Conference Tournament?  Redhawks Need a Miracle!

Jarrod Billig fanned a career-high eight batters Friday at UTRGV.  Courtesy: Sarah Finney

 

Seattle University flew half way across the country to the Lone Star state of Texas last week, looking for that opportunity to increase their win total against the WAC conference leaders the University of Texas Rio-Grande Valley.  The Redhawks still had visions of the conference tournament dancing in their heads as the opportunity stood before them.  All they had to do was win at least 2 of 3 games, certainly a possibility for the Redhawks.  After a long journey Thursday to Edinburg, Texas, they arrived Thursday evening, just in time to get enough relaxation before their 3-game series starting on Friday under the hot Texas sun.

Friday night began perhaps the most important series of the 2019 season.  Sophomore Jarrod Billig took the mound to open game one of the 3-game series.  Jarrod Billig showed up to perform as he continued his domination of the WAC, perhaps earning him comeback player of the year of the WAC?  Billig would go 6 1/3 innings, another quality start.  He would give up 3 runs (left in the 7th with only 2 runs allowed but 1 runner on base).  He would strike out 8 batters and allow 3 walks and 6 hits, a phenomenal performance by the young sensation.  After 121 pitches, a rare feat in college baseball, he as was pulled in the 7th inning, perhaps replaced by the wrong pitcher, but who knew.

The Redhawks went up 2-0 over the 1st place Vaqueros on a two-run single by Julian Kodama.  In the bottom of the 6th, the Vaqueros would tie it at 2.  In the top of the 7th, the Redhawks would go up 3-2 on a sacrifice fly by Julian Kodama.  In the 7th, Jarrod would give up a lead off single.  After a passed ball by C Justin Mazzone, he would strike out that batter.  Alex Jemal, who had been struggling over the last month or so, would come in the game hoping to change his luck.  Alex would allow that batter and 4 other Vaqueros come around and score with out getting an out.  After the inning finally finished, the Vaqueros had taken a 7-3 lead that would remain the same at the end.

Game one went to the Vaqueros.  Stars of the game were Jarrod Billig who pitched an incredible ballgame and Julian Kodama for driving in the 3 runs.

Game 2 was on Saturday afternoon.  Freshman Josh Thompson took the mound, probably his most ineffective performance of the season.  Seattle University would take an early lead of 1-0 on an RBI single by Connor O’Brien in the top of the first.  In the bottom half of the inning, Josh would give up 4 runs.  He would survive the inning but be pulled after one inning with the Vaqueros up 4-1.  The Vaqueros of UTRGV would plate 3 runs in the fourth inning to go up 7-1.    The Redhawks would cut the lead to 7-3 in the top of the fifth on a RBI triple by Jacob Prater.  Over the next few innings we would have a ballgame as the bullpen of the Redhawks held the Vaqueros in check.  In the top of inning number eight, the Redhawks would score 3 runs to cut the lead to 7-6.  It could have been a big inning, but they were held in check.  Justin Mazzone had a 2-run single to highlight the inning.  In the bottom of the 8th the Vaqueros would score 8 runs off two Redhawk pitchers.  Seattle University would score one late run, but it wasn’t enough.

Final score was 15-7 as the Redhawks again fell to the 1st place Vaqueros.

Sunday’s start time was 10am, a getaway for the Redhawks.  They were hoping to sneak out of Texas with one win under their belts.  Tyler Yeh started for the Redhawks.  No, it wasn’t his best outing, but he kept his ball club in the game.  Seattle University would take a 2-0 lead after a ½ inning on RBI singles by Connor O’Brien and Chase Wells.  The Vaqueros would score one in the 2nd inning to cut the lead.  In inning five, the Redhawks would go up 3-1 on a solo home-run by seldom used OF Max Werner.  Yeh would give up 4 Vaquero runs in inning six as they went up 5-3.  Freshman sensation Desmond Parisotto would take over in inning 7.  Seattle University would plate three more runs in inning eight to go up 6-5 on RBI hits by Jake Taylor, Julian Kodama and Kyler Murphy.  Parisotto would allow the Vaqueros to tie it up in inning 9.

In another one-run loss, the Vaqueros would walk it off in inning 10, perhaps Parisotto should have been pulled sooner but after Saturday’s defeat they were at a skeleton crew.  Parisotto threw a gem considering the circumstances.  Stars of the game were Tyler Yeh and Connor O’Brien who had 3 hits in the loss.  Yeh gave up 5 runs but 3 were earned.  Seattle University committed a whopping 5 errors in the game (8 in the series).  This has been a concern all season, but to commit 5 is unacceptable.

Seattle University flew back to the state of Washington to finish their 4-game road trip at the home of the Huskies on the other side of Lake Washington.  UDUB had beaten them earlier in the year as Seattle University was looking for redemption.  Freshman Josh Thompson took the mound again for the Redhawks.  He shut down the Dawgs for the 1st two innings.  In inning 3, he got wild.  He hit two batters and walked another which lead to a grand-slam home run by Dawg’s DH Joe Wainhouse who the Redhawks had held in check in their previous encounter.  In inning 4, the Dawgs increased their lead to 6-0.  Redhawks player Michael Ciancio would belt a solo home-run in inning 5 to cut the lead to 6-1 but that is all that would happen.  Seattle University would fall to 9-34 (4-14) on the season with 9 conference games left.

Seattle University still has a shot at the conference tournament, but they literally will need to go 9-0 and have things fall their way.  It certainly is possible, but chances were small.  Chicago State and New Mexico State come to Bannerwood the next two weekends before they end their season on the road against Northern Colorado. Is there a chance for the conference tournament?  Absolutely there is, but right now it’s time to play spoiler and play for next season.  The talent is there, the opportunity for the conference tourney is there, but Seattle University is better off playing out the season.  If they make the tournament, outstanding, but expectations should but kept on a game to game basis.

Come out and support your Redhawks over the final two weekends.  There are seniors whose’ careers are coming to an end.  Cheer them on.  Come cheer on our future Redhawks Nation.  So many bright spots.  2019 isn’t over, but the future is so bright for 2020.  Jake Prizina is coming back this weekend.  He will be picked in June’s MLB draft, so we need to fill those stands and come out to see him pitch. I can’t stress this enough Redhawk Nation.  If you don’t know who Jake is, well there’s no excuse not to come out to Bannerwood to see him pitch in person.  No one will be disappointed.

Together We Soar!!

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News Reporter
Brian joined the SSU in 2017 and covers the Everett AquaSox. I'm a graduate of Washington State University and I'm a die-hard baseball fan.