SEATTLE – Washington took a 4-0 lead, but could not hold it as Washington State rallied to beat the Huskies 6-4 in the first of three games at Husky Ballpark Friday night.
Washington (27-10-1, 14-5) dropped its third-straight game for the first time this year and its bullpen took the loss for the first time since the season-opening game vs. Air Force way back on Feb. 14.
Despite the loss and an Oregon State win, the No. 5/7 Huskies maintain a half-game lead over the Beavers for first-place in the Pac-12 standings.
The Cougars (18-20, 8-8) scored three times in the seventh inning to wipe out a Husky lead and take an advantage they would not give back.
The evening started jovial enough for Washington and the crowd of 1,489 as ex-Husky wide receiver and current Seattle Seahawks’ player Jermaine Kearse threw out the ceremonial first pitch to surprise visitor Russell Wilson. The buzz continued into the second inning when the Huskies jumped out to an early four run advantage.
Austin Rei unloaded for a three-run bomb to straight-away center field to give the Dawgs a quick 3-0 lead. Trevor Mitsui doubled, extending a streak of reaching base in 33 of 34 games, to lead off the inning, followed by a walk to the Pac-12’s number two hitter Brian Wolfe. After a sacrifice bunt by Branden Berry, Rei hit a no-doubt longball on a 1-1 pitch off WSU starter Joe Pistorese for his second homer of the season.
The Huskies weren’t done scoring in the second. Matt Jackson, a last-second replacement at third, followed Rei by reaching on a fielding error by second baseman Ian Sagdal. After he stole second, Braden Bishop knocked him home with a single to make it 4-0.
Washington State answered right back in the top of the third with three runs of their own. UW starter Jared Fisher gave up a lead-off single and then threw eight-straight balls – two of which were wild pitches – to load the bases. After a Nick Tanielu sacrifice fly scored one run, Ben Roberts followed with a two-run triple. Fisher was able to get out of the inning without allowing any further damage, but Washington State had new life.
Fisher left with the 4-3 lead after going six innings, allowing five hits and the three runs in the third inning, but ultimately did not figure in the decision.
The Cougars promptly took the lead off the Huskies’ bullpen in the seventh to turn the tides for good in the game. Trevor Dunlap loaded the bases and with one out and got Nick Tanielu to ground into a fielder’s choice to third that was almost a double-play. Instead it scored a run to tie the game at 4-4 and the inning was kept alive.
After a walk re-loaded the bases, Sagdal made up for his earlier error by fighting off numerous pitches from the second pitcher of the inning Will Ballowe, before he finally served a clutch two-out single into center that scored two runs and gave the Cougars the 6-4 lead.
Four Cougars relievers allowed one hit over the final 3 and 2/3 innings to preserve the lead. Kellen Camus was the winner to improve to 4-0 and Ian Hamilton retired the final four Huskies to pick up save No. 11.
Dunlap (2-2) took the loss, his first loss since the season-opener. The Huskies’ bullpen was 13-0 with a 1.90 ERA in the 36 games since that opening-day loss.
Mitsui continued to swing a hot bat for the Huskies going 3-for-4 at the plate. He was the only Husky with multiple hits on the night.
Washington has now scored in just two innings over its last three games, a span of 27 innings.
The Huskies and Cougars continue the series Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with all the action carried live on Pac-12 Washington. Washington sends Tyler Davis (8-1, 1.54) to the hill in search of his ninth win of the season against WSU right-hander Tanner Chleborad (2-4, 4.63).
Washington State 6, #7 Washington 4
WSU 003 000 300 –- 6 7 1
WASH 040 000 000 –- 4 8 2
Jared Fisher, Trevor Dunlap (7), Will Ballowe (7) and Austin Rei. Joe Pistorese, Kellen Camus (6), Matt Bower (7), Sean Hartnett (8), Ian Hamilton (8) and P.J. Jones. W – Camus (4-0). L – Dunlap (2-2). Sv – Hamilton (11). HR – UW, Austin Rei (2). 3B – WSU, Ben Roberts. 2B – WSU, Collin Slaybaugh; UW, Trevor Mitsui. Time – 3:17. Attendance – 1,489.