The WSU baseball team (21-16, 7-7) continued their push for an NCAA Regional berth Monday night with a come-from-behind 8-6 win against the Seattle Redhawks (19-17) at Everett Memorial Stadium. The win raised the Cougars record five games over .500 for the first time during the 2012 season.
Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, WSU’s Derek Jones was hit by a pitch. Adam Nelubowich responded by belting a 2-1 offering from Seattle University starter Brett Kizer over the right field fence to give the Cougars a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.
Seattle U kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning after WSU’s Kyle Swannack threw a wild pitch, scoring Seattle U’s Ryan Somers from third base. Still riding the momentum from taking two of three games during the weekend from the No. 6 Oregon Ducks, WSU responded quickly.
With runners on the corners in the top of the second, the Cougars executed a double-steal perfectly when Kyle Johnson broke for second base while Jason Monda waited on third. With the Redhawks middle infield focused on Johnson, Monda broke for home, scoring WSU’s second run of the inning.
Nelubowich tacked on to WSU’s 2-1 lead with a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning. However, Swannack squandered an opportunity to pick up the win by allowing three runs in the bottom of the frame.
After a sac-fly from Trent Oleszczuk, Swannack had a chance to escape the inning leading 3-2. With two outs, Somers quickly erased that possibility by tripling into the right field corner. The line drive scored two Redhawks as Seattle U took a 4-3 lead, chasing Swannack before he could qualify for his fourth win of the season.
In the eighth, WSU provided a pair of insurance runs. Catcher P.J. Jones singled with two outs before Johnson doubled and Patrick Claussen walked to load the bases. Taylor Ard followed with an infield single as Claussen’s speed allowed him to slide safely into second to beat the force out.
The Cougars added another run in the ninth when Ian Sagdal singled in Jones to take an 8-4 advantage. The five runs WSU scored in the last three innings would prove critical.
Seattle U cut their four-run deficit in half in the ninth when the pinch-hitting Michael Tevlin blasted a Kellen Camus (1-1) offering over the right field fence. The blast would end Camus’s night after he worked 2 2/3 inning to pick up his first win of the year. Still with no outs, Head Coach Donnie Marbut opted to bring in Spencer Jackson, who to that point had never earned a collegiate save. The move worked in Marbut’s favor as Jackson retired the three batters he faced to seal the Cougar victory.
Nelubowich led WSU at the plate, collecting two hits while driving in three runs. The designated hitter also blasted his third home run of the season. Jones also had a productive day at the plate. The catcher’s three hits raised his average to .309.
The Cougars will return home to Bailey-Brayton Field this weekend for a three-game conference series against No. 23 Arizona State.