WSU Captures Pac-10 Baseball Opener

March 23, 2001

BERKELEY, Calif. -- - Evan Hecker's four hits and solid pitching from Tony Banaszak and Lanakila Niles propelled the Washington State Cougars to an 8-6 victory over host California Friday in WSU's Pacific-10 Conference opening baseball game at Evans Diamond.

Banaszak (3-4) went six innings for the Cougars (9-16 overall, 1-0 Pac-10), then turned the game over to Niles with the Cougars leading 7-5. The Cougar reliever allowed just two hits and one run over the final three frames to earn his first save of the year. Hecker, who had struggled in his last three games, broke out of his slump with a 4-for-5 game, scoring twice. The Cougars pounded 16 hits off two Bear pitchers.

In addition to a solid offensive output, the Cougar defense responded from a four-error game Wednesday at Washington by playing errorless ball against the Bears. WSU also used three double plays to limit California's scoring opportunities.

Trevor Hutchinson (2-5) started for California (14-12, 1-3) and went eight-plus innings while allowing all 16 hits and eight runs. Matt Brown took over after WSU scored one run in the ninth and he recorded the final three outs of the game.

Much of California's offense came off the bat of Clint Hoover, who belted a grand slam home run in the third inning that gave the Bears a short-lived 5-3 lead. Spencer Wyman had a run scoring single in the second inning and Jeff Dragicevich accounted for California's final run in the ninth with a one-out single.

Just like they did in two early-week games at Washington, the Cougars scored three times in the first three innings. In the first frame Bookie Gates continued his solid plate work with a run-scoring single that brought home Hecker. In the third Tanner Kahler plated two more runs with a single to the gap in right center, scoring Tyson Boston and Gates with a pair of unearned runs.

Following the Bears' four runs in the third, WSU responded with their own four-run rally the next inning to take a 7-5 lead.

Two of California's five errors helped WSU's production in the fourth inning. Hecker and Mike Knight, who hit back-to-back singles to opening the innings, both came home on Stefan Bailie's grounder that was miss-handled by the Bear shortstop. Later in the inning Jon Baeder doubled home Bailie and Justin Williams followed with a triple to score Baeder.

A double by Boston in the ninth scored Gates with WSU's final run and also sent the Cal starter to the showers in favor of Brown.

The two teams continue the three-game series Saturday in a 1:00 p.m. game that will be televised live by FOX Sports Net. Justin Cayetano is expected to start on the mound for WSU.

WSU 102 400 001 - 8 16 0
CAL 014 000 001 - 6 13 5
Tony Banaszak, Lanakila Niles and Jon Baeder.
Trevor Hutchinson, Matt Brown (9) and Spencer Wyman.
W - Banaszak (3-4). L - Hutchinson (2-5). Save - Niles (1). HR - Hoover.
T - 3:13. A - 161.
WSU Hits - Hecker 4, Knight, Bailie, Gates 2, Boston 2, Baeder 2, Williams 2, Kahler 2.
UW Hits - Conley, Horwitz 2, Hoover, Jackson 2, White, Wyman 3, Meyer, Dragicevich 2.
E - Conley 2, Meyer, Dragicevish 2. 2B - Boston, Baeder, Jackson, Wyman. 3B - Williams.

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