WSU pitching continues to struggle


Redshirt junior outfielder Dugan Shirer slides into third base in a game against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 25 at Bailey-Brayton Field.

From staff reports

The WSU baseball team dropped the final game of its four-game road trip Monday afternoon, falling 14-8 to the University of the Pacific.

The Cougars could not survive the offensive onslaught from the Tigers. The WSU pitching staff, which has given up 27 runs in its last three games, continued the downward trend.

WSU jumped to an early lead in the top of the first inning, with the top of the order manufacturing a run. Two walks and a fielder’s choice moved sophomore shortstop Andres Alvarez to third, and a sacrifice fly from sophomore left fielder Justin Harrer gave the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.

The Tigers struck back in the bottom half of the inning after Pacific freshman catcher/infielder James Free II launched a solo home run over the centerfield fence on a 3-2 pitch.

Pacific took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the third when a double to center field scored Pacific sophomore infielder Kevin Sandri. The Tigers would tack on two more runs later in the inning, giving Pacific a comfortable 4-1 lead.

WSU freshman left-hander A.J. Block (0-1, 2.87) was pulled after the first three innings of work. The Bellevue native gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk, making Monday afternoon his worst outing of the season.

After Pacific pushed its lead to four runs through four innings, the Cougars struck back in the top of the fifth.

WSU’s offense exploded for five runs in the inning, thanks to a grand slam from Harrer and a solo home run from junior right fielder J.J. Hancock. Hancock and Harrer remain tied for the team lead in home runs after the weekend.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, shoddy pitching got the better of them Monday afternoon. Immediately after taking a 6-5 lead in the top of the inning, junior closer Scotty Sunitsch surrendered four runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning, and WSU found itself back in the hole. Sunitsch would take the statistical loss on the day.

The Tigers put up three more runs in the seventh inning, which would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the Cougars. Two late runs in the seventh and eighth inning would not be enough for WSU to overcome a 14-run offensive clinic by Pacific.

The Cougars, (1-4) in conference play, will return home this week riding a four-game losing streak to take on the 2016 College World Series Runner-Up No. 9 Arizona.

The series with No. 9 Arizona kicks off at 5 p.m. on Friday at Bailey-Brayton Field.

Reporting by Nick Thomas