WSU began their four game road set with a game against Utah Valley, and then travelled around 45 minutes south to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes for three. The Cougars were able to handle the Wolverines of Utah Valley in the mid-season non-conference showdown, and then take two out of three from Utah. WSU moved to 16-11 overall and 4-8 in Pac-12 play.
WSU 5 – 3 Utah Valley
Kyle Manzardo has certainly hit his stride again, which helped back WSU against the Utah Valley Wolverines. He went 2-4 with a two-run home run. Other WSU batters that provided help to the pitching staff were right fielder Collin Montez who also went 2-4 and third baseman Jack Smith who had two RBIs.
After the Cougs were able to put up three in the first inning, the WSU pitching staff held their own, using eight different guys. Freshman RHP Duke Brotherton got the start on the bump, but it was a different Freshman, Tyler Hoeft who earned his first career win. Hoeft went three and a third innings surrendering only one hit, giving up zero runs. Redshirt-junior RHP Will Sierra earned his first career save, getting the last Wolverine batter out with multiple men on base. WSU pitching as a whole: nine strikeouts on two earned runs.
Game 1: WSU 12- 7 Utah
Brandon White bounced back with a victory as the starter, improving to 4-2 on the season. White went six innings, six hits, four runs to go along with six strikeouts, walking four. Three other WSU pitchers were used to help take game one.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings until WSU’s offense began to chip away and take care of Utah in the series-opener. Senior Jack Smith and Freshman Kyle Russell (three RBIs) both had three-hit ballgames. Shortstop Kodie Kolden, first baseman Kyle Manzardo, and designated hitter Tristan Peterson all had two RBIs. WSU was able to score in five straight innings, lasting from the third to the seventh.
Game 2: WSU 7 – 10 Utah
Errors killed WSU in game two. The Cougars had five of them throughout the game, including two in the seventh, where the Utes were able to put up a seven spot on starter Zane Mills. Mills got the nod in game two, where his record dropped to 3-2. He went six and two thirds innings, giving up nine hits, striking out seven and surrendering nine runs, where none of them were earned. In fact, the final run was unearned for Utah as well, so the defensive miscues from WSU really came back to bite them, despite a sold offensive showing.
Center fielder Justin Van De Brake had a two-run home run, designated hitter Tristan Peterson and right fielder Collin Montez both had two-hit games, but once again, it was the defensive errors that hurt the most. One could probably guess that head coach Brian Greene was not all that pleased with his players after game two.
Game 3: WSU 5 – 3 Utah
Dakota Hawkins, Tyler Hoeft, Kodie Kolden, Kyle Manzardo and Collin Montez were the standouts who helped propel WSU to their first road, conference series win of the 2021 season.
Hoeft was the starting pitcher for WSU, and Hawkins did the majority of the relief duties in the finale. Together, those two went seven innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs while striking out four Ute batters. Hawkins got the win, and Caden Kaelber tallied his first save of the season, stranding two Utah base runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth with a game-ending strikeout.
WSU got off to a good start, putting two on the board in the top half of the first. Kolden and Manzardo each tallied two base hits and scored twice. Despite going 0-4 at the dish, Montez had two RBIs. Two Utah errors also helped out the Cougars on offense.
Up Next: WSU (16-11, 4-8) heads back to Pullman, where they will face Gonzaga for a non-conference showdown Tuesday, and then a home, conference series against the Arizona Wildcats next weekend. With fans being admitted at low-capacity, and temperatures in the 70s this upcoming weekend, look for more positive momentum to head WSU’s way after leaving the state of Utah with a 3-1 record.
(Photo via WSU Athletics)