Down and out; WSU baseball struggles against Gonzaga

Rain fell throughout the day in Pullman, and then the floodgates opened at Bailey-Brayton Field on Tuesday night. 

The Gonzaga Bulldogs used an early scoring burst to topple the WSU Cougars by a score of 7-2 in the second of three games the teams will play against each other this season. Senior outfielder Payden Cawley Lamb drove in two runs for the Bulldogs and went 2 for 5 on the night to lead the charge. 

WSU played without Head Coach Donnie Marbut, as he continued to serve a six-game suspension that stemmed from his ejection during Friday’s game against the Oregon Ducks. This was the second game he has missed. 

The pitchers who started the game had very different nights on the mound. That became apparent from the first hitter of the game, who led the Gonzaga onslaught with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. 

The man who threw that wild pitch, redshirt junior Scott Simon, lasted only 1 1/3 innings for the Cougars and gave up four runs in the first inning. 

“We kind of just came out lackadaisical, I thought,” redshirt junior shortstop Trace Tam Sing said. “I think our Oregon series flowed over into this game today, but I think it was just a lack of mental focus and it started with the first inning.”

Junior Sam Triece relieved Simon in the second inning and fared no better. Triece inherited runners at second and third with only one out, and forced sophomore Jimmy Sinatro to hit a weak fly ball toward senior center fielder Collin Slaybaugh. The ball dropped to the ground after it hit Slaybaugh’s glove, allowing a run to score. Freshman Sam Brown followed that with an RBI single to make it 7-0. Triece struck out the next batter, but then Gonzaga loaded the bases and threatened to score again. However, the Bulldogs stranded the bases loaded when sophomore Joey Harris tapped out to the pitcher. All of the runs in the inning were charged to Simon. 

“You kind of dig yourself into a grave at that point, but I feel like for myself, it’s one pitch at a time,” Tam Sing said. “You’ve got to compete, and our team just didn’t really do that today.”

The Bulldogs’ bats quieted down after the first two innings. Junior pitcher Sean Hartnett threw three shutout innings after replacing Triece with nobody out in the third. Despite his efforts, Hartnett received little support from his team’s offense. Senior pitcher Kellen Camus didn’t receive much help either after he entered the game in the sixth inning and continued shutting down the Gonzaga lineup. 

“We weren’t really locked in on the offensive part, and even pitching-wise we weren’t really locked in, so I would just say mental focus was our downfall today,” Tam Sing said.

In the bottom of the third inning, Tam Sing hit a double in the right-center gap and then scored on an RBI single from junior Ian Sagdal. That represented the only action for the Cougars on the scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth. 

In that inning, WSU tallied one more run on an RBI single by redshirt sophomore Nick Tanielu. Those two runs were all the Cougars could push across the plate against junior Will Abram, who went seven innings and allowed five total hits. 

“There’s been a lot of games this year that we haven’t stuck to our plan, and coach puts it out there and sometimes we don’t execute, and that’s happened a lot more than I want it to, and our team wants it to, and our coaches eventually want it to,” Tam Sing said.

The Cougars open a three-game series on Friday against the Washington Huskies.