Losing skids? In years past they rarely raised eyebrows when the Washington baseball team was involved. But that was before UW reached its loftiest ranking, No. 7, in a Baseball America poll two weeks ago.
The seventh-ranked Huskies let a one-run lead slip away in the seventh inning Friday night and fell 6-4 to Washington State in front of 1,489 at Husky Ballpark. In the process, they absorbed a third straight loss for the first time this season.
The defeat follows a 7-1 setback at California last Sunday and a 1-0 loss Tuesday at Seattle University for Washington (27-10-1), which still sits atop the Pac-12 standings at 14-5. The Cougars, who had lost their last four, are 18-20 and 8-8, seventh in the conference.
The Huskies scored all of their runs in the second inning, meaning UW has posted runs in just two of its past 27 innings. Meanwhile, the Washington bullpen lost a game for just the second time this season and for the first time since the season opener Feb. 14.
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Cause for concern?
“We’re going through a little bit of a funk offensively,” fifth-year coach Lindsay Meggs said. “Everybody goes through it. Let’s keep it at three games by coming out tomorrow and competing better.”
The Huskies broke loose for four runs in the second on a three-run home run by Austin Rei, his second of the year, and a run-scoring single by Braden Bishop.
The Cougars answered with three runs in the third off starter Jared Fisher on a sacrifice fly by Federal Way grad Nick Tanielu and a two-run triple by Ben Roberts.
UW’s 4-3 lead lasted until the seventh when Trevor Dunlap replaced Fisher. Two walks and a double loaded the bases for Tanielu, who hit a sharp grounder to third. Matt Jackson tagged out Collin Slaybaugh heading to third, but Tanielu beat Jackson’s throw to first by a half step to tie it 4-4.
Another walk, this one by Will Ballowe, reloaded the bases, and Ian Sagdal rocketed a two-run single to center for a 6-4 lead.
The Huskies had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth but could not score. UW got runners aboard in the seventh and eighth but never got one beyond first. WSU closer Ian Hamilton struck out the top of the UW order in the ninth.
“I think we have to be tougher,” Meggs said about his offense. “We have to be a little tougher with two strikes and not get caught up in the moment so much.”
Washington had won 24 of 27 games before this string of losses.
“There’s no way you’re going to go through the entire season without a bump in the road,” Meggs said, “and we’ve hit it. So we just have to deal with it. It would be nice to get it out of the way now.”
• Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a former UW star, threw out Friday night’s first pitch. His catcher: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, in the uncustomary role of receiver.
• UW and WSU play Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.