May 28, 2006
SEATTLE, Wash. - The University of Washington scored five unanswered runs in its final two at-bats to erase a three-run deficit as the Huskies defeated Washington State, 5-3, in the Pacific-10 Conference finale for both teams Sunday afternoon at Husky Ballpark.
With the loss the Cougars see their season end with a 36-23 record, 10-14 in Pac-10 play. The 36 wins are the most by a Cougar team since posting 37 victories during the 1991 season. It also marks the most conference victories by WSU since the Pac-10 began a full round-robin format prior to the 1999 season. Washington ends its season with a 36-25 mark, 11-13 in conference action.
The Cougars jumped out early with a single run in the top of the first. A leadoff walk to Travis Coulter followed by a Jay Miller single to right put runners at the corners with no outs. Jared Prince hit into a double play, but Coulter came home for the game's first run. WSU added another run in the second without the benefit of a hit, taking advantage of three walks and a hit batter. With two outs and the bases loaded, Coulter walked on a 3-2 pitch, pushing across the second run of the game.
After walking the first batter of the game, Cougar starter Reese Baker retired 12 straight Huskies before allowing a leadoff single to Trevor Peterson starting the fifth. Baker then hit Matt Lane to put runners on first and second with no outs. The Cougars escaped with their 2-0 lead intact as Matt Stevens lined into a double play and Lane was out trying to steal second, ending the inning.
WSU extended its lead in the seventh when Jay Miller's sacrifice fly to center scored brother Jeff Miller from third for a 3-0 lead. Jeff Miller led off the inning with a single to right, his first hit of the series.
The Huskies found the scoreboard in the seventh with a pair of runs. Kyle Conley's pinch-hit double down the left field line brought home Lane and Matt Stevens, cutting the Cougar lead to one. Jeremy Johnson came on in relief of Baker and struckout Bradley Boyer to end the inning as WSU took a 3-2 lead into the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth a one-out walk to Cory Rickard started the rally. Curt Rindal doubled Rickard home to tie the game then Petersen and Stevens added RBI singles for the final margin of victory.
The Cougars got a one-out hit from Simi Reynolds in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate, but Husky pitcher Elliott Cribby retired the next two hitters to end the game.
WSU had seven hits in the game as no player had more than one. On the mound, Baker went six and 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Johnson suffered his first loss of the year as he allowed three runs on two hits. Steve Kost worked the final 2/3 of the eighth.
Petersen had two hits while Conley added a pair of RBIS to lead the Husky offense. Afteer starter Matt Kasser worked just one and 2/3 innings, Tyler Cheney went the next six for Washington, allowing one run on five hits. Cribby picked up the win as he worked the final one and 1/3 innings.
The Cougars have concluded their 2006 season with a number of accomplishments in addition to the 36 wins. The 15-game improvement from the 21-win season in 2005 is tied for the best single-season improvement since 1956, when the Cougars also had a 15-win improvement. Freshman Jared Prince became the first Cougar to hit over .400, and only the fourth ever, since Kelly Smith batted .418 during the 1980 season.
Senior Jay Miller concluded his tremendous Cougar career as the all-time leader in hits with 307 and at-bats with 891, and second in career doubles with 74.