Cougars look for first sweep since April 2018

Block gets his third 10 strikeout game, second win this season



Junior outfielder Gianni Tomasi swings at the ball against Niagara on Sunday afternoon at Bailey-Brayton Field.

Donovan Blas, Evergreen baseball reporter

WSU baseball got one game closer to a four-game sweep with a 10-4 victory over the Niagara University Purple Eagles on Saturday in Pullman. 

The Cougars (8-6) had a big performance from the plate as they scored 10 runs and 12 hits. 

“We’re just trying to hit line drives and ground balls,” head coach Brian Green said.

Junior third baseman Jack Smith went 4-5 from the plate with two runs and two RBIs. 

“I feel like I’m learning a lot, just knowing what the pitchers going to pitch,” Smith said.

From the mound, senior pitcher AJ Block recorded his third ten strikeout game of the season. He also allowed nine hits, four runs and one walk. 

“He’s doing a great job,” Green said. “He is really pitching well right now. That’s good for him. Two wins in a row for him, I’m really happy for him.”

In the top of the first, WSU started off with a runner on second from a single and balk. Smith hit an RBI single to make the game 1-0.

Sophomore first baseman Kyle Manzardo hit a single and advanced to second on a center field error, putting runners on second and third. Junior right fielder Collin Montez hit an RBI ground out making it 2-0.

After a hit by pitch put runners on first and third, a wild pitch by Purple Eagle freshman pitcher Matthew Wiggins brought in a run making the game 3-0. 

In the top of the second, Niagara (5-7) looked to answer back with runners second and third from a single, walk and wild pitch with two outs. Block stranded the two runners with a strikeout to end the inning.  

In the top of the fourth, Niagara led off with a single. Two consecutive groundouts and a hit by pitch put runners on first and third. The runner on third advanced home after a failed pickoff attempt to first, bringing in the Purple Eagles’ first run on the game. 

The bottom of the fifth led off with a Smith single and a Manzardo double to put runners on second and third. A walk from Montez loaded the bases for WSU. 

Junior left fielder Justin Van De Brake hit an RBI sacrifice fly to make the game 4-1. A throwing error from the third baseman put runners on second and third for WSU. An RBI groundout from freshman second baseman Clifford Preston made the game 5-1. 

In the bottom of the sixth, WSU had a runner on second from a single and error from the shortstop. Smith made the game 6-1 on an RBI single. 

In the top of the seventh, Niagara led off the inning with a double to the right field gap. A single to left field looked to bring in a run, but the relay from WSU beat the runner at home plate.

Another single put a runner on first and second. An RBI double from Niagara made the game 6-2 with runners on second and third.

The Cougars made a pitching change, bringing in junior pitcher Brody Barnum for Block. However, an RBI single from the Purple Eagles made the game 6-4. 

In the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars had runners on first and second from two walks. An error from the catcher brought a run in making it 7-4. 

In the bottom of the eighth, WSU had bases loaded from two singles and a walk. A two RBI single from Tyler Lasch and an error by the left fielder made the game 10-4. 

In the top of the ninth, Niagara had runners on first and second from a walk and hit by pitch with one out. Barnum retired the inning with a strikeout and groundout in a WSU 10-4 win.