and 8-7 with an extra inning win of their own. In the extra inning win for WSU, McKeon had a two-run homer to lead the Cougs to their second conference series win of the month. 

The Cougs followed up the Ducks series with a nail biting 6-5 victory over then ranked No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs. The next conference series came against last place USC Trojans, where WSU won 2/3. 

MAY: 9-3

The last month of the season was the best month for the Cougs who won nine games and only lost three. After closing out the USC series with a win May 1, WSU swept Utah Valley in Pullman and beat UC Riverside to give the Cougs a five game winning streak, and won their first four games in May. The Cougs only losses of May all came against then-ranked No. 15 UCLA Bruins who swept the Cougs in Los Angeles. WSU had a chance to win the last game against the Bruins, but UCLA had a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to obtain the sweep.

 After that series, WSU went on their second four game winning streak in May as they defeated the Portland Pilots in Portland and swept the Arizona State Sun Devils in Pullman to close out the 2022 season on a high. The game against Portland was the Cougs best pitched game of the season as they allowed two hits and had a collective of 14 strikeouts between the WSU pitchers including 10 from Dakota Hawkins. 

The Cougs missed out on the first ever PAC 12 conference baseball tournament by one game, finishing in ninth place while Arizona State finished eighth and made the tournament. Although the Cougs didn’t make the tournament, their month of May proved to be a bright spot, and is something the Cougs need to build on going into the offseason in preparation for the 2023 season.