Baseball squad escapes with 6-5 victory.
March 5, 1999
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - It was not the prettiest win for the 9-2 Washington State baseball team, but with some gutsy performances from the pitching staff and a single tally in the ninth inning, the Cougars escaped with a 6-5 non-conference win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the 15th Annual Hormel Foods Baseball Classic in the Minneapolis Metrodome Friday.
The Golden Gophers (6-5) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after the first two innings off Cougar pitching ace Wade Parrish (Othello, Wash.) After giving up the five runs, two of which were unearned, Parrish (3-0) settled into a groove after the second inning. Over the next three innings he did not allow a run and at one point retired nine in a row.
Lanakila Niles (Pearl City, Hawai'i) was nothing short of spectacular in his third appearance in a Cougar uniform. The crafty right-hander entered in relief of Parrish in the sixth and gave up only one hit in two innings before turning the ball over to Sean Donlin (Woodinville, Wash.) and closer Reggie Rivard (Bonnyville, Alberta).
After giving up a lead-off single in the eighth Donlin handed over a 1-1 count to the hard-throwing Rivard. After a stolen base and a wild pitch, the junior right-hander got a groundball out to second base and a fly ball to centerfield to strand the go-ahead run 90-feet from homeplate.
With the game tied 5-5, Cougar Ray Hattenburg (Spokane, Wash.) drew a lead-off walk. After a Steve Gleason (Spokane, Wash.) bunt single and a Bookie Gates (Seattle, Wash.) infield single, Minnesota reliever Frank Wagner (2-2) threw a bases loaded wild pitch with two outs in the top of the ninth to score Hattenburg with the eventual game-winning run.
In the bottom of the ninth Rivard closed the door on the Gophers to secure the come-from-behind victory and improving the Cougars season record to 9-2. The 9-2 start is the best a Cougar team has faired to open a season since the 1988 team started 9-1. With his two-inning relief appearance, Rivard picked up his first win of the season to go with his two saves.
After quickly falling behind 5-0, WSU got back in the game in the sixth pulling to within two runs, 5-3. Gates provided a run-scoring double and Boyd Robertson (Richland, Wash.) added an RBI groundout in the three-run sixth frame. Gates finished with a strong 3-for-5 game and played excellent defense at third and second base. The freshman infielder is now hitting at a .500 (9-for-18) clip for the season. Gleason was also 3-for-5 with a double and two singles.
Minnesota was its own worst enemy tying a season-high with four errors which led to three costly unearned runs. UM starting pitcher Kelly Werner (0-0) was at the receiving end of a hard fought no-decision as he pitched well giving up two earned runs and seven hits in five and one-third innings of work. Wagner was saddled with the loss despite giving up only two hits and one run in two innings. Third baseman Matt Scanlon was 3-for-5 to lead the Gophers at the plate.
The Cougars will next play No. 13 Wichita State (10-4) who are fresh off an 8-1 defeat of the nation's No. 1 team in Florida State. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST with Jamaal Gaines (0-2) getting the start for the Cougars and Nate Robertson (2-0) getting the start for the Shockers.