Baseball reaches second best start in Brian Green era

7-1 on the season is best start since 2021



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 (7-1) ended their second week of non-conference play by winning three of four in San Diego as they competed in the Tony Gwynn Classic. 

Their 7-1 start on the season is the second-best under head coach Brian Green, in 2021 the Cougs went 9-1 in their first 10 games that season. With Southern Indiana coming to Pullman over the weekend for a three-game series, we could see the Cougs go 10-1 after three weeks of baseball. That would be the best non-conference record for the Cougs since 2021, when the Cougs went 10-2. 

The first day on Friday saw a doubleheader from WSU as San Diego moved their Saturday game to Friday in preparation for potential rain that area was expected to see. The Cougs lost their first game Friday 8-3 against UC Irvine, but bounced back later that day as they routed San Diego State 14-1.

Sunday saw the Cougs get a hard-earned 3-2 win against UC San Diego and Monday had WSU rally after giving up seven runs in one inning early but got the job done and defeated UNLV 10-9. 

Game 1: WSU vs. UC Irvine, 3-8

WSU collapsed Friday in the late innings of the game, allowing UC Irvine to score two runs in the seventh and three runs in the eighth to propel them to victory as they defeated WSU 8-3. 

Starting pitcher Dakota Hawkins picked up his first loss of the season, but was still active on the mound as he pitched four innings, allowed three runs on seven hits, but struck out seven batters and did not walk anyone in the game. Reliever Andrew Baughn went three innings for the Cougs and allowed two unearned runs with three strikeouts. 

Offensively, the Cougs had seven hits in the game. Will Cresswell hit a solo home run in the game for one of the three runs, and the other two came from RBIs from Jacob McKeon and Alan Shibley. 

Game 2: WSU vs. San Diego State, 14-1

The Friday afternoon game saw the Cougs offense come back to life as they put up 14 runs against the Aztecs. WSU had 10 hits in the game compared to five from San Diego State. 

After three innings the Cougs led 2-0. In the fourth, WSU exploded for eight runs to lead 10-0. McKeon led the way with five RBIs including a two-run home run and a single that scored two runners in the top of the ninth. He also scored the opening run of the game off a wild pitch. Sam Brown also had three RBIs in the game. 

Caden Kaelber went six innings for the Cougs and allowed one run on three hits with seven strikeouts as his record improved to 2-0. 

Game 3: WSU vs. UC San Diego, 3-2

Sunday’s game was a nail-biter from start to finish for Coug fans. Starting pitcher Grant Taylor went five innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He also had seven strikeouts in the game and walked three batters. UC San Diego scored both of their runs off Taylor in the bottom of the first inning as Taylor got off to a slow start, but picked it up for his last four innings. 

Both teams had six hits in the game, WSU had three errors compared to only one from UC San Diego. The Cougs did not score until the top of the sixth inning when Jonah Advincula picked up an RBI after he hit a double, then advanced to third after a wild relay throw that caused Jake Harvey to score. McKeon then sent Advincula home after his RBI double in the inning. 

WSU scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth as Cresswell hit a solo homer, his second of the season. He had zero homers last season in 53 at-bats in 26 games. Chase Grillo also picked up his second save of the season as he struck out one of the three batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth to close the game. 

Game 4: WSU vs. UNLV, 10-9

The last game of the classic saw WSU dig deep, going down 9-3 after three innings. After the horrid third, the pitching picked up as Ryan Orr and Kaelber pitched four scoreless innings combined. Of the five batters Kaelber faced, he struck out four of them, bringing his total strikeouts on the season to 19 in 13.2 innings pitched.

Offensively, WSU had a decent game, getting 11 hits and scoring at least one run in six of the nine innings. McKeon had a two-RBI double in the second inning and Brown and Jacob Morrow both had two RBIs each. Advincula had an RBI in the game bringing his total to 15. McKeon has had an underrated start to the season as he also now has 15 RBIs on the season after this weekend.

The next time the Cougs take the field will be Friday as they host Southern Indiana for a three-game series as WSU opens up its first home series of 2023. The first game will be at 4:05 p.m. at Bailey-Brayton field.