Cougar baseball drops game one versus No. 3 Stanford in ‘almost Jacob McKeon game’

McKeon 5-for-5 with 2 home runs, Cougars conceded 3 home runs late, lose 7-6 (10)



WSU takes a mound visit to game plan ahead of Carter Grahams at-bat, May 18.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

It was close. Perhaps too close to call. But Pac-12 umpires determined that WSU center fielder Jonah Advincula was tagged out at home plate by Cardinal catcher Malcolm Moore while attempting to steal home on a passed ball in the eighth inning, at the Thursday night game at Baily-Brayton Field in Pullman.

Moore’s tag ended the inning and got the Cardinal out of a bases-loaded jam.

The home plate umpire initially called Advincula safe and awarded WSU what proved to be a false 6-5 lead. The score remained 5-5 after the call and throughout the ninth inning, granting the Pullman crowd free baseball.

Stanford catcher and Jonah Advincula react to safe call on close play at the plate, May 18.

At nearly 11 p.m. in the top of the 10th, Stanford provided Pullman fireworks in the form of two solo blasts which sailed right over the head of Advincula — the man who was called out at home plate after scoring what most believed to be the go-ahead (and would-be winning) run in the eighth.

Looking to secure a Pac-12 Tournament bid, WSU baseball (29-21, 10-17 Pac-12) came up short against the Conference’s perineal powerhouse Stanford Cardinal (35-14, 21-7) in game one of the final regular season weekend.

The Cougar offense was active early as Sam Brown hit a solo homer to right-center field in the first inning. Senior Jacob McKeon wasted little time kicking off the senior weekend festivities with a firecracker of his own to left-center field.  

McKeon’s day was far from done as he hit another home run in his next at-bat. He led the Cougs in hits (five), RBIs (three), runs (two) and home runs (two). He walked once, one less than second baseman Elijah Hainline who was 1-for-3 with two walks.

McKeon’s perfect 5-for-5 day was possibly the best individual game by a Coug this season, but because of the loss was regulated to a simple footnote in a heartbreaking game.

Jacob McKeon hits a home run in the bottom of the first against Stanford, May 18.

Senior Dakota Hawkins provided the cake to WSU’s early senior celebration as he sliced through the nationally-ranked Stanford lineup.

Hawkins allowed four runs (three earned) while walking three and striking out eight as he left two runners on when he exited in the seventh.

Hawkins’ eight Ks brought his season total to 92, the ninth-most for a pitcher in a single season in program history.

Dakota Hawkins delivers a pitch during eight strikeout performance against Stanford, May 18.

Senior reliever Caden Kaelber brought the ice cream to the senior celebration, but his delivery melted on three occasions in the form of three home runs allowed that proved to be the difference in the game.

Caden Kaelber reacts to his dugout after getting out of jam in late innings against Stanford, May 18.

The senior reliever struck out four through four innings, but Stanford’s Tommy Troy got the best of Kaelber twice. In the seventh, Troy hit a three-run blast to left center which scored the two inherited runners from Hawkins and another in the 10th with a solo blast to straightaway center field.

Troy was 2-for-3 with five RBIs, two runs and a walk.

Right fielder Bryce Matthews hit a home run to right field in the third inning after McKeon’s blast to hit back-to-back home runs for the second time in one game.

Bryce Matthews celebrates his first home run of the year, May 18.

Advincula hit a triple and scored on a Brown RBI single in the fourth inning to push the Cougar lead to 5-1. Brown and Matthews were asked to play hero in the 10th.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Cougs trailed 7-5. Cardinal reliever Ryan Bruno struggled to throw strikes early on and WSU quickly had two aboard with no outs as Jake Harvey and Advincula drew walks.

Brown, the Cougars’ leading home run hitter, stepped to the plate with the weight of Wazzu on his shoulders. He struck out swinging.

McKeon, who had already slugged two home runs, could not slug another but stung one through the infield to score Harvey from second and bring the game-tying run 90 feet from home plate.

Unfortunately, Matthews could not deliver as he grounded out into a double play to end the Wazzu threat and the game.

WSU lost 7-6 in 10 innings against the Pac-12 first-place and No. 3-ranked Stanford Cardinal.

Dakota Hawkins deals six innings of three-run ball against No. 3 Stanford, May 18.

In an arms race with five schools for the final three Pac-12 Baseball Tournament spots, WSU baseball remained in eighth place. The Cougs have an identical Conference record with Arizona (10-17) whose Thursday night game with USC was postponed.

Seventh-place UCLA (11-15-1) and 10th-place Cal (10-18) lost Thursday.

Wazzu must finish within the top nine to qualify for the Pac-12 Tournament.

Thanks to series wins, WSU owns the tiebreakers against every team in the Pac-12’s bottom five except for the eleventh-placed Utah Utes, who swept Wazzu in rather embarrassing fashion in Salt Lake City and have largely put Wazzu in this scoreboard watching-phase in the final Pac-12 weekend.

Wazzu has two more chances to beat Stanford and gain valuable ground in the hunt for their first Pac-12 Baseball Tournament spot in the Tournament’s second year of existence.

The first of those two chances is 3 p.m. Friday, the final chance is 12:05 p.m. Saturday at Baily-Brayton Field.

WSU will honor nine seniors prior to the first pitch Saturday, including McKeon, Hawkins and Kaelber.