Huskies Are One Win Away From First CWS Appearance
FULLERTON, Calif. — Washington battled the heat and a College World Series tested Cal State Fullerton squad on Friday and came away with an 8-5 win in front of a standing-room only crowd at Goodwin field to move one step closer to making the team’s first-ever trip to Omaha.
In a game that had plenty of Husky heroes to pick from, it was a freshman from the Southern California area that provided the final lift for the Huskies (34-23), who have now won nine of their last 10 games.
With the Huskies clinging to a 6-5 lead in the eighth inning, Kaiser Weiss , who entered the game in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement in right field, doubled into the left-field corner, scoring a pair of runs and giving Washington the final push they needed to safely close out game one.
“Isn’t that always the way it is?” Husky Coach Lindsay Meggs said to the throng of media gathered for his post-game press conference. “You put somebody in like that for defense and he comes up at a huge moment in the course of a game, gets down 0-2 and takes a great at bat. He just grinds, takes a couple of pitches and gets back in the count.
“I told our guys that’s kind of how our season has gone,” Meggs continued. “We started off the season, 0-2, and we fought our way back to put ourselves in position that a lot of teams want to be. I’m really proud of our kids.”
Joe DeMers , who is listed as Saturday’s starter for game two, came into the game in the ninth inning and needed 14 pitches to earn his third save of the season and secure the Huskies first-ever win in their inaugural Super Regional appearance.
In the early going, it looked like the final outcome might be different, but like so many times this year, the Huskies bent, but did not break.
In the first inning, UW starter Lucas Knowles got off to a rough start. Cal State Fullerton (35-24) lead-off hitter Hank LoForte singled to start the inning and eventually came around to score on a double by catcher Daniel Cope that evaded the glove of a sliding Christian Jones in right field. The Titans would go on to load the bases, but the Huskies’ red-shirt freshman lefty got Jace Chamberlin swinging and Jake Pavletich to ground out to end the threat and keep the game at 1-0.
The Huskies would go on to load the bases with no outs in their half of the second inning, but were unable to push anyone across the plate after CS Fullerton ace, Colton Eastman, who was a fourth-round MLB Draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies got a pop up to shallow left field and a pair of strikeouts to send the Huskies away without scoring.
Fullerton would add an unearned run in the second to extend its lead to 2-0. No. 8 hitter Chris Prescott was hit by the first pitch of the inning by Knowles and eventually came around to score when Mitchell Berryhill hit a hard ground ball to Willie MacIver that ate him up and bounced away before a play could be made.
The Huskies finally converted some offensive opportunities in the third inning to tie the game back up at 2-2. Mason Cerrillo jump-started the offense with a lead-off single and was able to motor around to third when centerfielder Mitchell Berryhill misplayed the ball. Braiden Ward chased Cerrillo home for the Huskies’ first run on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Ward and Kahle singled to start the fifth inning and both eventually came around to give Washington its first lead, 4-2. Jordan drove Ward home with a sacrifice fly and AJ Graffanino pushed Kahle home with a two-out RBI single to centerfield.
On the hill, Knowles gave up a lead-off single in the third inning, but wiped out the side in order, thanks to an inning-ending double play. He would set down the next six Titans in order to work through five full innings on 83 pitches. He ended up allowing two runs – only one earned – on five hits, one walk, a hit batter, while striking out three.
“It was a great atmosphere, so he might have had some nerves going,” said Kahle of Knowles. “Once he settled down, he put up three zeros in a row, so that was big.”
Knowles exited the game with a 4-2 lead and picked up the win to improve to 6-5 on the season.
Washington played add-on in the seventh, scoring two more runs, using a familiar formula. Ward reached on a bunt base hit and Kahle singled to put two runners on base to start the inning. Joe Wainhouse would pick up a RBI when he reached on an error and Graffanino would pick up another two-out RBI with a single to right field that scored Kahle.
The seventh inning runs proved to be big for the Huskies as Fullerton pieced together a walk and three hits to score three times after the stretch and whittle the Huskies advantage to just one run, 6-5.
The Huskies had to play hang-on from there. In the eighth as Alex Hardy got the first two outs of the inning before loading the bases and escaping when he got a ground out.
Jordan doubled and Graffanino walked to set the table for Weiss in the eighth.
The trio of Kahle (3-for-5, three runs), Jordan (3-for-4, 2 RBI) and Graffanino (3-for-3, 2 RBI) led the Huskies’ offensive onslaught with three hits each. UW pounded out 14 hits, including a season-high 12 off of Eastman (10-4), who also allowed a season-high six runs.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday in game two of the Super Regional. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on ESPNU.