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

Wilford wows as Cougars split Saturday doubleheader with Utah Tech

WSU wins first game 8-6, loses second game 7-4
Connor+Wilford+exits+the+game+in+the+2nd+inning+against+Stanford%2C+May+20%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.
BRANDON WILLMAN
Connor Wilford exits the game in the 2nd inning against Stanford, May 20, in Pullman, Wash.

Right-handed senior pitcher Connor Wilford provided a glimpse of what an offseason of work and a pitching-minded head coach can do for a college baseball player.

In his first 2024 start, the Cougars’ number-two starter pitched a career-high six innings and matched his career-single-game high with six strikeouts.

The Cougar offense continued to impress with three home runs and 11 hits. Utah Tech rallied late, but the Cougars secured the final out to put out the fire and win 8-6.

WSU baseball (3-1) was not as successful in the second game as the offense scored four runs on eight hits and Utah Tech generated an efficient seven runs on seven hits. WSU lost its second game of the day 7-4.

Wilford was primarily a reliever in 2023, but made two starts, including in the final series of the year versus Stanford.

In his 2024 debut, Wilford pitched six shutout innings, allowed one hit and struck out six while walking one.

“Been throwing the curveball more, but we’ve really just been mixing it down and trying to attack the zone,” Wilford said.

The Cougar offense was held scoreless for the first three frames before making a slew of contact in the fourth.

The Kramer with a K versus Cramer with a C spelling debate is at a standstill based on the Cougars’ fourth inning.

Joey Kramer, the senior transfer first baseman from California State University, Northridge homered in the fourth to give the Cougs a 1-0 lead.

Cole Cramer, the junior transfer from Linn-Benton Community College in Oregon and Arlington High School, followed up Kramer’s solo shot with an RBI double to score Will Creswell from first.

With a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, Wilford pitched into a fielder’s choice to erase the Trailblazers’ two-runner threat.

Wilford expressed his appreciation for Wazzu’s early offense.

“Yeah, they compete, pitching with the lead is my favorite,” Wilford said.

Redshirt junior outfielder Alan Shibley homered in both games Saturday to start the year with three straight home runs.

His first-game homer and second of the year put the Cougs up 3-0. Wilford, with a lead, provided two spotless frames to close his career day.

The Cougar bullpen took over in the seventh. Tumwater native Ryan Orr cruised through the seventh and eighth innings with no runs and no hits. He walked three but struck out two in his 2024 debut.

WSU’s eighth inning was a stunning display of the Cougars’ offense. Fifth-year senior outfielder Nate Swarts sent his first home run of the year sailing off the scoreboard in left-center field. Shibley sent two home with a double and senior shortstop Kyle Russell smacked a double down the third-base line to score Shibley and give Wazzu an 8-0 lead.

Liam Miller got off to a rocky start to the 2024 season. He allowed each of Utah Tech’s six runs in the ninth inning. He snagged two outs and did not walk anyone but posted a final line of 0.2 innings pitched, 6 runs, 6 hits, 0 BB and 1 K.

With a shrinking lead, sophomore right-handed pitcher Jacob Gabler entered the game and secured the final out of WSU’s second win in as many games.

WSU’s third game of the season and second of the day was not as favorable.

Senior catcher Jacob Morrow gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead with a first-inning two-RBI single.

Utah Tech returned the favor with a two-run home run to knot it up at 2-2 after one.

Shilbey hit his third home run in as many games giving the Cougs a 3-2 lead.

Utah Tech rallied for a 5-0 run over five innings.

Each of WSU’s three pitchers allowed at least one run.

Senior starter Spencer Jones pitched 5.1 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) with four strikeouts and two walks. Junior Kaden Wickersham pitched 1.1 innings and hit one hitter with a pitch.

The runner advanced on consecutive fielder’s choice and scored on senior Chase Grillo’s wild pitch. Grillo allowed another run to score with a line of 1.1 innings pitched, one run allowed on two hits, a wild pitch and two strikeouts and no walks.

Centralia College transfer junior Casen Taggart attempted to spark a Cougar rally with an RBI single.

Utah Tech pitcher Ryan Hardman locked the Cougars down with one final groundout to log four one-run innings with five strikeouts.

WSU bested Utah Tech Sunday with a 5-1 win to take the opening series of the head coach Nathan Choate-era three games out of four.

WSU travels to Round Rock, Texas to challenge Kentucky, Kansas and Texas State, beginning Friday.

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
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.