Cougars Continue Homestand with Illinois-Chicago Series

March 16, 2007

PULLMAN, Wash. -

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Friday Wayne Daman Jr., RHP (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Zach Peterson, RHP (0-2, 4.50 ERA)
Saturday Matt Way, LHP (2-1, 5.19 ERA) vs. Steve Crnkovich, RHP (1-2, 1.80 ERA)
Sunday Nick Ison, RHP (2-2, 7.08 ERA) vs. Ryan Zink, RHP (0-1, 13.50 ERA)

For the fourth time in as many series, WSU dropped the opening game then rebounded the take the finale. Playing their fourth game in as many days and returning the previous night from San Jose, the Cougars fell 4-1 in the opener to Rider. Game Two the Cougars got the bats going as Jared Prince had his first three-hit game of the season and Jeff Miller hit his team-leading fourth home run in an 11-6 win. In the finale, Jayson Miller and Garrett Kimbrel combined on a four-hit shutout in an 11-0 WSU victory. Zach Borba had three hits, three runs scored and three RBIs to lead the Cougar offense.

The Cougars won their second series in three tries by taking two of three against the Spartans. After dropping the opening game 6-3, WSU rallied for wins of 10-3 and 7-4 over the weekend. In Friday's 10-3 victory, Mike Gilbert reached base five times with four hits and a walk and after trailing 3-0, WSU Scored 10 unanswered runs for the win. In Saturday's finale, Jeff Miller had three hits, including a first-inning grand slam, as the Cougars never trailed in the game.

The Flames conclude their season-opening 15-game road trip with a three-game series at Washington State. Illinois-Chicago enters riding a four-game skid having dropped the finale at Tennessee and all three contests at No. 2 Vanderbilt. UIC opened the year by going 1-2 at the Citrus Tournament in Edinburg, Texas before capturing one of three at nationally-ranked Georgia Tech. It took the first two games at Tennessee before its current four-game slide. Larry Gempp Jr. leads the team with a .396 average to go with a team-best 19 hits and 10 RBIs. On the mound Steve Crnkovich is 1-2 with a 1.80 ERA in five appearances while David Cales has a team-leading three saves in five appearances with a 1.50 ERA.

Coming in to the 2007 season, WSU head coach Donnie Marbut made finishing series a point of emphasis. Through the first four series of the season, the point has been received. WSU is 4-0 in series-ending games, winning 6-1 at Northridge, 7-6 at Texas, 7-4 at San Jose State and 11-0 last Sunday against Rider. Last season WSU was 5-7 in series-ending games.

Following his Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week performance in a 3-0 victory over Air Force, freshman Connor Lambert continued his quick start to the 2007 season with another strong performance against Rider. In Sunday's 4-1 loss, Lambert held the Broncs scoreless through five innings, extending his consecutive inning scoreless streak to 14 over his past three games. Entering the sixth against Rider and having allowed just two hits, Brad States led off the innings with a double that struck Lambert in the head, forcing him to leave the game. States came around to score one out later, ending Lambert's scoreless streak and saddling him with the tough-luck loss. Lambert was fine after the game and over his last two outings he is 1-1 with a 0.69 ERA, while recording 16 strikeouts, two walks and five hits in 13 innings pitched.

Tuesday's 11-0 shutout over Rider marks the third time this season the WSU pitching staff has posted a blank in the opponents runs column. In addition to the Rider game, WSU pitched back-to-back shutouts over Southern Utah and Air Force. The last time WSU had three shutouts was during the 2005 season and you have to go back to the 1996 season to find the last time the Cougar staff threw four shutouts.

Following this weekend's three-game home stand, the Cougars head to Spokane for a Tuesday meeting against Gonzaga, the first of four matchups between the two teams this season. WSU is back home to Bailey-Brayton Field as it opens Pacific-10 Conference play with a three-game series against Washington, March 23-25. It will conclude a 10-game stretch in which nine games were played at home.
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