WSU (7-5) joined fellow competitors Texas A&M Aggies (7-4), Witchita State Shockers (5-7), and Iowa Hawkeyes (6-5) in the weekend-long series, playing each team once, beginning with the Aggies on Friday.
Game 1: WSU 11, Texas A&M 6
Grant Taylor got the nod for the weekend opener and got into a rhythm early on, striking out four of the first seven batters he faced. WSU gave Taylor some early run support in the second inning, loading the bases for a two-out Hylan Hall single to put the Cougs on the board. Kyle Russell plated another one on the very next pitch to make it 2-0 and a passed ball scored Colin Montez gave the Cougars a 3-0 lead at the end of two.
The Aggies threatened in the top of the third, getting a runner on third but Taylor escaped the inning clean after winning an 11-pitch battle by getting Jack Moss to flyout.
WSU did all of its damage in the fourth inning. Will Cresswell reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on a Hall double down the left field line. Russell drove both in with a two-RBI single to left. The Cougs reloaded the bases and scored two more on a Justin Van De Brake hit by pitch and four-pitch walk to Montez. The Aggies second pitching change of the inning proved to be ineffective as WSU drove in four more with a Jack Smith double down the right field line and a Kodie Kolden single to left, making it 11-0 Cougs in just the fourth inning. WSU had a chance for more with runners on the corners and one out but couldn’t drive in the ninth run of the inning.
A&M drove in their first run of the game with a single to score a runner from second. They added another run in the sixth and seventh innings to make it an 11-3 game headed into the final frame. Down to their final out, the Aggies were able to load the bases and scored two on a single followed by a passed ball. A single and a walk scored one more and loaded the bases again to put the tying run on deck. Connor Barrison shut down any hopes of an Aggie comeback by striking out Aggie’s catcher Chanden Scamardo to give WSU the 11-6 victory.
Game 2: Wichita State 8, WSU 3
Just a hair under 13 hours after closing out the Aggies, McKabe Cottrell toed the rubber for the Cougars as they looked to grab “WSU supremacy” against the Witchita State Shockers.
The Cougars put their first two batters on to start the game but came up empty as the Cougs’ lead-off batter Russell, got picked off at second and a pair of strikeouts ended the Cougar threat. The Shockers repeated the Cougars efforts in the next half inning, putting their own two first batters on base. Ross Cadena scored both with a single to left but was gunned down at second trying to stretch it to a double.
Cottrell ended his day in the fourth, surrendering a bases loaded walk to give the Shockers a 3-0 lead. Barnum limited the damage in relief, giving up a run on a fielder’s choice but got the Cougs out of the inning still only down four. Montez grabbed a run back the next half inning with a shot over the right field wall for his first big fly of the year. The Cougars handed the run right back to the Shockers in the sixth as Jake Meyer tried to catch a Shocker napping with a pickoff attempt but it turned into an error, allowing Couper Cornblum to waltz home to make it 5-1 Shockers.
After a scoreless seventh and eighth, Van De Brake gave the Cougars some life by punishing a pitch left right over the heart of the plate for a homer to left making it a 5-2 game headed into the ninth.
The Shockers loaded with two outs and scored three on a hit-by-pitch to walk one in and a single to left to score the remaining two to make it 8-3. The Cougars went down in order in the ninth, handing WSU their fourth loss of the year.
Game 3: Iowa 6, WSU 5
In their final game of the classic, the Cougars jumped on the Hawkeyes early. Twice the Cougars pushed a runner to second on a wild pitch and twice they scored with a single to right field, giving WSU a 2-0 lead in the first. A third wild pitch of the game from Iowa in just the second inning scored Kolden from third to make it 3-0.
Cole McMillan kept the Hawkeyes off the scoreboard in his first five innings of work but at the expense of 94 pitches through five and one batter in the sixth. After walking the leadoff batter in the sixth inning, Brian Green turned the ball over to Cam Liss. Liss struggled, giving up a walk, a double, another walk and a wild pitch to bring Iowa back within a run. Kolby Kmetko tried to put stop the bleeding but gave up a back-breaking double to give Iowa a 4-3 lead.
The lead didn’t last long though. Hall sent a ball 418 feet over the left-center field fence for his first career home run to tie the game at four. Iowa, however, immediately responded, sending the first pitch of the bottom half of the inning over the center field wall to take a 5-4 lead. The Hawkeyes added one more with a two-out pinch hit single up the middle.
Van De Brake led off the eighth with a double down the left field stripe and scored two batters later on a sac-fly to center to make it a one run game. WSU put the tying run aboard to begin the final inning with a four-pitch walk to Smith. But got doubled up on the next batter as the Cougs tried to laydown a sacrifice bunt and got caught getting greedy trying to advance the tying run to third for your old fashioned 1-3-5 double play. A Hall walk followed up but a game-ending Russell groundout ended the game in a 6-5 WSU defeat.
After a long and warm two-week road trip to begin the season, WSU will kick off conference play this weekend against the Oregon State Beavers. The Cougars home opener at Bailey-Brayton Field is set for this Friday at 3:05 p.m.