Crucial error leads to a Cougar loss against Utah

From staff reports

The WSU baseball team (18-21, 4-12) lost 2-1 in ten innings in the first of a three-game series against Utah (19-17, 9-10) on the road on Thursday.

Redshirt junior left-hander Damon Jones started the morning game for the Cougars and looked to build off an outing against the University of Washington last weekend that Head Coach Marty Lees called his best of the season.

Jones struck out four batters and allowed four hits, two walks and one run during his five innings of work on the mound.

In the second inning, Jones walked Utes junior infielder Wade Gulden, who later stole second base. With Gulden in scoring position, sophomore catcher Zack Moeller was able to take advantage, hitting a ground ball single through the left side of the infield to score Gulden.

The lone run surrendered by Jones was his first run allowed in his last 12 innings, a major improvement from the 31 runs he gave up in his previous 17 and two-thirds innings.

The Utes held the Cougars in check offensively for most of the game until WSU broke through at the top of the ninth.

With one out, junior outfielder J.J. Hancock doubled to left field and freshman infielder Dillon Plew followed with a single up the middle, scoring Hancock to tie the game at one. Junior first baseman James Rudkin singled up the middle and the Cougars threatened to take the lead until junior infielder Shane Matheny flew out and sophomore catcher Cory Meyer struck out to end the threat.

WSU produced just one run on nine hits and five walks while stranding 14 men on base. The Cougars also failed to score after loading the bases in the eighth.

The Cougar bullpen did not allow a hit in its four and two-thirds innings of relief, but walks and errors ultimately cost the team.

In the bottom of the tenth, junior right-hander Ryan Walker walked the first two batters on eight straight pitches. After Walker managed to get the next two batters out, it looked as if he would get out of the inning on a routine fly ball to left. However, sophomore outfielder Justin Harrer failed to locate the ball, which allowed Utah to score the game-winning run.

The Cougars will play their second game of the series today at 10:30 a.m. at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City. The game will be available through Utah’s live stream.

Reporting by Ryan Blake