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

Baseball plays home opener Friday against Rhode Island

Cougs bring 5-3 record to first home weekend
Kyle Russell looks ahead of at bat against Stanford, May 19.

After a strong start to the WSU baseball (5-3) season, the program is set to play their first home series of the 2024 season against Rhode Island (1-5) to start a seven-game homestand. The Rams are riding low on a five-game losing streak while the Cougs took No. 5 TCU to 12 innings Tuesday, although, they too, are losers of two straight.

WSU started the season with a series win over Utah Tech, then they won the Karbach Round Rock Classic with a 2-1 record before ending their early season road trip with a loss to the aforementioned Horned Frogs.

“It’s been a good road trip so far. The guys are playing well,” head coach Nathan Choate said.

Rhode Island won their first game of the season 4-3 in 11 innings over University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. UTRGV won the next two games to win the series and then the Rams got swept by Virginia Tech while being outscored 39-7.

Rhode Island is hitting .201 with a measly .546 OPS. Pitching has not been much better, as a whole they are sporting a 10.59 ERA.

On the contrary, WSU is hitting a perfect 10% better, sporting a .301 batting average and .899 OPS. Of qualified batters, four Cougs have an OPS above 1.000 and five players already have double-digit hits over the first eight games.

Kyle Russell hit a first-pitch HR against TCU and he has started the season on a tear, posting what would be career numbers over a full season. Slashing .290/.389/.452 for a .841 OPS with three extra-base hits, his offseason change in approach has shown to work early on.

Coming off a Tournament MVP honor from the Round Rock Classic, Joey Kramer has begun turning around a slow start with two extra-base hits and five RBI over the last three games including the go-ahead home run to complete that comeback against Kansas.

“Our identity is that we want to tap in. We want to fight,” Kramer said.

Back on the bump, the team has a 5.70 ERA, led by starting pitcher Connor Wilfords’ 3.00 mark and Chase Grillo’s dominant 1.29 ERA over 7.0 innings of work.

Wilford will pitch the first game Saturday with senior righty Grant Taylor getting the Friday night nod for the third consecutive weekend. Spencer Jones and Duke Brotherton will round out the weekend, getting the second start of Saturday’s doubleheader and Sunday’s game, respectively.

WSU and Rhode Island have never played before, sporting a clean slate for Choate’s team to work with.

While they’ve had a better start to their season than the Rams have, the team knows the valuable lesson of chaos of baseball through their time playing and specifically the Round Rock Classic.

“Our guys know that the game is never over. Baseball is a little different because you can’t sit on the ball and watch the clock run out,” Choate said. “Our guys have done a great job of treating each other with respect, daily.”

The Cougs start the series at 4:05 p.m. Friday. At 12:05 Saturday the first pitch of the first game of a doubleheader will be thrown and finally, at 1:05 Sunday, the two programs will close out the series. All games will be played at Bailey-Brayton Field and be streamed on the WSU Live Stream.

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About the Contributor
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.