With one swing of the bat, Will Simpson had put the Washington baseball team back in the game.
The redshirt freshman, who has been one of the most important and consistent part of head coach Lindsay Meggs’ lineup this season, had once again given the Huskies some hope. Leading off against Washington State starter Grant Taylor, Simpson launched his team-leading seventh home run of the year — a moonshot deep over the left-center fence. The solo shot pulled Washington within two with three innings to play, and hinted at more to come from the UW offense.
Simpson’s home run was a false dawn though. Washington’s bullpen immediately surrendered three runs in the bottom half of the frame, and three more the next, condemning the Huskies to a 9-1 loss in the series finale against the Cougars on Saturday in Pullman, Washington.
The UW offense, which put up 14 runs on Friday, returned to its old habits less than 24 hours later. Despite managing eight hits, the Huskies were held to one run or less for the 14th time this season. In its final game of the season, Washington stranded 10 runners, going 3-for-18 with runners on base and 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Part of the Huskies’ struggles came from the lack of distribution of offense throughout the lineup. Seven of Washington’s eight hits came from three players. Senior Ramon Bramasco went 3-for-4 for the second day in a row, and redshirt freshmen Preston Viltz and Michael Brown managed two hits apiece.
The rest of Washington’s lineup combined to go just 1-for-22, as Taylor (3-0) and the rest of the Washington State pitching staff got the outs when they needed them. WSU’s starter went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks, striking out four.
But Washington’s season finale flop can’t totally be blamed on the bats. Washington starter Adam Bloebaum (2-5), making just his second appearance since injuries held him out against No. 6 Arizona two weeks ago, was hooked after giving up three runs in just 3 1/3 innings. Saturday was the shortest outing since he became the Huskies’ Sunday starter in mid-April.
The UW bullpen wasn’t much better. Redshirt freshman Stu Flesland III pitched a clean 1 1/3 innings, and was relieved by junior Gabe Smith to finish the fifth. However, the righty ran into problems in the sixth following Simpson’s home run. Hoping to hold Washington State, Smith walked the first batter of the inning and hit the second, ending his night.
To replace Smith, Meggs turned to junior Davis Delorefice. However, the UW closer immediately surrendered another walk to load the bases. A sacrifice fly brought in one for WSU before graduate student Tristan Peterson doubled to right, plating two and extending the lead to 6-1. The Cougars three runs came on just one hit.
Three more runs were charged to Delorefice before his line was finished, as he gave up a sac fly with a runner on third in the seventh, and left the game with runners on the corners, both of whom scored after UW lefty Colton Charnholm surrendered a double to WSU junior Kyle Manzardo.
Washington finished the season 20-30, ten games below .500. It’s the second worst record in Meggs’ ten-year career on Montlake, and the first time he’s finished with a losing record since the Huskies went 24-32 in 2013.
The team’s 6-21 conference record is also Meggs’ lowest conference win total since the team managed the same record in 2011, his second season on the job. Washington’s last place finish in the conference is also a low he hasn’t seen since 2011.
Reach senior staff writer Andy Yamashita at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ANYamashita
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