Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

It’s worth the wait for Cougars

Bartlett’s HR in 8th gives WSU regional win

Derek Jones, left, high-fives Jay Ponciano, who comes home on a two-run homer by Cody Bartlett.  (Associated Press)
Derek Jones, left, high-fives Jay Ponciano, who comes home on a two-run homer by Cody Bartlett. (Associated Press)
Rich Polikoff Special to The Spokesman-Review

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Cougars haven’t had this kind of postseason start in a generation.

Cody Bartlett clubbed an unlikely two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Washington State rallied to defeat Kansas State 8-6 in the first round of the NCAA baseball Fayetteville Regional at Baum Stadium. It’s the first time the Cougars (35-20) have won an opening-round game in the NCAA tournament since 1990.

Bartlett’s home run came off Wildcats closer James Allen (5-1), who entered the game not having given up a home run this season (441/3 innings). Meanwhile, Bartlett had hit only one home run in his last 19 games.

“I was looking for the pitch I got (a fastball), and got my hands through,” said Bartlett, who went 3 for 5 and scored three runs. “…It wasn’t what I was going for. You’re always taught that home runs are accidental line drives that you get under and they go out.”

The home run, Bartlett’s sixth of the season, made a winner out of reliever Connor Lambert (5-1), who struck out the only batter he faced to end the eighth inning. Adam Conley pitched a shutout ninth for his 12th save of the season, tying a school record.

With the win, second-seeded WSU advanced to take on top-seeded Arkansas at 5:05 p.m. PDT today. The Razorbacks (41-18) defeated WSU in the first round of last year’s Norman Regional.

“We’ve had kind of a weird season, but the last 20 ballgames, we’ve been led from within,” said WSU coach Donnie Marbut, whose team earned its 19th come-from-behind win of the season. “My wife says, ‘You put them behind, and (the veteran players) put us over the top.’ ”

The third-seeded Wildcats (36-21) looked to be in control after scoring three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh, going ahead 6-3. The Cougars tied it up in the bottom of the seventh, though, getting within a run on a two-RBI double from Matt Fanelli and then evening things on a two-out triple by Garry Kuykendall.

Kansas State starter Kyle Hunter set down the first eight batters he faced. The Wildcats jumped ahead 1-0 in the fourth, but the Cougars’ bats woke up in the bottom of the inning.

Bartlett scored on a Michael Weber single to tie it at 1, and WSU added two more in the fifth. Kyle Johnson singled in Matt Argyropoulos, and two batters later Johnson scored on a Derek Jones double to right, making it 3-1.

“We might make our coaches pull their hair out at some points,” Fanelli said. “The first three innings weren’t very good offensively. We just have been in the situation coming from behind so many times that we never lose faith we’re going to get it done.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.