WSU Baseball top five games of the season: May 17 vs. University of Portland

Near perfect pitching in Portland provided late season win



WSU pitcher Chase Grillo pitches the ball during an NCAA collegiate baseball game against Utah, April 1, at Bailey-Brayton Field.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU baseball produced good pitching throughout most of the season and deliverd their best outing agaisnt the Portland Pilots toward the end of the season where the Cougs held the Pilots to only two hits in the game and a shutout.

This game against the Pilots is one of WSU’s top games of the season due to the control the Cougs showed defensively and on the mound.

Dakota Hawkins started the game for the Cougs and recorded 10 strikeouts in five innings of work. Cam Liss then put in two innings of work with a strikeout that was followed by a two-strikeout inning from Chase Grillo. Caden Kaelber got the save for the Cougs. Both hits in the game were given up by Hawkins.

WSU started the top of the first off with Kyle Russell reaching base off a throwing error. He then scored off an RBI double from Bryce Matthews to get the Cougs on the board early. Later in the inning, Matthews was thrown out as he attempted to steal home. The Cougs second hit of the inning came off a double from Jacob McKeon, but the Cougs stranded him on base and ended their inning with a run.

Pitching asserted their dominance early, with a three-up three-down first inning with all three batters striking out swinging. Hawkins threw 12 pitches in the inning to strike out the side.

The Cougs doubled their lead in the top of the second inning. Nate Swarts had a leadoff triple to start the inning and was driven in on a fielder’s choice RBI from Elijah Hainline. The next two Coug batters got out, but the damage was done and WSU controlled a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.

In the second Hawkins produced another three-up three-down inning with two more strikeouts, one swinging and one looking. The last out of the inning came from an outfield pop-up to keep the Pilots hitless.

The third inning was back to the top of the order for WSU. Russell popped out to center, but Matthews followed with a solo homer to extend the lead to three. McKeon had his second double of the game but was stranded on base once again.

Once again WSU produced their third straight perfect inning, this time getting two strikeouts swinging and one pop to end the inning. Both strikeouts came on full counts in the inning.

After a one-hit inning for WSU in the top of the fourth Hawkins gave up his first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth with one out. The next batter then struck out swinging and the base runner was thrown out at second as he tried to steal to end the inning and head into the fifth.

Russell and Matthews each singled in the fifth but the next two batters struck out to strand them on base and keep the score 3-0.

After two more swinging strikeouts to start the inning, the Pilots got their second hit of the game by way of a single. The next batter then flew out to center to strand the runner once again and end the Pilots’ offensive efforts.

WSU had their first offensive three-up three-down inning in the top of the sixth to end their efforts. In the bottom of the inning, the Pilots had two base runners with one out by way of a walk and a batter being hit by a pitch, however, the next batter grounded into a double play and the Cougs escaped the inning.

One more single from Russell in the seventh was the only bright spot in the inning as both Will Cresswell and Drake Anderson grounded out to second to start the inning. The Coug pitching stood tall once again with a strikeout to start the inning which was followed with a foul out and ground out to produce another three-up three-down inning.

Justin Van De Brake had a single in the top of the eighth but was tagged out on a fielder’s choice to hold the Cougs to a one-hit eighth inning. Another perfect inning for the Coug pitchers with two more strikeouts, both swinging and a fly out to shut out the Pilots with one inning to go.

WSU had a three-up three-down of their own in the top of the ninth, but got revenge with a groundout, fly out and strikeout swinging to close the game and earn the 3-0 victory over the Pilots.

The WSU pitchers combined to achieve 14 of their 27 outs via strikeout. This was the most strikeouts the Cougs had in a single game allseason, and the two hits allowed was the fewest allowed all season by WSU. The 10 strikeouts from Hawkins is a season-high his second-highest count was four in late February.

The game came at the end of the season when the Cougs were still trying to make a final push to get into the first-ever Pac-12 baseball tournament. While this game did not count toward the Pac-12 standings, it did provide a great glimpse of WSU’s potential.