PULLMAN — If one had to pick out a single highlight from Washington State’s runaway victory Friday, it likely would be Jacob McKeon’s sixth-inning grand slam.
But when you score 21 runs and club 23 hits, there are high points aplenty.
The Cougars’ bats blistered No. 13 Arizona in a 21-2 Pac-12 Conference win Friday at Bailey-Brayton Field, WSU’s first home triumph against the Wildcats in four years. Seven Cougs recorded multiple hits, led by senior infielder Jack Smith’s 4-for-4 effort and McKeon’s six RBI, WSU hit .500 with runners in scoring position and tagged 10 extra-base hits in the offensive showcase.
It was Washington State’s first game with 20-plus runs since 2013.
“Obviously, a great night for the program,” WSU coach Brian Green said. “One through nine (in the lineup), a lot of quality at-bats.”
Arizona (21-11, 7-6 Pac-12) swept the Cougars the last time the teams played, in 2019. But WSU was on fire throughout this one, hitting .526 with two outs and driving in 12 two-out runs.
The Cougs (17-12, 5-8) hit .479 as a team.
“We competed hard and late in counts,” Green said. “We were able to extend pitches. There were a lot of full counts, deep-count at-bats, and obviously we hit a lot of balls hard.”
Washington State was well in control when McKeon sent his grand slam off the top of the left-field scoreboard. The Cougars plated three runs in the first inning, 10 in the second and two in the third to mount a 15-2 lead by the time McKeon stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth.
The junior outfielder, who is a first-year Coug by way of Central Arizona College, had RBI doubles in the second and third innings before capping his day with the slam. He entered the game leading WSU with a .365 batting average and, by the time he left after a 3-for-4 line, increased it to .393. He’s also hitting a team-best .450 in Pac-12 play.
McKeon wasn’t a full-time starter early this season, but has since solidified his spot in the lineup.
“Jake was a guy in the fall who was really trying to make a few mechanical adjustments. He’s a really hard worker, he’s a thinker,” Green said. “And now we can’t take him out of the lineup.”
Senior outfielder Justin Van De Brake, junior catcher Jake Meyer and freshman infielder Kyle Russell added three hits apiece, while junior shortstop Kodie Kolden and senior outfielder Collin Montez each had two hits. Junior first baseman Kyle Manzardo, WSU’s All-American and one of the Pac-12’s best hitters, was the Cougars’ only starter who did not have a hit, snapping a seven-game hitting streak.
The 0-for-5 line was the first of Manzardo’s WSU career.
“That’s really important for our team to know that we can win when Manzo doesn’t hit,” Green said. “And it’s also really important for Manzo to know that he doesn’t have to be Superman every day. He has been. He’s been so good. But that was a really big thing for our team, that we can win without Kyle Manzardo getting hits.”
The Cougars’ bats were backed by steady pitching and solid defense that nullified almost every Wildcat threat. Relievers Dakota Hawkins, Michael Newstrom and Grant Taylor combined to shut Arizona out in the game’s final 3⅔ innings after starter Brandon White yielded two runs.
White (5-2) walked six and struck out three in what Green called an “OK” 5⅓ innings of work. The tall, junior right-hander held Arizona hitless through three and worked out of jams in the third and fourth frames.
“He made big pitches when we really needed (him) to,” Green said.
WSU’s defense was error-free until the ninth inning and was anchored by the double-play duo of Russell at second base and Kolden. The Cougars turned four double plays, three of which included Kolden, Russell or both.
“Those guys played outstanding today,” Green said.
The Cougars and Wildcats continue their three-game series at 2:05 p.m. today.
Arizona 000 002 000 — 2 6 3
WSU 3(10)2 006 00x — 21 23 1
Brandon White, Dakota Hawkins (6), Michael Newstrom (8), Grant Taylor (9) and Jake Meyer, Gabe Togia (9); Chase Silseth, Trevor Long (2), Gil Luna (6) and Daniel Susac, Kaden Hopson (4).
W — White. L — Silseth.
Arizona hits — Jacob Berry (2B), Kyson Donahue (2B), Chase Davis (2B), Tanner O’Tremba, Donta Williams, Tony Bullard.
Washington State hits — Jack Smith 4 (2 2B), Jacob McKeon 3 (HR, 2 2B), Jake Meyer 3 (3B, 2B), Kyle Russell 3 (2B), Justin Van De Brake 3, Kodie Kolden 2 (2B), Collin Montez 2, Tristan Peterson (2B), Keith Jones II, Gunner Gouldsmith.
Guernsey may be contacted at email@example.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @MD_Guernsey.