Up to Washington and down they went. The Washington State Cougars upset the No. 5 Oregon State Beavers on Friday night behind the second consecutive complete game by junior starting pitcher Joe Pistorese.
The Cougar southpaw allowed one run on four hits, and struck out four. Pistorese gave up his only run in the second inning and then handcuffed the Beavers for the rest of the game.
“Joe is a big-time competitor,” Head Coach Donnie Marbut said. “He shut out California last week in a complete game, and Oregon State is a much better offense. They have some really dangerous guys, and for him to do what he did was just a phenomenal outing.”
All Pistorese could talk about after the game was how well the defense played behind him. Sophomore outfielder had a diving catch in center field in support of the Cougar starter, and the ball found redshirt junior shortstop Trace Tam Sing several times throughout the night as well.
“The way our defense is playing, it’s a lot easier to go late into the game,” Pistorese said. “Hopefully that keeps up and then a lot of our pitchers will be able to have these nights.”
The appreciation goes both ways. The defense enjoys playing behind Pistorese when he toes the mound.
“I love when Joe throws because he’s so fast paced,” Trek Stemp said. “It’s easy to play defense behind a guy who’s so fast paced because there’s not a lot of waiting around. I’m so happy for him to do that, especially against a good team like this.”
Stemp led off the game with a single up the middle, immediately getting to Oregon State senior starter Ben Wetzler. Before the game began, Wetzler had allowed three runs all season. On Friday night against the Cougars, he surrendered four runs on six hits, and lasted only 5 1/3 innings. Only two of the runs were earned as the Beavers committed two costly errors on the night.
Redshirt sophomore Nick Tanielu drove in Stemp with a single, which would not be the only time those two teamed up on the night. It happened again in the Cougars’ big third inning, in which they scored three runs against Wetzler to break the game open. Stemp doubled down the right field line, and senior Collin Slaybaugh moved him over to third on a groundout. Then Tanielu hit a ball toward Wetzler that ricocheted off the pitcher’s leg, which allowed Stemp to score.
Even though the Cougars captured Game 1 in the three-game series against Oregon State, the team does not want to let it affect the way it plays the next game.
“We kind of want to put it in the rear view mirror because tomorrow’s a new game,” Stemp said. “We could be down four runs in the first inning, but we’re excited about it. We’ll probably keep this excitement until about 10 o’clock tonight until we go to sleep and then wake up and it’s going to be a new day.”
When tomorrow begins and the clock strikes 2 p.m., junior Tanner Chleborad will be on the mound for the Cougars to pitch the second game of the series. Oregon State’s Andrew Moore is set to oppose him.