Washington State baseball seems to have a knack for finding success against highly ranked squads. Entering Tuesday, the Cougs had a 5-8 record against teams in the top-15 of the college baseball rankings and an 11-14 record against everyone else.
On Tuesday, they went back to that well one more time, hanging on knock off the 11th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs 6-5. WSU fell behind 2-0 early and eventually trailed 3-2 in the 5th, but kept grinding away to pick up the victory at home.
Offense was the star of the show for Washington State. The Cougars posted 11 hits, including multi-hit nights from four starters. Elijah Hainline led the way, going 2 for 5 with 3 RBI, including a 2-run double in the 5th inning to put WSU on top for the first time. The Zags would tie things back up in the 7th, but Hainline would deliver again in the bottom of the frame with an RBI single. It was a similar story in the 8th with GU scoring one more in the top of the inning, and WSU going back on top on a Jacob McKeon RBI single.
On the mound, it was a committee effort for the Cougs. Cooper Barnum got the start, but got the hook in the 2nd. He gave up a hit and walked two, allowing a pair of unearned runs on his way to a no decision. From there, four more arms would get the call from the bullpen, capped off by a nice performance from Caden Kaelber. The righty went 2.2 innings, allowing 6 hits, but worked his way out of a few jams allowing just a single run on his way to his 2nd win of the season.
One of those jams for Kaelber came in the 9th. Trailing 6-5, the Zags put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. Kaelber got Gonzaga’s Shea Kramer to hit a ground ball to short. WSU shortstop Kodie Kolden tried to start the game-ending double play, but Kramer beat out the throw at first to extend the game — and push the tying run to third base. Luckily for the Cougs, Kaelber got the next batter to fly out to end the game and seal the 6-5 victory for WSU.
The Cougars have now won three-in-a-row, with all of the victories coming against top-15 competition. Next up, the Cougs will continue their seven game homestand when they welcome USC into Pullman for a weekend series. First pitch in game one against the Trojans is set for 6 p.m. on Friday night with TV coverage on the Pac-12 Network.
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