Cougars clobber Cal two games out of three

Advincula hits .500 over weekend, Spencer slings a gem



WSU Outfield Jonah Advincula runs to third base at an NCAA Baseball Game against Santa Clara April 22, 2023. Pullman, Wash.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

Friday’s game had barely begun before WSU center fielder and leadoff hitter Jonah Advincula sent the third pitch of the game sailing over the right field fence.

Advincula’s lead-off home run was part of a 3-for-5 Friday and a 7-for-14 (.500) weekend which included the leadoff home run, four doubles, two walks, two RBIs’ and six runs scored.

WSU baseball (29-20, 10-16 Pac-12) beat the California Golden Bears (22-25, 10-17 Pac-12) two games out of three.

With the series win, the Cougs kicked Cal outside of the Pac-12’s top nine teams who will qualify for the 2023 Pac-12 Baseball Tournament.

The Cougs are now in eighth place and Cal is in 10th place. However, just two games separate four teams: seventh-place UCLA (11-14-1 Pac-12), eighth-place WSU, ninth-place Arizona (10-17) and Cal.

Thankfully the Cougs won the series against each of those teams and hold the tiebreaker.

This season is already the best of the Brian Green era, as the WSU head coach has improved upon his win record in each of his four seasons.

Friday and Sunday’s wins were WSU’s 28th and 29th of the season and officially set a new career high for Green and his staff. The Cougs have boasted a winning record in each of Green’s seasons. They were 9-7 in the pandemic-shortened year of 2020, 26-23 in 2021 and 27-26 in 2022.

Friday 9-5 win

The Cougars won Friday’s game behind six solid innings from starter Dakota Hawkins, fresh off throwing 12 strikeouts the Friday before against Washington.

Hawkins’ Apple Cup performance was the second most strikeouts thrown by a single player in a single game in program history and it was the seventh time a Coug had thrown at least 12 Ks in a game.

Dakota Hawkins celebrates to his dugout vs. UW, May 5.

With history still on his mind, Hawkins was not quite as sharp but still solid. The senior allowed four runs on six hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.

The one-two punch of Hawkins and Caden Kaelber proved to be formidable once again as Kaelber pitched the final three frames. He allowed one run, walked no one and struck out five.

Following Advincula’s leadoff home run, Will Cresswell kept the Cougar offense cooking as sprinkled in the spice required to create an oppo taco. Cresswell cranked his fifth home run of the year to right field in the second inning to raise the Cougar lead to 3-0.

In the third inning, Jacob McKeon willed a scorching ball on the fair side of third base for a double to score Sam Brown from first. McKeon scored on a pitcher error and with Elijah Hainline on base after the error, Cam Magee cashed in a two-out home run to plate four in the third and raise the WSU lead to 7-0.

Cal hit three home runs to score five, but it would be too little too late as the Cougars won game one 9-5.

Saturday 16-10 loss

The Cougs were not as fortunate Saturday as Grant Taylor once again had a rough outing. 

Taylor is typically cash-money for the Cougs but has not made it past the fourth inning in three straight starts.

WSU pitcher Grant Taylor looks to throw a pitch at an NCAA Baseball Game against Santa Clara April 22, 2023. Pullman, Wash.

Taylor pitched just two innings against the Golden Bears as he allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits and a walk. He did not strike out anyone.

McKabe Cottrell got lit up for seven runs in the third and fourth. Duke Brotherton (two runs), Cam Liss and Andrew Baughn (one run allowed each) tried their best to keep the Bears at bay.

The Cougs converted six hits and a walk during the first two frames into a 3-0 lead, but Taylor’s trouble in the second and third innings would soon give the lead away.

After two spotty innings, Cal starter Paulshawn Pasqualotto calmed down as he allowed just one more run on three hits and one walk to finish with a respectable four runs allowed (three earned) on nine hits with three walks and four strikeouts through six innings.

The Golden Bear bullpen let the Cougar offense cut Cal’s 14-4 lead in half to make it a 14-9 ballgame after the top of the seventh, but it was just a tease as Cal cruised to a 16-10 victory.

Advincula slugged two doubles and Brown, McKeon and Cresswell each hit one as well but the Cougar’s were simply outscored (16-10) and out-hit (18-15).

Sunday 9-1 win

Sunday was an ideal game for the Cougs in nearly every sense. Shane Spencer pitched seven beautiful one-run innings as he struck out six and Caden Kaelber struck out three in two scoreless frames to lock it down.

Sam Brown punctuated the Cougs’ modest (by college baseball standards) offensive performance with a pair of home runs. He extended his on-base streak to 26 games entering the final weekend of the regular season.

Sam Brown hits against the Huskies, May 7.

Advincula and Cresswell slugged doubles yet again and McKeon’s third inning single extended his on-base streak to 27 games.

WSU first baseman Jacob McKeon heads to the batter circle during an NCAA baseball game against Arizona, April 16, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougs turn their attention to their final three games of the regular season against the Pac-12-leading and top-five nationally-ranked Stanford Cardinal (34-14, 20-7 Pac-12).

WSU pitcher Dakota Hawkins gets ready to throw a pitch during an NCAA baseball game against Santa Clara, Friday, April 21, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougs will honor their nine departing seniors – a group which includes ace Hawkins, hot-hitting McKeon and closer Kaelber prior to their final regular season game at 12:05 p.m. Saturday at Bailey-Brayton Field in Pullman.