After an extended hiatus, “The Dusty Trail” is back as the official blog of the Tri-City Dust Devils. Also missing for a while was baseball at Gesa Stadium, but that changed last Tuesday as it hosted the inaugural Cougar Diamond Classic. Being the first Cougar Diamond Classic it was fitting that the game matched Washington’s two state schools and rivals Washington State and Washington. After a couple of days to take in the game and think about it, the game was a success.
The stadium was packed with a sellout crowd of 3,714 fans, the majority of which supporting the Cougars, which have a large following in the Tri-City area. For a Tuesday night in late May, drawing a packed house to watch one of the less-followed college sports in a town where both teams are a couple hours away is a great testament to the support of fans in the area.
Although both teams would readily admit that their seasons have not gone to plan (WSU is 24-27 while UW is 17-34) they came out and put on an exciting game with all the heart you would expect of a in-state rivalry. A low-scoring game, Washington’s pitching and timely hitting earned them the 4-2 victory in the first non-conference game between the two schools since 2004. They ended the season 2-2 against each other with Washington State taking two of three in Pullman earlier in the season.
The game featured two Tri-Citians on the Washington State roster, sophomore outfielder Brett Jacobs (Richland H.S.) and senior pitcher Chad Arnold (Southridge H.S.). Arnold, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers last season but decided to return to school, was injured for the game and his only appearance was a mention to the crowd which gave him a nice ovation. Jacobs started at designated hitter for the Cougs and went 1-for-3 in the game and also received loud rounds of applause before each at-bat.
With the Cougar Diamond Classic finished Tri-City baseball fans can turn their attention to the upcoming MLB First-Year Player Draft, which takes place on Monday June 6th through the 8th. The Dust Devils roster will likely be filled with quite a few of the Colorado Rockies draftees on the day and the draft will provide a glimpse of what could be to come in the upcoming season.