Washington State’s lineup continued its productive start to the season and the bullpen sparkled as the Cougars capped their stay at the Tony Gwynn Legacy with a comeback victory.
WSU erased a five-run deficit and held UNLV scoreless for the final six innings of a 10-9 win Monday in San Diego.
The Cougars (7-1) went 3-1 during the preseason event at Tony Gwynn Stadium, winning the last three games after absorbing their first loss of the season. WSU fell 8-3 to UC Irvine and thumped host San Diego State 14-1 on Friday, then came from behind to beat UC San Diego 3-2 on Sunday.
“The guys didn’t flinch,” WSU coach Brian Green said. “Just kept competing, kept battling, and a lot of good things happened.”
UNLV’s first six batters reached base in the bottom of the third and the Rebels (4-4) scored seven runs in the frame to open a 9-4 lead, but WSU (7-1) answered quickly with a three-run fourth.
The Rebels couldn’t contain a hot Cougar offense that’s averaging 12 runs and 11 hits per game this season. WSU opened the sixth with back-to-back singles and added two runs in the inning to tie the game. Outfielder Jonah Advincula plated shortstop Cam Magee with the go-ahead RBI groundout in the seventh, and relievers Ryan Orr and Caden Kaelber shut the door.
Orr, a true freshman from Tumwater, picked up his first collegiate win in his second career appearance after allowing one hit over 2⅓ innings.
“He was outstanding as a freshman (in that situation),” Green said. “He settled the game, enabled us to make a run and here comes Caden to close it out.”
Kaelber, who has started two games this year, earned the save after entering in the eighth. The senior from Pasco struck out four over 1⅔ flawless innings. Kaelber pitched six innings and earned a win Friday against San Diego State.
“We were thin today and we needed him,” Green said. “He came in and gave us five outs, closed it off. What an effort by him – a win and a save over this weekend against really quality opponents on the road.”
Five Rebel batters reached base over the final six innings.
WSU sent out Connor Wilford to make his first Division I start on the mound. The junior-college transfer was pulled after allowing six runs on five hits over two innings.
The Cougs registered 11 hits and five walks. Advincula hit 2-for-4 with three runs and an RBI. A transfer from Division III Redlands (California), Advincula is batting a team-best .452 and shares the team-high in RBI (15) with All-Pac-12 first baseman Jacob McKeon, who contributed two hits and an RBI against UNLV.
Outfielder Sam Brown scored twice and drove in two. Magee and second baseman Jake Harvey had two hits apiece. The two transfers – from Arizona State and Cal State Fullerton, respectively – have made an immediate impact for WSU’s offense. Both are batting above .350 with a combined 21 runs.
“It’s pretty balanced,” Green said of the lineup. “With Harvey down there in the 9 (hole) and Jonah, with what he’s been doing leading off, we’ve got a little double-leadoff thing going. Harvey is in the middle of it all the time. He’s a great player and he gets on base and creates runs, then (Advincula) is just going kinda nuts right now.”
Up next, WSU returns home for its first games of the season at Bailey-Brayton Field. The Cougars will host Southern Indiana for a three-game weekend series, beginning Friday at 4:05 p.m.