Sophomore pinch-hitter Patrick Claussen came through in the clutch, singling to center in the bottom of the ninth to give WSU a 6-5 victory over top-ranked Arizona State. He scored Matt Argyropoulos, who led off the inning with a double and was advanced to third on a bunt.
The game had been knotted at 5 since the seventh when Gary Kuykendall's triple tied the game up and gave the Cougs a shot at a marquee home victory.
After a disappointing stretch for WSU - including dropping four of the last five games, and two out of three to the hated Huskies - it's just what the doctor ordered.
Now, some thoughts. Bullet points, please:
- I know he gave up five runs, but I was really impressed with Chad Arnold. He pitched all the way into the seventh in this one, which obviously wasn't enough to earn a win, but enough to keep the Cougs in it against a potent offense. If not for the MacPhee home run he would've had a very solid night. He doesn't walk a lot of batters and he seems to have good command of his pitches.
- Paris Shewey and Adam Conley were also solid in relief. More on Conley later...
- I'm really surprised the Cougars haven't been putting up more runs on the board in the last few games, because this seems like a solid offense from top to bottom. Kuykendall and Argyropoulos (Good God can we please get some players with easier names to spell?) were the stars tonight, but there really isn't any guy that gave me the thought, "Man, he can't hit". The biggest issue for the Cougar bats seems to be making good contact on pitches in the strike zone. There were way to many strikeouts for my liking.
- There were a few defensive miscues on both sides, but I'll write that off since it's college baseball and these guys aren't exactly pros. The Cougs turned a couple nice double plays.
- Adam Conley nearly gave up a home run in the top of the ninth, but bounced back nicely with a huge strikeout that stranded a Sun Devil baserunner on third. That was the play of the night...
- ...Until Claussen game up and fired a ground ball sharply up the middle to win it. It was a great piece of clutch hitting, especially from someone who had been sitting the whole game and had his first at bat in sub-40 degree weather against a new pitcher.
- I was a little disappointed by the attendance, given the rank of the opponent and the fact it's Mom's weekend here in Pullman. It was probably under 1,000 - and part of me was expecting a full stadium. It probably didn't help that it was about 50 degrees at the start of the game and below 40 by the end, with some wind from time to time.
- It was fun, though, to watch the team's post-game celebration. This meant a lot to them. I also enjoyed - for the first time in my seven years here - watching the Cougs defeat a number one ranked team.
- Two more games in the series this weekend, so come out and support the Cougs. They deserve it.