WSU Baseball top five games of the season: April 9 vs. Arizona Wildcats

Cougs got back to winning ways, took game one against Wildcats



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

Coming off a 10-game losing streak and losing 11-of-12, the Cougs needed a major turnaround. In April, the Cougs came to play against the then-ranked No. 9 Arizona Wildcats.

In April, WSU won two-of-three games against the Wildcats and earned their first Pac-12 conference win of the season. In the first game of the series, the Cougs dominated after going down 4-0 after one inning and won the game 11-5 off 14 hits from the Cougs.

The second game of the series is one of WSU’s top games of the season because they had to fight for every run in the game and rallied late to earn the 6-5 victory.

The Cougs scored their six runs on 10 hits and one error while the Wildcats five runs came on nine hits but three errors in the game. Chase Grillo earned the pitching win for the Cougs.

Kodie Kolden started the game off with a walk but was out on a double play off the bat of Elijah Hainline. The only hit in the inning came from Jack Smith. A leadoff single for the Wildcats was the only action they had in the first inning.

The first score of the game for the Cougs came in the top of the second inning as Collin Montez scored as a wild pitch strikeout with one out to put the Cougs up 1-0. After a three-up three-down inning for the Wildcats, the Cougs would double their lead in the third with an RBI groundout from Smith who scored Kolden.

Arizona did not score until the bottom of the fourth where they scored all five of their runs. A throwing error from the Cougs with the bases loaded scored two runs to tie the game with one out. The next Wildcat batter then singled to drive in a run which was followed by two more RBI singles to give Arizona the 5-2 lead.

After the Wildcats’ explosive offensive inning, the Cougs answered with two runs of their own in the fifth. A single from both Kolden and Hainline started the inning off. Kolden scored off an RBI single from Smith. After Montez flew out, Hainline scored to cut the lead to one heading into the bottom of the inning.

The sixth and seventh innings produced no hits or runs for either team, Arizona went three-up three-down in both innings.

WSU tied the game in the top of the eighth inning. Kyle Russell scored Montez who reached base on a fielding error and reached third on a wild pitch. With two outs and runners on second and third for WSU Kolden walked to load the bases for Hainline. Hainline couldn’t produce and struckout, stranding all three runners heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Another three-up three-down for Arizona set up a ninth-inning thriller where the Cougs took advantage. Jacob McKeon walked with one out who was then taken off as Hylan Hall pinch ran for McKeon. Montez singled and Jake Meyer reached on a fielder’s choice where Montez was out but Hall advanced to third with two outs.

Russell singled next at-bat to score Hall and pick up the Cougs sixth run of the game. Justin Van De Brake then struck out to end the Cougs offensive half of the inning, but they took the lead and were three outs away from winning the series against the Wildcats.

In the bottom of the ninth the Wildcats got a one-hit single to put the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate. However, pitcher Grillo stood strong and struck out the next batter and got the last batter to fly out to end the inning and give WSU the 6-5 victory.

Grant Taylor pitched the first seven innings for WSU and gave up the five runs on eight hits. Grillo came in for the last two innings and gave up one hit with three strikeouts on 25 pitches to close the game for WSU. Taylor had six strikeouts to give him and Grillo nine strikeouts combined whereas the Wildcats put five pitchers in the game who combined for eight strikeouts.

This win gave WSU the series win over Arizona and helped get their season back on track where they won nine of 17 in April.