The Washington baseball team scored seven runs in the ninth inning to turn a three-run deficit into a four-run lead en route to a fifth-straight victory. After trailing 5-2 in the eighth inning, the Huskies beat Fresno State 9-6 for the three-game series sweep.
The ninth began harmlessly enough on UW (5-2) junior shortstop Tommie Williams’ groundout to the shortstop. Then, the Husky batters went on an absolute tirade. Eight hitters reached base, including six in a row at one point, as the UW offense pummeled Bulldogs (2-4) closer Kevin Larson for four hits and three walks in the top of the ninth.
Sophomore second baseman Noah Hsue singled to score junior center fielder Braiden Ward to tie the game at 5-5. Then, after two more walks, freshman first baseman Will Simpson strode into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and one out.
After falling quickly behind 0-2 in the count, Simpson worked the count full. Finally, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, he drew a walk to score Hsue and take a 6-5 lead. The Husky batting order just kept rolling, as though they’d saved a barrel-full of pent-up energy from the previous lethargic eight innings.
Williams doubled in his second at-bat of the inning to drive in two more, as the Huskies batted around to complete the turnaround. The hit extended the lead to 9-5 and effectively put the finishing touches on the Bulldogs.
Prior to the ninth inning, though,game three appeared to be a disappointment for UW head coach Lindsay Meggs and his underwhelming offense. Aside from a brief moment in the fifth, in which sophomore designated hitter Karl Koerper demolished a ball to deep center field for his first career home run, the Huskies’ bats hid themselves away expertly in the dugout.
UW hitters went 4-for-28 in the first eight innings, including a three-inning drought in which they recorded zero hits. After managing just four total knocks in the first eight innings, the Huskies improved their game batting average from .143 to .273 in the span of fifteen minutes of late-game heroics
Despite scoring nine runs, senior shortstop Ramon Bramasco led all Husky hitters with just two hits, including a one-out, momentum-swinging single to start the ninth inning. The UW did show promising discipline and patience, drawing seven free-passes in the game, including two from freshman hitters in the ninth inning.
Meanwhile, the Washington baseball pitching staff finally butted heads with Fresno State’s home run hitting caliber, allowing four runs on three deep shots. Fresno State entered the series having belted an absurd seven home runs in its first three games of the season.
In the first two bouts with Husky pitchers on the mound, the Bulldogs seemed firmly stuck in that statistic at the hands of intelligent UW pitching. Throughout most of the third game, however, three Fresno State homeruns headlined what appeared to be an uneventful Bulldog victory.
While Husky pitchers sent three times as many Bulldog baserunners across home plate in this game as they had in the previous two combined, it was the offense that shone through this afternoon.
Previously unable to generate consistent offense in the final stages of games, the UW’s aggressiveness and clutch at-bats with runners on-base in the ninth inning should inspire fans as the season continues to grow older.
The Huskies return to Seattle next weekend for their home-opening series against UC Irvine.
Reach reporter Nicholas Mendro at email@example.com. Twitter: @m_mendro
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