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WSU rallies past ASU, 6-5


COUGARS

We were out at the baseball game against top-ranked Arizona State tonight, and we have this story for you to read if you so desire. There is also a short basketball note on the end, so read on.
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• Here is the unedited version of the baseball game story ...

PULLMAN – It would seem when you play the top-ranked college baseball team in the nation, a team that's won 27 of its first 28 games, you would need to be perfect to win.

Well, Washington State University wasn't perfect Friday night in the opener of its three-game Pac-10 series with No. 1 Arizona State. Far from it.

But the Cougars didn't need to be. They just needed to be decent in one area: putting together a rally.

Their third of the night came in the bottom of the ninth, consisted of a looping double down the right-field line, a bunt and a pinch-hit single. It was enough to break a tie and lift WSU to a 6-5 victory before 715 at Bailey-Brayton Field.

"They're just resilient," said WSU coach Donnie Marbut when asked about the Cougars' ninth comeback win this season. "We've played in a lot of tight games ... and we're going to stay with it."

After trailing 2-0 and 5-4, the Cougars (16-10, 2-2 in Pac-10 play) tied the game in the seventh when Garry Kuykendall – wearing No. 47 because he didn't have his usual 24 – took the first pitch from reliever Mitchell Lambson – wearing No. 77 because he didn't have his usual 40 – off the top of the right-field fence, scoring Cody Bartlett from first.

WSU left-handed relievers Paris Shewey and Adam Conley limited the Sun Devils (5-2 in Pac-10 play) to one base runner from there, with Conley getting the win and raising his record to 3-1.

But Lambson, a lefty with a 1.48 earned run average and a 3-0 record, also kept the Cougars at bay. Until the ninth.

Matt Argyropoulos, a right-handed hitting third baseman who already had one hit and had taken one away from ASU with his glove, led off the inning expecting something hard from Lambson.

"I was looking for a fastball and he ended up throwing a change up," Argyropoulos said, "and I just stayed through it long enough and it fell in."

The 180-foot looper hit about 5 feet fair, bit like a Tiger Woods' wedge and Argyropoulos out-ran Kole Calhoun's throw to second. Jay Ponciano did his job, moving Argyropoulos to third with a sacrifice bunt and first-year ASU coach Tim Esmay went to his closer Jordan Swagerty to face pinch-hitter Patrick Claussen.

"Hunt the fastball," Marbut told Claussen before the at-bat. He did.

Swagerty, perfect in eight save chances with 25 strikeouts in 19 innings, brought his mid-90s fastball. It went back through the middle even quicker.

"I thought a first pitch fastball was my best bet," the left-hand hitting Claussen said.

Marbut felt there was only one reason Claussen even had a chance to go hunting: WSU starter Chad Arnold.

"The bullpen was great, but the guy was Chad," Marbut said. "You spot them two and we through a ball away first inning, guys would melt, and next thing you know it would be 8-0. But Chad buckled down and made pitches when we needed him to."

The Sun Devils scored twice in the first, helped immensely by a game-opening error on a routine ground ball. They scored three more in the fifth when Arnold gave up back-to-back doubles and then made an error with a 2-2 changeup, leaving it up in the zone. ASU's Zack MacPhee got it up in the jet stream to right for a two-run home run, giving him 39 RBIs.

But in between Arnold was tough, helped by two Cougar double plays and three defensive gems, two by rightfielder Derek Jones.

And the Cougars rallied, scoring four times in the bottom of the first – a MacPhee two-out error made three of Seth Blair's runs unearned – to give Arnold a cushion.

The teams will play again today at 2 p.m. before concluding the three-game, Mom's Weekend series at noon Sunday.

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• One more Cougar-related note. Some people keep up-to-date through Twitter posts, especially those of athletes. Well, yesterday, WSU point guard Reggie Moore tweeted about an MRI he was having on his knee, then later had another tweet that stated he had some big decisions to make. Well, I checked, and it seems Moore's MRI was fine – he tweaked his knee about midway through the season and played through it, though it did bother him some the last half – and the decisions are personal ones, not having anything to do with basketball. Just thought you might want to know.

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• That's it for tonight. We'll be back in the morning. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi





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