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 flushing recent failure; prep for Cal

WSU-Cal to play three games
The 2024 WSU baseball team, March 3, in Pullman, Wash.

After taking a tough loss Tuesday, WSU is back at Bailey-Brayton Field to take on Cal for a three-game weekend set. The Cougs are just 2-5 in their latest stretch and 1-4 against Pac-12 schools. 

WSU (17-14, 7-8 Pac-12) is set to take on a Cal (17-14, 5-10) team riding a seven-game losing streak in Conference action. Swept by Arizona and Arizona State, the Golden Bears have only won a single Pac-12 series, a sweep of UCLA at the start of the year.

Despite the overall 5-10 Pac-12 record, the sweep of the Bruins makes the Golden Bears a worthy opponent. WSU faced UCLA in a three-game set on the road early in the season, winning once but dropping two games in Los Angeles. 

Last season, the two programs had a back-and-forth affair, both teams winning three games and winning a series on the road. An offensive shootout, the two teams combined to individually score at least five runs on seven occasions during the six games. 

Since 2000, Cal has held a slight advantage in head-to-head action, winning 39 of the 67 matchups. While the Cougs have losing records both at home and on the road, their 14-15 record at Bailey-Brayton since the turn of the century. 

In the 15 games in Pac-12 play, the Cougs offensive has stuttered. Teamwide, the OPS has dropped significantly, with the team now having just a .709 OPS. Joey Kramer, Nate Swarts and Logan Johnstone are the only three players with a mark above .800, with neither Swarts or Johnstone being everyday players in part due to injury. 

Injuries have been a difference maker at points this season, with both Swarts and Kyle Russell missing time to rehab, altering the defensive and lineup dynamics in the process.

“Kyle’s a big piece. Once he’s gone, then you realize what kind of piece is gone,” infielder Crew Parke said. “All of our guys can field a baseball at this level, it’s more the little talk things, the backing up, things that go unnoticed to the outside world.” 

On the other side, Cal has a Pac-12 OPS of .831, with five everyday players and seven players total sporting a mark above .800.

Pitching wise, Grant Taylor has made his mark. With five starts, he’s thrown 31.1 innings and has a minuscule ERA of 2.87. His strikeouts are up, he’s walked just 14 batters and he has allowed just a single home run.

Taylor’s run has been dominant, highlighted by his 17-strikeout, one-hit shutout of the Washington Huskies in Seattle. 

Making six appearances and tossing 9.1 innings, Kaden Wickersham has been one of the more dominant arms out of the WSU bullpen. Not an overpowering arm who is striking out every batter he’s faced, he has forced soft contact and allowed just seven hits and has an ERA of just 1.93.

Cal is a team carried by their bullpen with Tyler Stasiowski being the go-to guy. Stasiowski has played in seven games, throwing 12.2 innings with a WHIP of just 0.74. 

“We still control our own destiny, if you will,” head coach Nathan Choate said. “I want us playing our best baseball at the end of the year.”

The Cougs and Golden Bears start their three-game series at 6 p.m. Friday in Pullman, with games two and three being played Saturday and Sunday, respectively. 

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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.