Spartans Take Series Opener, 7-5, In 11-Inning Thriller

Andre Mercurio drove in the winning run with a base hit in the 11th inning.

April 16, 2015

Final Stats

PULLMAN, Wash. -- San José State's baseball team plated two runs in the top of the 11th inning to defeat Washington State, 7-5, in a thriller Thursday night at Bailey-Brayton Field.

With the game tied 5-5 in the top of the 11th, Michael Breen led off with a line drive base hit just past the outstretched glove of WSU second baseman Shane Matheny. After Kyle Morrison bunted him over to second, Andre Mercurio bounced a single through the right side to plate Breen with the go-ahead run. Corey Olivet then followed up with a sac fly to reach the final 7-5 margin.

"The impressive thing was Washington State tied that game up in the ninth, they have a chance to win it and we got out of it. Then they bring their closer in and he mows us down in the 10th," said Spartans' head coach Dave Nakama. "That was a great job by our guys. We walked nine guys and made three errors and still won the game; that's pretty resilient."

San José State (10-27) rode the right arm of freshman Turtle Kuhaulua (1-2) down the stretch. The Kapaa, Hawaii, native picked up the first win of his career by tossing the final 6.0 innings and striking out 11 Cougars -- both season highs.

"He was really good. He could've lost it in that ninth inning but he gathered himself and did a great job," Nakama said. "He gave us an opportunity to get another at-bat, and that was huge. For our guys to come back like that, that was really good to see and says a lot about our them."

At the plate, Mercurio (3-6, two runs, two RBIs) and Ozzy Braff (2-6, two RBIs) had multi-hit games for the Spartans. Olivet (1-5, run, sac fly, RBI), Brett Bautista (1-4, sac bunt, two RBIs), Shane Timmons (1-5), David Campbell (1-3, run, walk), Michael Breen (1-1, run) and Morrison (1-1, two runs, sac bunt, three walks) rounded out San José State's 11-hit night.

Washington State (18-18) opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the third off Spartans' starter Jonathan Hernandez. Two base hits followed by a walk loaded the bases for Brennan Kaleiwahea, who singled into the right center gap to bring in two runs. The runner at first on the play, Matheny, rounded third and was within 15 feet of crossing the plate with another run before Kaleiwahea was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

The Spartans responded in the fifth with a three-run rally to take the lead. A one-out walk to Campbell followed by a seeing-eye single from Morrison put runners at the corners for Mercurio, who brought Campbell in with a bunt single. Two batters later, Braff singled through the left side to tie the game, and Bautista followed up with an RBI single of his own to give San José State its first lead of the night.

In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff walk by Ross Slaney came around to score on a throwing error by Campbell to tie the game at 3-3. After another walk, Kuhaulua entered in relief of Slaney with two on and none out and retired the next three Cougars to get out of the jam, including two via strikeout.

San José State carried the momentum into the next frame, plating a pair of runs on two hits to take a 5-3 lead. Morrison walked to lead off the inning, Olivet dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line for a hit, and Braff brought the go-ahead run home with his second RBI single in as many at-bats. With runners at the corner and one out, Bautista laid down a safety squeeze to bring in Olivet.

After the Cougars cut the lead in half with a run in the seventh, the Spartans came within an out of winning the game, but a pinch-hit double by Cooper Elliott forced extra innings.  

The Spartans will send Josh Nashed (3-3, 5.59) to the mound Friday night at 6 p.m. in the second game of the series. Washington State has not yet announced a starter.

San Jose State 7, Washington State 5 (Apr 16, 2015 at Pullman, Wash.)
San Jose State...... 000 030 200 02 - 7 11 3 (10-27)
Washington State.... 002 001 101 00 - 5 10 0 (18-18)
Pitchers: San Jose State - Hernandez, Jonathan; SLANEY, Ross(5); KUHAULUA, Turtle(6) and
Stefanki, Joe. Washington State - Hartnett, S; Bower, M(6); Triece, S(7); Hamilton, I(10) and
Kaleiwahea; Hancock, JJ.
Win-KUHAULUA, Turtle(1-2) Loss-Hamilton, I(0-2) T-3:35 A-478
Weather: Clear and pleasant, 59 degrees
SLANEY faced 3 batters in the 6th.