WSU baseball earns five All-Pac-12 selections

McKeon, Brown earn first-team selections; Cougars earn most selections in 14 years



Sam Brown leads Cougs out ahead of first pitch against Stanford, May 19.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

WSU baseball fell short of its goal to qualify for the 2023 Pac-12 Baseball Tournament but was nonetheless home to five All-Pac-12 honorees, including first-team selections senior Jacob McKeon and transfer Sam Brown.

Transfer center fielder Jonah Advincula, breakout sophomore second baseman Elijah Hainline and senior starting pitcher Dakota Hawkins earned honorable mentions.

Their five selections are the most since the 2010 team’s nine, according to WSU Athletics.

McKeon was one of the most dominant hitters in the WSU lineup and in the Pac-12 Conference. He ended his season and collegiate career with a 30-game on-base streak.

The Cougars’ designated hitter hit .341 while ending tied for sixth in the Pac-12 with 18 doubles, slammed eight home runs and accounted for 47 RBI and scored 52 runs. He was also a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts.

McKeon delivered 21 multi-hit games, including the Cougars’ lone five-hit game, May 18 against Pac-12-leading Stanford, in which he reached base six times and hit two home runs.

“[McKeon is] a guy who demonstrates all of the right habits. He’s what we want this program to be about,” head coach Brian Green said after the Cougars’ final game of the season, Saturday in Pullman.

McKeon is the first Coug since current New York Yankee reliever Ian Hamilton in 2014—15 to earn All-Conference honors in back-to-back seasons.

“He’s gonna crush it in life, should get a chance to play professional baseball and hang around for a while with that,” Green said. “We’ll work really hard to make that happen, but Jacob McKeon is an absolute pro and I’ve been really proud to coach him.”

WSU’s other first-team selection transferred to the Pac-12 from the West Coast Conference’s University of Portland.

In 2023, Brown played wicked defense at first base, being a steady glove and playmaker the Cougs could rely on.

At Portland, Brown was a solid hitter, who hit .315 in an All-Conference Second Team Campaign and .247 in an All-Conference Honorable Mention season. He hit 11 home runs during his two years at Portland, a mark he matched in one year on the Palouse.

Brown began his Bailey-Brayton Field career by homering in each of his first four games in Pullman.

He hit within the top seven in the Pac-12 in six offensive categories. He led the Cougs with the Conference’s sixth-best batting average (.374), tied for third in doubles (19), sixth in RBIs (58), sixth in slugging (.674), seventh in on-base percentage (.481) and led the league in a rather painful category with 19 hit-by-pitches.

Brown led Wazzu with 22 multi-hit games and 19 multi-RBI games and posted a 2023 team-best 14-game hitting streak.

Advincula was another transfer who made an immediate impact on WSU baseball. After the first week of the season, the junior transfer from Redlands University led the nation with 13 RBI and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week. 

Advincula was top 10 in the Conference in four offensive categories, including third in the Pac-12 in doubles (20) and stolen bases (24), the most doubles by a Cougar since 2006 and most stolen bases since 1996. 

He was ninth in the league in hitting (.350) and recorded four triples, five home runs, 33 RBI and led the team with 70 hits (tied with Brown and McKeon) and scored a team-best 53 runs. 

Advincula posted 21 multi-hit games including six 3-hit games. He had a 13-game hitting streak and a 22-game on-base streak.

In year two on the Palouse, Spokane’s Hainline led the Cougs in home runs with 12. The Mead High School star hit his 12th late in game three against Stanford when the team’s mood was at a season-low.

Hainline batted .337 with 12 doubles and 10 stolen bases. His team-leading 12 home runs were the most by a Coug since 2012.

Hainline posted 20 multi-hit games, including six 3-hit games.

He is also one of the highest academic performers, earning Academic All-District honors after posting a 3.8 GPA. The sophomore infielder majors in kinesiology.

Hawkins tied for the team lead with five wins in a season in which he was fifth in the Pac-12 in innings (73.0) and third in strikeouts (92). 

The senior starter’s 92 strikeouts are the ninth-most in WSU single-season history and were part of a season in which the WSU pitching staff set a program record for strikeouts in a single season with a collective 

Hawkins is one of the best starters the Cougs have seen in recent years and made it known against the WSU Cougars’ bitter in-state rival University of Washington.

Hawkins struck out 12 Huskies May 5, tied for the fourth-most strikeouts in WSU single-game history and the second-most by a Cougar against UW in series history. 

Although WSU failed to qualify for the Pac-12 Tournament. The Cougs won 29 games, the best in the Brian Green era and will return to the diamond in 2024 with much of their roster hopefully intact, including three of their All-Pac-12 selections.