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

Cougar baseball drops Senior Day rubber match to USC, 10-3

Russell caps 8-for-15 weekend with RBI double
Kyle Russell lasers a ball toward the left side of the infield for a lineout, March 3, in Pullman, Wash.

The Mothers of WSU baseball’s senior class threw out the ceremonial first pitches, senior Elias Farland shredded the National Anthem on the guitar and WSU recognized its 16-player senior class on a bright Mother’s and Senior Day in Pullman.

Despite the immaculate pregame vibes, WSU baseball (21-29, 9-18 Pac-12) lost the rubber match to USC (24-27, 14-12) 10-3 Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field.

In his final start in Pullman, senior Duke Brotherton took the mound and struggled early, allowing five runs in the first three innings, settling in for two scoreless, before a disastrous sixth inning.

The Cougar bats did not do much to help, putting the ball into play, but never managing to string more than two hits together in a single inning.

Senior shortstop Kyle Russell of University Place, Washington, observed his final game in Pullman after four years on the Palouse with a 3-for-5, two RBI-double day. Russell did his part, but only five other Cougs managed a hit.

Brotherton swiftly secured two outs in the first thanks to first pitch strikes and a sliding grab from leftfielder Casen Taggart.

With two outs in the first, Brotherton hit Kevin Takeuchi with a pitch and the Trojans opened the floodgates. Austin Overn got aboard with a single and stole second. In trying to catch Overn, WSU catcher Jacob Morrow’s throw bounced off of second baseman Crew Parke’s glove as the ball dribbled into the outfield. 

Takeuchi scored on the throwing error and Overn scored on Ethan Hedges’ single to put USC up 2-0 before the Cougs even came up to bat.

USC added two runs on three more hits in the second inning and Overn doubled and scored again on a Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek RBI single in the third.

Down 5-0, the Cougs unveiled the home-field advantage of the Palouse. Parke hit the ball hard out to right field that wound its way out of the right fielder’s reach thanks to a strong gust of wind. Max Hartman drew his second walk of the day and Russell, who grounded out into a double play in the first, let his barrel lose, finding the green for a two-RBI double.

In the fourth, Brotherton hit his grove thanks to a heads-up Morrow pick-off that caught USC’s lead-off runner trying to steal. Brotherton struck out USC’s top hitter, Ryan Jackson, looking and delivered his lone 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, dispatching USC’s two, three and four hitters.

In the sixth inning, Brotherton hit two Trojan hitters and Connor Clift, USC nine-hole hitter, took a hung pitch from Brotherton over the left-center fence for his first home run of the season.

USC led 8-2.

Brotherton’s career-high 5.2 innings were spoiled by Clift’s home run as the Trojans managed eight runs on eight hits. Each of the three runners Brotherton hit came around to score.

Joey Kramer responded with a double in the bottom of the sixth and crossed home thanks to Morrow’s RBI single. That would be all WSU’s offense could manage.

Senior Spencer Jones entered the game and got the Cougs out of the sixth and through two outs in the seventh. Jones handed the ball to fellow senior Jack Lee who struck out Chris Brown to end the inning.

Kaden Wickersham ran into trouble in the eighth, walking three and allowing two runs. 

With his team trailing 10-3, senior Kevin Haynes, fresh off 1.1 scoreless innings the night before, pitched another clean ninth.

USC’s pitching staff had two Washington-born sons who dealt on Mother’s Day to keep the Trojans on top.

Starter William Watson of Bow, Washington allowed three runs over 5.1 innings. He struck out three and walked four, but did enough to earn his third win.

Mario Edwards struck out two to finish the sixth inning and USC turned to Seattle-born Jared Feikes. Feikes got hit around by the Cougs Friday night, allowing six runs without managing an out. Feikes was far more efficient Sunday, plowing through 2.0 scoreless innings.

After the game, Feikes gave his mom flowers, as the Feikes family had made their way to Pullman from Seattle.

Flame-throwing Josh Blum topped out at 95 MPH and faced four batters in the ninth.

He struck out Parke and Hartman, but Russell did not go so quietly. In his final at-bat of a four-year Bailey-Brayton Field career, Russell barreled one through a gap in the infield to get aboard.

However, Cole Cramer grounded out to make it official as the Cougs lost the game and the series to USC.

Head coach Nathan Choate was absent all weekend because of non-life-threatening emergency surgery. WSU did not provide a timeline for his return.

The Cougs head to Eugene, Oregon for the regular season finale. At 9-17, they trail the UW Huskies (10-17 Pac-12) by 0.5 games.

Wazzu needs to leapfrog UW if it wants a spot in what would be their first (and last traditional) Pac-12 baseball tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Ducks (34-16, 16-11) are fourth in the conference, making next weekend’s road trip a tall task.

WSU will visit Oregon for a three-game series beginning at 6:05 p.m. Thursday.

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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.