Norman, Okla.-- Two pitches spoiled freshman right-hander Jordan Cooper's complete game. Although Cooper allowed just three hits, two were the homeruns that gave the Cougars the 3-2 victory, ending the Shockers' run in their ninth-consecutive NCAA Regional Championship.
Cooper (8-6) tied his career high with 10 strikeouts, and allowed just three hits while his team more than doubled that number. His second consecutive complete game wasn’t enough to pick up the victory, as the Shockers’ (30-27) season came to a close.
For the second game in a row, the Shocker offense was led by Will Baez. The junior second baseman went 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen basJunior centerfielder Ryan Jones drove in both runs for the Shockers, including a solo blast to right in a valiant attempt to rally the Shocks in the eighth.
Washington State (32-24) was led by left fielder Derek Jones and his two run bomb in the bottom of the sixth. Right-hander Chad Arnold (8-3) kept the game close on the mound, allowing just one run and striking out 10 in his 7.1 innings of work.
A pitcher’s duel emerged early in front of nearly 1,500 fans at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday afternoon, as both starters went straight to work. Through the first two innings, each had only let one hitter reach base, neither by way of a hit.
Baez broke the silence, knocking the Shocks’ first base hit in the top of the third. The junior continued to thrive in his second day in Norman. Although the hit represented the sixth-consecutive time Baez reached base in as many play appearances, it wasn’t what got the Shockers on the board.
Left fielder Bret Bascue sprinted out a dropped third strike and moved to second on Baez’s single. A Cougar error allowed loaded the bases before junior centerfielder Ryan Jones brought Bascue home with a sacrifice fly and gave the Shockers the lead, 1-0.
Washington State broke its hitless streak in the following at bat when third baseman Matt Argyropoulos singled to right. Cooper refused to let the hit amount to anything more than that, as he struck out the side to nix any threat. He would not allow another hit until the bottom of the sixth, but it would be a costly one.
Catcher Jay Ponciano earned a one-out walk to put a runner on for Jones, who came through with a two-run homer to left. One pitch later, right fielder Jared Prince put one over the fence in right for the first homers Cooper’s allowed since May 6.
Now ahead 3-1, Arnold started the seventh with his first lead of the game. Sophomore Mitch Caster drilled his second hit in as many pinch-hitting appearances of the tournament, and Baez collected his second base knock of the day. Arnold, however, sat three more Shockers down on strikes to halt the rally.
In the top of the eighth, Jones took it upon himself to narrow the deficit and went yard to lead off the top of the eighth to chip away at the Cougars’ lead, 3-2. Arnold threw one last strikeout before his day ended in lieu of lefty reliever Adam Conley. Conley’s day was short lived. After facing two batters, he was lifted for right-hander Connor Lambert, who ended the inning without further damage.
Freshman third baseman Chance Sossamon sparked a rally in the top of the ninth, smacking a single to left-center. Washington State closer Jamie Johnson would not allow another, stopping the threat for his 10th save of the season.