Did Somebody Say Playoffs?  Cougar Sweep Keeps the Dream Alive!

Julian Kodama’s walk-off RBI-single gave Seattle U a 5-4 win over Chicago State.  Courtesy: John Shaffer

 

Friday afternoon Seattle University looked to their final nine games as a chance for redemption by being spoilers and who knows, maybe make the WAC playoffs.  The Chicago State Cougars had flown into town for the 3-game battle in Bellevue.  Chicago State still had a chance to make the playoffs too.  The Cougars, just like the Redhawks, needed to win out hoping to get that final sixth spot.  Both teams came ready to battle Friday evening.  Seattle University’s starting pitcher was future ace Jarrod Billig.  Redhawk Nation saw this as an easy opportunity to steal game one.  First pitch was just before 4pm under the sunny skies of Bannerwood Park.

Billig would retire the first 6 Cougar batters in order without giving up a hit.  In the bottom of inning two, the Redhawks bats awoke from their dormant sleep, and we would soon find out that their bats would stay wide awake the entire series.  Seattle University would go up 2-0 on a two-run double by hot hitting 1B Jake Taylor.  In the 3rd inning, Chicago State would get their first base runner via the walk.  That didn’t bother Redhawk starting pitcher Jarrod Billig who would retire the side around the walk.  The Redhawk crowd would go nuts in the bottom half of inning three.  OF Kyle Sherick would reach base via fielder’s choice.  He would steal second base and score on a RBI single by SS Connor O’Brien.  The play at the plate would be close but Kyle would be safe on the headfirst slide, a slide that would perhaps ignite this ball club.  The Redhawk bench went bonkers!  Both teams would go scoreless in inning 4 with the Cougars getting their 1st base hit.  In the fifth, Chicago State would tie the game at three on 4 hits and one big Redhawk error.  Seattle University said, “So What”!  They plated two runs on RBI singles by C Kyler Murphy and Connor O’Brien.  With the score 5-3, the Redhawks took the lead that they would never relinquish.

Jarrod Billig would pitch two more scoreless innings to finish the evening after inning 7.  Billig’s threw 99 pitches, 70 of them for strikes!  He would give up three runs on six hits while walking one and striking out tow Chicago State batters.  Another quality start for the future Redhawk ace.  Seattle University would score 7 more runs in innings seven and eight to take a 12-3 lead.  Some highlights over those two innings were two RBI singles by Jake Taylor and a pinch-hit 2-run double by Michael Ciancio.  Final score at the end of the evening was 12-3 Seattle University as they took game one.

Game two Seattle University threw veteran Tyler Yeh out to start game two.  The Redhawks would quickly go up 1-0 after inning one on a sacrifice fly by SS Connor O’Brien.  That would be the only run that the Redhawks would score off Dylan Cumming who was dominant threw 7 innings.  Yeh wasn’t himself as he gave up 4 runs and was pulled in the fourth inning.  Freshman sensation Desmond Parisotto and Max Cuenco would pitch the final five innings and shut down Chicago state on 2 hits and 0 runs.  A performance by the bullpen at the right place and right time.  It would come down to inning nine as the Redhawks trailed 4-1.

The Redhawks from earlier in the season perhaps would have shut down but there was confidence in these young men.  With the top of the order coming up, the words “Let’s go Redhawks” were chanted as 2B Jacob Prater came to the plate.  He would reach base being hit by a pitch.  Prater would make it to second on a wild pitch and score on a RBI single by Kyler Murphy.  Austin Lively would return from the IL and pinch run.  He would later score on a Cougar throwing error.  Kyle Sherick would tie the ballgame on another Cougar error.  With a tie ballgame and with two outs and runners in scoring position, 3B Julian Kodama would plate the 5th run on a walk-off single.  Just like that, the Redhawks had a walk-off 5-4.  The team stormed the field and surrounded the hero.  Seattle University would secure their 1st series win of the season.

With 7 games to go, there still was a chance as the Redhawks were slowly climbing that ladder.  They truly believed that by season’s end they would be in 6th place with a berth in the WAC playoffs.

Sunday afternoon, Ace Jake Prizina returned from a long layoff due to a severe injury.  Redhawk nation was happy to have him back closing out the series finale.  Chances seemed good that they would secure the sweep of the Cougars with six games to go on the season.  Prizina was a little “rusty” as Head Coach Donny Harrel stated.  But that was expected.  Priz would last 3 1/3 innings tossing 76 pitches.  He would allow five hits on four runs and four walks.  The 4 runs would be scored in inning one.  Seattle University would score 9 runs over the first three innings to take a 9-4 lead that they would never let Chicago State catch up too.  1B Jake Taylor would plate the first run on a RBI single while DH Justin Mazzone would plate 2 more on another single to cut the lead to 4-3.  In inning two, OF Kyle Sherick would put the Redhawks up 6-4 on a base hit.

Freshman Josh Thompson would take over for Prizina and shut down the Cougars over 2 2/3 innings, a performance of recognition by the young man.  He gave up zero hits an struck out four batters.  Four Redhawk pitchers would pitch the final two innings, giving up 5 runs in the process.  Seattle University would score four runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to go up 13-5.  Chase Wells and Julian Kodama would plate 3 runs on RBI singles in the 8th inning.  Pitcher Alden Huschle would come in to nail down the final two outs in inning nine to stop the bleeding.  Seattle University secured the sweep with the 13-9 victory.

Seattle University’s record is currently at 12-34 (7-14 WAC).  They are currently tied for 6th in the WAC Conference with two other teams.  If the season were to end, they would not qualify because of the tie-breakers.  There are 2 teams behind them, both with a chance.  Next weekend is a big series.  If they can sweep 1st Place New Mexico State, a tall order to take on, Redhawk Nation has got to like their chances.  The starting pitching, the defense, the offense and some of the bullpen are coming together at the right moments.  With a starting trio of Jake Prizina, Jarrod Billig and Desmond Parisotto, the Redhawks got to like their chances against anyone.  Friday’s game is at 10am which makes it difficult to fill those seats but there’s no excuse we shouldn’t fill the stands on Saturday and Sunday Redhawk Nation for the final home stand of the season.

They need the support and we can provide that for them.  Hope to see many of you there.  Let’s go Redhawks!!  Make it happen!

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.