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

Grant Taylor, Nate Swarts lead Cougs to upset win over No. 24 Kentucky

Cougs get huge win over ranked opponent
WSU pitcher Grant Taylor looks to throw a pitch at an NCAA Baseball Game against Santa Clara April 22, 2023. Pullman, Wash.

Nathan Choate has been head coach at WSU for five games and he already has a win over a ranked opponent. 

Continuing the upset-heavy weekend of WSU athletics WSU baseball (4-1) took down No. 24 Kentucky (4-1) behind Grant Taylor’s impressive start on the mound and Nate Swarts’ three RBI at the plate by a score of 6-4. Despite giving up four runs, the Cougs pitching staff limited the Wildcats to two hits. 

Giving up six walks and committing two errors ended up not biting the Cougs too bad, but a cleaner game of baseball makes the score discrepancy a significant one. 

“Proud of our guys, our program. We did not make it easy on ourselves toward the end, but found a way when it mattered to get the W,” Choate said. 

After opening the game with a walk to the Cougs Max Hartman, Kentucky starter Travis Smith retired the side in order to leave the inning unscathed. Opposing him on the Cougs side, Taylor hit a batter after getting to two outs to give the ranked Wildcats a man on and a chance to extend the inning. 

Quickly, Émilien Pitre found the outfield gap for an RBI double. However, he got tagged out trying to extend his hit into a triple, ending the damage there. That was all the damage Taylor endured, that double being the only hit he gave up in his outing. 

“I knew we were going to score runs. If I just kept my team in it, we were gonna have some fun,” Taylor said. 

Taylor’s final line is 6.0 innings, three strikeouts, one hit and two walks, bringing his season ERA down to 4.91 after his 5.0 inning, five earned run opening day start. With a 2-0 record, he is already halfway to his career-high single-season win total of four he had in the 2022 season, but the senior right feels like the same pitcher he’s been over his five years with the Cougs. 

“I’m the same guy. I’m just having fun. I’m enjoying the team camaraderie outside of baseball,” Taylor said. “I think that will translate to competing better because you’re more loose.” 

After three innings of nothing from the offense, the Cougs broke through in top of the fourth. Joey Kramer singled to right-center on a 1-0 count, while Kyle Russell followed him up with a single of his own. With first and second and nobody out, Cole Cramer grounded into a fielder’s choice but Swarts picked up the slack with a two-RBI triple to deep left-center. 

Hartman drove in Swarts to tack on a run to give the Cougs a 3-1 lead, a lead they never looked back on.

In the eighth inning, two bases-loaded walks gave WSU two vital insurance runs that proved the difference in the win, one of those walks being drawn by Swarts to give him his third and final RBI of the game. 

Swarts and Hartman were the two Cougs with multi-hit games, Swarts finishing 2-for-2 with a walk and Hartman finishing 2-for-4 with a walk as well. 

After an electric opening series, Alan Shibley remained quiet in the win, going 1-for-5 with a strikeout but maintaining a season batting average of .409 and keeping his now five-game hit streak alive. 

Getting the final six outs is never easy, especially against a good program. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Kentucky got two men on by way of a walk and hit by pitch. Then, WSU brought in Chase Grillo to close the deal.

Despite giving up a sacrifice fly for the final Kentucky run of the game, Grillo got the final five outs while striking out two to get a 1.2-inning save, his first of the season. While it’s his first of 2024, it’s career save No. 10, good for a tie for tenth all-time at WSU.  

The Cougs are back in action in the morning as at 10 a.m. they take on Kansas to continue the Round Rock Classic.

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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.