Cougar baseball drops Senior Day rubber game to USC, 10-3 – The Daily Evergreen

The Mothers of WSU baseball senior class threw out the ceremonial first pitches, senior Elias Farland shredded the national anthem on guitar and WSU recognized its 16-player senior class on a bright Mother and Senior Day in Pullman.

Despite the impeccable pregame atmosphere, WSU baseball (21-29, 9-18 Pac-12) lost the rubber match to USC (24-27, 14-12) 10-3 on Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field.

In his last start in Pullman, senior Duke Brotherton took the mound and struggled early, allowing five runs in the first three innings, settling for two scoreless runs, before a disastrous sixth inning.

The Cougar bats didn’t help much, putting the ball in play but never being able to string together more than two hits in an inning.

Senior shortstop Kyle Russell of University Place, Washington, observed his final game in Pullman after four years on the Palouse with a 3-for-5, two-RBI double day. Russell did his part, but only five other Cougs scored a hit.

Brotherton quickly retired the side in the first inning thanks to first pitch strikes and a sliding grab from left fielder Casen Taggart.

With two outs in the first inning, Brotherton hit Kevin Takeuchi with a pitch and the Trojans opened the floodgates. Austin Overn got on board with a single and stole second. While attempting to catch Overn, WSU catcher Jacob Morrow’s throw bounced off second baseman Crew Parke’s glove as the ball dribbled into the outfield.

Takeuchi scored on the throwing error and Overn scored on Ethan Hedges’ single, putting USC up 2-0 before the Cougs even came to bat.

USC added two runs on three more hits in the second inning and Overn doubled and scored again on a Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek RBI single in the third.

Trailing 5-0, the Cougs revealed the Palouse’s home field advantage. Parke hit the ball hard to right field, putting it out of the right fielder’s reach thanks to the snaking ball to a strong gust of wind. Max Hartman drew his second walk of the day and Russell, who grounded into a double play in the first inning, lost his barrel and found the green for a two-RBI double.

In the fourth, Brotherton hit his grove thanks to a heads-up pick-off from Morrow that caught USC’s leading runner attempting a steal. Brotherton retired USC’s best hitter, Ryan Jackson, and delivered his lone 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, retiring USC’s two, three and four hitters.

In the sixth inning, Brotherton hit two Trojan batters and Connor Clift, USC nine-hole hitter, took a hung pitch from Brotherton over the left-center fence for his first home run of the season.

USC led 8-2.

Brotherton’s career-high 5.2 innings were spoiled by Clift’s home run as the Trojans scored eight runs on eight hits. Each of the three runners Brotherton hit came around to score.

Joey Kramer responded with a double in the bottom of the sixth, crossing home thanks to Morrow’s RBI single. That would be all the WSU offense could do.

Senior Spencer Jones entered the game and got the Cougs out of the sixth and through two outs in the seventh. Jones handed the ball off to fellow senior Jack Lee, who struck out Chris Brown to end the inning.

Kaden Wickersham ran into trouble in the eighth, walking three and allowing two runs.

With his team trailing 10-3, senior Kevin Haynes, fresh off 1.1 scoreless innings the night before, pitched another clean ninth.

USC’s pitching staff had two Washington-born sons who acted on Mother’s Day to keep the Trojans on top.

Starter William Watson of Bow, Washington allowed three runs in 5.1 innings. He struck out three and walked four, but did enough to get his third win.

Mario Edwards struck out two to end the sixth inning and USC turned to Seattle native Jared Feikes. Feikes was hit by the Cougs on Friday night, allowing six runs without recording an out. Feikes was much more efficient on Sunday, plowing through 2.0 scoreless innings.

After the game, Feikes gave his mother flowers, as the Feikes family had come to Pullman from Seattle.

Flame-throwing Josh Blum reached a top speed of 95 MPH and faced four batters in the ninth.

He struckout Parke and Hartman, but Russell didn’t continue so quietly. In his final at-bat of a four-year Bailey-Brayton Field career, Russell hit one through a hole in the infield to get on board.

However, Cole Cramer grounded out to make it official, as the Cougs lost the game and the series to USC.

Head coach Nathan Choate was absent all weekend due to non-life-threatening emergency surgery. WSU has not provided a timeline for his return.

The Cougs head to Eugene, Oregon for the regular season finale. At 9-17, they are 0.5 games behind the UW Huskies (10-17 Pac-12).

Wazzu must skip UW if it wants a spot in what would be its first (and last traditional) Pac-12 baseball tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Ducks (34-16, 16-11) are fourth in the conference, making next weekend’s road trip a tall order.

WSU visits Oregon for a three-game series beginning Thursday at 6:05 p.m.