Put the final game of the 2013 season for Washington State (23-32, 9-21 Pac-12) Cougar baseball in the books. Then close the book.
The No. 3 ranked Oregon State (45-10, 24-6 Pac-12) Beavers placed the Cougs back on the shelf taking the final two games of their series in Corvallis.
Reflecting on the two losses WSU suffered in Corvallis, they were emblematic of how the season went for the Cougs.
Saturday afternoon sophomore Joe Pistorese (5-5) locked up in a pitching duel with OSU freshman phenom Andrew Moore (12-1). The Beavs managed to get a run in their half of the first, then both teams offenses were silenced by a couple of outstanding arms.
With two-outs in the seventh, Pistorese seemed to be battling his way out of a jam staged by a pair of Beaver singles. Coach Donnie Marbut walked out to the mound offering words meant to motivate. Instead, the very next pitch Pistorese tossed was his only mistake of the day.
There are days like that where a guy throws 110 pretty well placed pitches but the last one ends up being the difference in a ball game.
Instead of a 1-0 ballgame up for grabs, Dylan Davis jumped all over a fastball left high on over the plate launching it deep over the wall. WSU left fielder Adam Nelubowich took a lazy turn to drift back tracking the tape-measure homerun blast off Davis’ bat.
Moore took advantage of the 4-0 lead to pound the strike zone and record the final 9-outs.
Sunday was a bit different, yet the teams produced the same outcome.
Oregon State manhandled WSU sophomore Scott Simon early putting up a run in the first and adding three more in the second. Down 4-0 once again, the Cougs bounced back in the third with three of their own runs highlighted by frosh Trek Stemp leading off the inning by sending his first collegiate homerun deep.
A bases-loaded 2-RBI single by junior Collin Slaybaugh gave the Cougs their first lead since the top of the 11th Friday night.
The Cougs carried a 6-4 lead into the seventh inning when the wheels came off the wagon.
Junior Jason Monda came out of the dugout after starting the game as the designated hitter to take over pitching duties. Monda was outstanding in relief retiring the first 10 batters he faced. The next two Beavers were a different story crushing back-to-back round-trippers to knot the score at 6-6.
Oregon State proved why they will be a favorite to go all the way to the College World Series in Omaha and capture the national championship. The Beavers scratched out the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to take the game, the series and outright Pac-12 Championship.
For Coach Marbut and the Cougs, it will be a busy off season. Washington State has a talented nucleus which showed flashes of what they are capable of. But they lacked the focus necessary to be consistent on a game-to-game basis.
For example, WSU played flawless defensive ball Friday night in their extra-inning win over one of the best college teams in the country…on Oregon State’s home field. The next day one pitch proved to be the difference between a win and a loss. And in their final game of the 2013 season the Cougs managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The good news for Cougar fans is the deficiency of the 2013 squad has been a strength of Coach Marbut teams in the past.
Washington State will have great pitching, a host of outstanding bats and seven months to refine their play in the field.