PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State had a couple late-inning rallies turned away in a 6-5 defeat to No. 8 Arizona in the series rubber game at Bailey-Brayton Field Sunday afternoon. The Cougars evened the series with a 9-3 win Saturday before UA claimed the series with Sunday’s win.
WSU (15-14, 2-7 Pac-12) received two-hit games from sophomore leftfielder Justin Harrer and junior right fielder J.J. Hancock while Harrer and junior first baseman J.J. Hancock each drove in two runs. Arizona (23-8, 7-5 Pac-12) broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the fifth and rebuffed a pair of later Cougar rallies including the eighth inning where WSU had runners on second and third with nobody out and were unable to get a run across.
In the second, Arizona took advantage of three walks to score a pair of runs, both with two outs for a 2-0 lead. The Wildcats added another run in the fourth with a two-out double down the left field line.
The Washington State offense got going in their half of the fourth inning. Dillon Plew was hit by a pitch to start the inning, Shane Matheny later walked and both runners moved up on a Cory Meyer groundout. With runners on second and third with two outs, Rudkin singled into centerfield to score two and cut the Arizona lead to 3-2. Hancock followed with a single through the right side, pinch-hitter Jon Burghardt drew a walk and Rudkin was able to score on the play as ball four went to the backstop, tying the game at 3-3. The Cougars loaded the bases later in the inning but the Arizona bullpen ended the threat with a ground ball to the third baseman who stepped on the bag for the final out.
In the fifth, the Wildcats put three runs on the board in the fifth inning for a 6-3 advantage after the Cougars issued three walks, two wild pitches and a passed ball in the inning.
The Cougars came back in the seventh as freshman centerfielder Danny Sinatro singled back up the middle on the first pitch he saw to start the inning. Sophomore shortstop Andres Alvarez drew a walk and Plew bunted both runners up a base. With runners on second and third, Harrer jumped on the first pitch for a two-run double to left field, scoring Sinatro and Alvarez and cutting the Arizona lead to one, 6-5.
Washington State put two runners in the eighth as Rudkin led off with a walk and Hancock followed with a double to leftcenter that saw Rudkin just beat the tag at third base. With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Wildcat bullpen came up big, getting pair of strikeouts and ending the inning with a groundout to preserve the one-run lead.
In the ninth, Arizona put the first two hitters on but a pair nice defensive plays by the Cougars kept it a 6-5 game. Rudkin made the play of the day in the inning, charging a bunt from first on an Arizona squeeze play and flipping the ball with his glove to Meyer at the plate to tag out the runner trying to score from third.
For the Cougars in the bottom of the ninth, Matheny lined a single into right field with two outs but Arizona got the final out on a fielder’s choice groundout to second, sealing up the 6-5 win.
Cougar reliever Joe Rosenstein suffered the loss while Arizona reliever Cameron Ming picked up the win after innings of work and Tylor Megill recorded the save.
Washington State will head to Tempe, Ariz. next week for a Pac-12 Conference series against Arizona State University beginning Thursday.