The sun was shining brightly Friday afternoon at Bailey Field and Washington State was shutting out Washington through four innings.
A deceptive picture indeed, for the Palouse air was quite chilly and the Cougars had yet to turn to their bullpen.
WSU starter Wade Parrish carried WSU through five innings, then watched helplessly as relievers Dave Wheeler and Marcus Glaze allowed seven walks and four earned runs in what quickly became a 7-4 Washington victory.
The Cougars, 5-27 overall and 1-4 in the Pacific-10 Northern Division, have a shot at redemption when this four-game series continues today with a noon doubleheader.
Friday’s game was lost in the eighth inning.
Wheeler (1-5) walked Jin Na, then gave up an RBI double to Ryan Lentz as the Huskies (22-11-1, 5-0) took a 5-4 lead. Wheeler walked Ryan Bundy before yielding to Glaze with two outs.
It was a change in name only: Glaze walked the next two batters to force in another run, and the issue was settled.
“It comes down to pitching - you’ve got to be able to stop them,” said WSU coach Steve Farrington, whose team had won three straight. “Parrish threw very well, I thought.”
The same could be said for Washington starter Jake Kringen (6-2), a junior left-hander with 211 strikeouts in 207 career innings. Kringen struck out 11 Cougars in seven innings, persevering through a few turbulent situations.
The Cougars went after his fastball early, with mixed results.
They struck out twice in each of the first five innings, but also managed to take a 3-0 lead on a first-inning double-steal and Steve Curran’s two-run bloop single in the third.
“The Cougs had a good plan going in,” Washington coach Ken Knutson said. “Against a guy with good stuff like Jake - he throws the ball over 90 miles an hour - you want to get your swings in early.
“So they were swinging at it and they got it going. We had a chance to maybe let the game get away from us and we held them to three runs early, so it was clutch pitching by Jake.”
Lentz supplied the clutch hitting, going 3 for 5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. In 32 games this season, Lentz has 17 doubles - one short of Washington’s single-season record.
“Things are starting to pan out my way and it’s fun,” said Lentz, whose batting average jumped from .342 to .352.
After winning just four of their first 12 games, the Huskies have won 17 of 21, including their last six.
“At the beginning of the year, everybody expected us to be a super all-star team,” Lentz said. “I just think we kind of sat back and expected that of ourselves.
“But we’ve turned things around and realized that things aren’t going to come without hard work, and we’ve definitely put our fair share of hard work in.”
The Huskies will start right-hander Blair Fowler (2-2, 2.83 earned-run average) and lefty Matt Hampton (3-0, 5.08) today. The Cougars will go with right-hander Burdette Greeny (1-4, 5.30) and lefty Todd Meldahl (1-3, 7.45).
Washington 7, WSU 4
UW 000 013 021 - 7 11 1
WSU 102 000 100 - 4 11 1
Kringen, Williamson (8) and Bundy. Parrish, Wheeler (6), Glaze (8), Schneider (9) and Hairston. W-Kringen (6-2). L-Wheeler (1-5).
HITS: UW-Magruder, Stefonick, Miller, Soules 2, Woods, Lentz 3, Bundy, Porter. WSUStevenson 2, Hattenburg 2, Curran 2, Hoorelbeke 2, Kelley, Hairston, Robinson. 2B-Lentz, Magruder, Robinson. A-531.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo