The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougs pull away to start season 1-0

Head coach Nathan Choate picks up first WSU win
WSU+pitcher+Grant+Taylor+throws+a+pitch+at+an+NCAA+Baseball+Game+against+Santa+Clara+April+22%2C+2023.+Pullman%2C+Wash.
JULIAN CABALLERO
WSU pitcher Grant Taylor throws a pitch at an NCAA Baseball Game against Santa Clara April 22, 2023. Pullman, Wash.

WSU baseball (1-0) found themselves down 2-0 after the first inning, tied 4-4 after the second and tied 5-5 after three, but after that, they took the game over. The Cougs pulled away with a four-run sixth inning in a 12-6 opening-day win over Utah Tech on the road.

“I’m not surprised, but proud of the effort these guys had,” head coach Nathan Choate said. “[It feels] really good, I’m proud of the guys.” 

The lineup picked up 18 hits, led by four players with three hits apiece. Cole Cramer, Crew Parke, Casen Taggart and Alan Shibley all picked up a trio of hits and eight different players got in on the action with a base knock. 

Despite falling behind 2-0 after the first inning, the Cougs were unphased. They immediately got to work after leaving a man on base in the first inning.

Taggart got the second inning started with a base hit, Jacob Morrow walked on a 3-1 count to make it second and first and Cramer drove in the first run of the season with a double to left field. After a strikeout and sacrifice fly made it two outs while driving in one more run, clutch singles from Max Hartman and Kyle Russell both singled to drive in one run each. 

“We’re battling for each other. Hitting is contagious, when that first guy gets up there and he battles, it just makes you want to go out there and fight,” Cramer said. 

Despite scoring 12 runs, doubling their opposition, the Cougs left several opportunities on the bases. A total of 10 base runners got left on base by the Cougs batters, but the team won’t be upset about getting double-digit production from the offense.  

Grant Taylor got the nod to be the Friday night starter to begin the season, working around giving up two runs in each of the first and second innings to throw 5.0 innings with three strikeouts and three walks, earning the win, his 11th of his college career. 

Defensively, the Cougs played elite defense, not making an error and aiding in the pitching staff, allowing just one run in the final seven innings of play. 

Andrew Baughn and Rylan Haider both got the nod out of the bullpen in the opener, each pitching 2.0 innings with Baughn giving up the final run and Haider pitching relatively clean, giving up just two hits and avoiding giving up a walk. 

The WSU offense hit the long ball three times in the win, something they accomplished 54 times as a team last season. Taggart and Cramer were two to hit a bomb, both doing so in their Cougars debut. Morrow is the third and final Coug to hit a home run in game one, being the first to do so as he hit his in the third inning.

After getting just 32 at-bats in 2023, Shibley had a strong start to the new season, doubling twice for two of his three hits. Still, Cramer proved to be the star of the game, falling just a single short of the cycle to start the season with a 2.400 OPS. 

Unsung in the box score, Jacob Kramer got on base three times in the win, despite not getting his first hit of the year. With three walks, he accounted for 60% of the teams free bases in game one. 

Kyle Russell debuted his new approach at the plate with a strong showing, going 2-for-6 with a double and the only stolen base of the game from either side. 

The Cougs will be back in action with a double-header against Utah Tech starting at 11:05 a.m. Saturday in St. George, Utah. In game one, Connor Wilford will take the mound, followed by Spencer Jones to close out the doubleheader.

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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
Julian Caballero is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. He is a junior broadcast production major from Tacoma, Washington. Julian began working for the Daily Evergreen in fall 2022.