May 30, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. - Freshman Derek Jones and senior Jared Prince homered on back-to-back pitches in the sixth inning to lead Washington State past Wichita State 3-2 in an elimination game, Saturday at the 2009 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Norman Regional.
The Cougars (32-24), ranked No. 24 nationally and seeded third in the regional, will play Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific against the loser of Saturday night's game between Arkansas and Oklahoma. Wichita State (30-27), the regional's No. 4 seed, saw its season end.
"Baseball is a funny game," WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut said. "Yesterday, we had nine hits, struck out once, and lost. Today, we got three hits, punched out 10 times, and won. Our strength has been our pitching all year and today Chad Arnold pitched his best game as a Cougar."
Arnold (8-3), a redshirt-sophomore logged seven and one-third innings, the longest outing of his career, and struck out a career-high 10. Jordan Cooper (8-6) was equally impressive in a complete game loss. The right-hander tied his career high with 10 strikeouts and walked one.
Wichita State picked up an unearned run in the third and held a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth. With one out, redshirt-sophomore Jay Ponciano was issued a four-pitch walk and Jones hit Cooper's next pitch over the right field wall to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
"It is no secret I have been struggling with the pressure lately and trying to do too much," Jones said. "I finally got a pitch, put a good swing on it, and something good happen."
Prince drilled the next pitch from Cooper over the left field wall to increase the Washington State lead to 3-1. The Cougars needed that run because Ryan Jones homered off Arnold to open the Shockers' eighth.
After a strikeout and a walk, Arnold fell behind 2-0 to Chris O'Brien. Freshman Adam Conley relieved Arnold, completed the walk to O'Brien, and then struck out Ryan Engrav for the second out. Junior Connor Lambert came in to retire pinch hitter Josh Rosecrans on a fly ball that ended the inning.
In the ninth, redshirt-junior Jeremy Johnson gave up a one-out single, but retired the final two men he faced to notch his 10th save of the season.
The Cougars' victory was their first in the NCAA postseason since 1990 when they knocked off Pennsylvania 8-2 in an elimination game at the West II Regional in Tempe, Ariz...Derek Jones tied the Washington State record for home runs by a freshman with his 12th (Jason Grove, 1998/Stefan Bailie, 2000)...Adam Conley made his 24th appearance, a Cougar freshman record...redshirt-junior Jeremy Johnson moved into a tie for second on the Washington State single-season list with his 10th save and tied for third on the Washington State single-season list with his 28th appearance...Cougars recorded their 17th come-from-behind win of the season.