Cougar baseball can’t dig out of early-season hole

An ugly beginning turned into a heart-wrenching ending for the WSU Cougars on Tuesday night against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In the first inning, WSU fell behind 4-0 on an RBI single, a sacrifice fly, and a two-run home run off of starter Kellen Camus.

The Cougars had to go the bullpen with only one out in the first inning, but relievers Sean Hartnett and Sam Triece allowed a total of five hits over seven combined shutout innings. During that time, the Cougars were able to rally back into the game with a run in the top of the second inning, two more in the fourth, and one again in the fifth.

However, the comeback was not enough. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bulldogs scored the winning run in a wild turn of events. Sophomore Caleb Wood led off with a double and advanced to second on an intentional walk of senior Payden Cawley Lamb. Then the two runners moved up on a wild pitch. After hitter Jimmy Sinatro struck out, Wood ran home on another wild pitch during the next at-bat. The Bulldogs won the game 5-4. Consequently, they captured the season series by taking two games out of three against the Cougars.

The Cougars played extra baseball in their first game against the Utah Utes over the weekend. Cougar starter Joe Pistorese pitched nine innings and struck out nine batters, but WSU could not capitalize on his quality start, losing in 13 innings. The game was knotted at 1-1 heading into the top of the 13th inning, and the Utes pushed three runs across the plate to take the lead and to ultimately win the game, 4-1.

In the second game of the series, the advantage shifted toward WSU with a seven-inning start from senior Jason Monda, who limited the Utes to two runs during that span. The Cougars won that game 4-2 and were helped by three Utah errors.

WSU wrapped up the series with a tight 1-0 victory that was made possible by a superb outing from junior Tanner Chleborad. The starter delivered eight shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out 10. Senior Michael Monda drove in the lone Cougar run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The Cougars will play the Stanford Cardinals for a three-game series in California on Friday.