The WSU baseball team padded their postseason resume this weekend with a series win over the No. 6 ranked Oregon Ducks. The Cougars dropped the series opener on Friday 6-2, only to bounce back and win the Saturday and Sunday games 8-3 and 10-6, respectively.
The Cougar win (20-16, 7-7) comes after a Tuesday loss at Gonzaga last week. The team hopes to carry the momentum from the weekend Oregon (27-12, 11-7) series win into a Monday matchup with Seattle (18-16).
The Cougars never led in the Friday series opener — after jumping out to an early 2-0 run in the bottom of the first, the Ducks tacked on three more in the fourth and one more in the eighth.
“We didn’t finish off hitters and didn’t get a big hit when we had opportunities,” WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut said in a press release. “Give credit to Oregon for scoring most of its runs with two outs.”
WSU's scheduled-starter J.D. Leckenby was injured pregame and never threw a pitch. The Cougars instead went with freshman righty Sean Hartnett for the start.
Hartnett only went three and two thirds innings for WSU, allowing five runs on six hits with one strikeout and no walks before turning it over to the bullpen. Three Cougars relievers combined for four and one thirds innings of one-run ball.
The Cougs bounced back on Saturday with an 8-3 come-from-behind victory to even the series 1-1 behind a strong start from freshman Joe Pistorese and a good offensive performance late in the game.
“Joe (Pistorese) was solid for us and our bullpen gave us a good outing,” Marbut said in a press release. “Offensively, we got some big hits in the eighth inning.”
The Cougs trailed 3-2 heading into the eighth inning, after having previously given up a 2-0 lead in the third inning. The six-run rally in the eighth to eventually win the game was led by RBI from Adam Nelubowich, Collin Slaybaugh and Ian Sagdal.
Each pitching an inning of relief for WSU in the win was Kellen Camus, Spencer Jackson, Scott Simon and Anthony Drobnick.
To cap off the series win against Oregon, the Cougars took game three on Sunday in a 10-6 victory that was not as close as the score would indicate.
Freshman starter Tanner Chleborad went five and two thirds innings for WSU, allowing two earned runs on only five hits with three strikeouts while issuing four walks.
The Cougar victory was driven by a huge day at the plate from redshirt junior first baseman Taylor Ard, who went 3-5 with two HR, five RBI and three runs. The first of Ard’s home runs came in the first, where his three-run blast put the Cougars on the board early, a lead they would never surrender.
Also recording multiple hits for WSU in the series finale was Kyle Johnson (2-4, 3 R), Derek Jones (2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) and Patrick Claussen (3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI).
WSU entered the bottom of the ninth leading Oregon 10-3 and spotted the Ducks three runs before Cougar closer Anthony Drobnick came in to shut the door and seal the victory.
Next up for WSU is a single game series at Seattle on Monday at 6:30 p.m. before returning to Pullman for a six-game homestand spanning two weekends.