Cougars Win Opener, Lose Series to 16th-Ranked Bruins

It’s tough seeing so many consecutive powerhouse baseball schools in a row, and unfortunately, that is what the Cougars have seen recently. WSU faced No. 16 UCLA this weekend at Bailey-Brayton Field, where the Cougs took game one, but dropped the following two against the Bruins. WSU now sits at 23-19 overall and 10-14 in conference play. Recap of all three games over this graduation and Mother’s Day weekend down below!

Game 1: WSU 5 – 2 UCLA

A late rally helped WSU steal game one from the Bruins. On a somewhat chilly night in Pullman, the Cougars were able to break a 2-2 tie in the eight with a three-run inning.

Let’s not forget about WSU starter Brandon White on Friday. He was strong in the opener, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two earned on three strikeouts. UCLA got their two runs on a two-run homerun by the nine-hole hitter. The bullpen was exceptional after White’s exit, consisting of 2+ innings of Michael Newstrom and Connor Barison. Both pitchers went 1 1/3 innings, not surrendering a hit. Newstrom stuck out two, and Barison struck out four, recording every out as a strikeout and earning himself the win.

It was 0-0 all the way up until the top of the fifth inning, where UCLA picked up two. In the next inning, WSU designated hitter Tristan Peterson was able to hit a two-run homer to tie it. It was Peterson’s fourth consecutive game with a home run. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, WSU was able to make things happen not only with the bats, but the eyes as well. The bases became loaded with Cougars all via three base on balls. A wild pitch and a timely two-run single by Collin Montez were the game-changing events that happened in the bottom of the eighth.

Game 2: WSU 6 – 7 UCLA

A heartbreaker in the middle game. WSU had a two-run lead going into the top of the ninth, but it was all for not after UCLA was able to come back and put up three, and eventually win the contest.

Cougar ace Zane Mills was the starter Saturday. He went 4 1/3 innings of eight-hit, three-run ball, striking out three Bruin batters. It was a big bullpen day for WSU. Out of the seven different relievers used, only one went more than a full inning. Will Sierra was given the loss in game two, where he gave up two earned on three hits in the top of the ninth. Four WSU defensive errors also didn’t help.

The Cougars were down 3-1 going into the fourth where junior first baseman Kyle Manzardo went yard for a three-run homer, giving the Cougs the lead. It was his team-leading 11th home run on the year, and it also happened to be 444 feet. Jake Meyer also found his stride in game two. Meyer went 2-3 with two doubles, including one in the bottom of the eighth which at the time, put WSU up two on UCLA. Unfortunately, after the Bruins scored three in the ninth, WSU had no response offensively.

Game 3: WSU 7 – 16 UCLA

An eventful, neck-and-neck first few innings led to a UCLA blowout in the series finale.

Ethan Ross was the finale starter. He was not able to surpass two innings, where he gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and three walks. It was, however, tied 4-4 when he exited. Brody Barnum was tagged with the loss Sunday, where he gave up two runs in the third, and UCLA did not stop rolling after Barnum’s day was done. The Bruins rattled off 16 runs on 16 hits in the contest. Three WSU defensive errors also played a large factor in the Cougar’s second consecutive loss

Despite losing the game, the offense was there for the Cougars. Tristan Peterson was able to homer for the fifth time in six games. Third baseman Jack Smith had two hits. Jacob McKeon (1-3, double) and Nate Swarts (1-3, single) had multiple RBI games.

Up Next: WSU (23-19, 10-14) will face the Portland Pilots for the second time this year on Tuesday, May 11th at home. After the non-conference game on Tuesday, the Cougars hit the road to SoCal, facing off with USC for three games next weekend (5/14-16).

(Photo via WSU Athletics)

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