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Swept by Stanford, WSU’s road woes continue

Not a great start to the conference season.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAR 26 Washington State at Stanford Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Washington State Cougars baseball team was swept by the #24 Stanford Cardinal in Stanford over the weekend, extending WSU’s (9-15, 1-8 in Pac-12) losing streak in conference to six straight. Stanford (12-8, 4-5) outscored WSU 23-11 with a 12-inning walk-off win to kick the series off.

Game 1: Stanford 8, WSU 7 (12 innings)

Aided by a wild pitch and a throwing error from Grant Taylor in the bottom of the 1st, Stanford opened the weekend with a quick 2-0 lead in the first frame. WSU loaded the bases in the top half of the second with two outs and cashed in on a Kodie Kolden double to right to tie the game up at two a piece. The bats finally got it going from there. Elijah Hainline reloaded the bases after winning an eight-pitch battle, drawing a walk, and Jack Smith handed WSU its first lead of the day with a base hit back up the middle to score Kolden and Will Cresswell. Stanford’s Director of Baseball David Esquer had seen enough and quickly turned to the bullpen, bringing in right-hander Joey Dixon to face Bryce Matthews. Matthews worked a 3-1 count and demolished a fastball left right over the heart of the plate to give the Cougars a 7-2 lead in just the second inning.

Stanford pushed one more run across in the third off of Taylor, who worked through six innings, striking out six and walking three, before handing the ball over to the bullpen at 106 pitches. On in relief, Cam Liss struck out the first two batters he saw, but an error in right field from Nate Swarts, allowed Carter Graham to reach third and score on a passed ball. A Brock Jones walk ended Liss’s night after 0.2 innings as Brian Green turned to Connor Barison to avoid any further damage. On a 2-2 count, Barison gave up a triple to left center to Brett Barrera to pull Stanford within two at 7-5. Barison stranded Barrera at third with a strikeout.

Barison worked into the ninth with a two-run lead, but immediately gave up back-to-back singles, handing the ball to Chase Grillo with runs on the corners and no outs. Grillo struck out Jones on three pitches for the first out, then allowed pinch-runner Joe Lomuscio to advance to second on a wild pitch. With two runners in scoring position, Barrera rolled into a ground ball out, but it was enough to score Eddie Park from third. Drew Bowser digged in with two-outs and the game-tying run on second. Down to his last strike, Park ripped a game-tying RBI single into left to force extra innings, tied at seven.

Stanford threatened in the 10th, putting the winning-run just 90 feet away but Caden Kaelber got Lomuscio swinging with two outs to bring an end to the Stanford threat. The Cougs put together their own threat in the 11th, loading the bases with two outs for Justin Van De Brake. Van De Brake couldn’t come through, rolling into a 6-4 putout to end the inning. The Cougars again pushed Stanford to the edge in the 12th with Kyler Stancato reaching second on an error to lead off the inning. After back-to-back K’s, Stancato was able to steal third but was left stranded there with Hainline striking out to end the inning. Stanford put the winning run in scoring position with a sac-bunt to kick off the 12th. After a strikeout, the Cougs then intentionally walked Park to set up the force out at any base with two outs. Kaelber then plunked Lomuscio on an 0-1 count to load the bases. Green handed the ball to Will Sierra with the game on the line. Sierra couldn’t find the strike zone even once, walking in the winning run on four pitches to give Stanford the series opener after rattling over six unanswered runs.

Game 2: Stanford 7, WSU 1

The Cougar bats remained cold throughout the second game. Stanford scored a run in each of the first two innings while WSU couldn’t muster up more than one hit till the fifth inning. Following WSU’s second hit of the game in the top of the fifth, Cougs’ skipper Brian Green was tossed from the game for arguing a foul-tip call.

A throwing error at second from catcher Jake Meyer on a stolen base attempt allowed Stanford to score another run in the bottom half of the fifth and later made it a 5-0 game with a two-out two-run-homer in the sixth. Cole McMillan gave up his second two-run-homer of the game in the seventh that would end his day after 6.1 innings, giving up seven earned and nine hits to the Cardinal.

WSU narrowly avoided a shutout with Kolden singling to left with the Cougars down to there last strike to score Jacob McKeon.

Game 3: Stanford 8, WSU 3

McKabe Cottrell toed the rubber against Drew Dowd in the final game on the series. WSU jumped on Dowd early as Smith laced a single into left field in the third to score Kolden, giving WSU the early 1-0 lead. The Cougs took advantage of an error in the fourth with Stanford’s third baseman, Bowser, tried to gun down Swarts at first on a bunt-attempt. Bowser’s throw sailed over the first baseman’s head, pushing Swarts to second and allowing Montez to score all the way from first.

Prior to the fifth inning, Cottrell had costed so far, allowing only three Cardinal hits through four. Stanford picked up their first run, unearned, after a throwing error from Hainline scored Braden Montgomery from first. With two outs, Cottrell lost all command of the zone. He walked the next three batters in a row and allowed two to score on two wild pitches. Elias Farland entered to close the flood gates but Stanford broke the game wide open with a pair of singles and a three-run home run catcher Kody Huff to put Stanford out in front, 8-2.

Colin Montez got one back in the sixth with an RBI double but the Cougs went down pretty quietly after that, never putting two base runners on in the seventh-ninth.

The Cougars followed up the sweep with a non-conference loss to BYU on Tuesday; they’ll look to rebound by returning to Bailey-Brayton for the first time in a couple of weeks to take on the Utah Utes for a three-game set this weekend.