New-look Huskies take season-opening series

They say it’s the little things that count. And so maybe it’s time for people to believe that times truly are changing for the Washington baseball team.

Not long after the Huskies dropped the finale of a season-opening series at San Diego State on Sunday, they were still disappointed in the outcome of the 10-9 loss to the Aztecs, a game the UW lost on a walk-off hit.

“We’re upset, we just got left on the field,” junior Jacob Lamb said. “We could have had a sweep.”

That being said, there’s not too much the Huskies can be down about. On the road, with 21 newcomers, and in the first games of the season, they showed poise, determination, and an ability to win games. All of those things were not as readily apparent — especially the latter — as the UW limped to a 17-37 record a year ago.

Instead of struggling out of the gate, the Huskies took the first two games of the year, 7-4 and 12-9, before dropping the last contest of the series to the Aztecs (1-2). In doing so, the UW (2-1) found itself already overcoming adversity, as it was down, but came back, in each game.

“It started with just constant energy in the dugout and on the field,” Lamb said. “We have nonstop energy and we can swing the bat a little bit and we have pitching that can keep us in games, so we never think we’re out of a game.”

In the season-opener Friday, the Huskies found themselves down 3-1 in the eighth inning. The UW loaded the bases with no outs, though, and Lamb was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run. After a wild pitch allowed the tying run to cross the plate, freshman Erik Forgione singled to left and gave the Huskies a 5-1 lead that would ultimately hold up.

After giving up a run in the bottom of the frame, the UW padded its lead with two ninth-inning runs. For the Huskies, it was a day for the newcomers. Forgione’s game-winning hit came in his first-career at-bat. Transfer Mac Acker picked up the win in relief, inducing San Diego State designated hitter Jomel Torres into a fly out to end the seventh inning. And in his first game as a Husky, junior college transfer and team captain Joshua Fredendall picked up the save with 1 1/3 innings of work.

The UW quickly got into a 1-0 hole Saturday, but found its groove and eventually overtook the Aztecs during the middle innings. San Diego State fought back, though, and tied the game 8-8 with a three-run eighth inning.

The Huskies showed resiliency, though, and bounced back with four runs in the top of the ninth inning. The scoring outburst was highlighted by a two-run blast from freshman Branden Berry. The San Diego area native had a monstrous first series of his collegiate career, starting each game and going 8-for-13 at the plate with three runs and three RBI.

It is the Sunday finale that will leave a blemish on the UW’s first series of 2012. The Huskies could not capitalize on a six-run seventh inning that erased a 6-2 deficit, and then were not able to hold onto a 9-8 ninth-inning lead.

But even with the tough loss, the Huskies still have plenty to look forward to as they prepare for their home-opener tonight against Seattle U at 5 p.m. at Husky Ballpark.

“You have to watch to understand how exactly opposite it is from last year,” Lamb said. “It’s not the same whatsoever, a whole new team, whole new atmosphere, a 100 percent turnaround.”

Reach Sports Editor Josh Liebeskind at sports@dailyuw.com or on Twitter @jlieb24.

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