Washington State Cougar (18-15, 5-7 Pac-12) baseball has fallen into another funk over the past two weeks. The Cougs have dropped their last two Pac-12 series, losing two out of three to Utah and No. 25 Arizona.
Last Friday WSU looked as if they might overcome bad weather and their own inconsistent play when hosting Arizona in Pullman. They jumped out to a 7-4 lead through 7-innings when the game was halted because of rain. Play resumed Saturday at noon where the Cougs handily dispatched the ‘Cats by a final of 9-5 to retain some momentum going into the regularly scheduled contest about an hour later.
Like the ever-changing weather on the Palouse, Washington State was nothing short of gloomy on the field. To be fair, pitching dominated for both ball clubs who combined for just a total of 11-hits. Arizona was able to do what it took to earn a 6-5 victory.
Sunday would be another day and certain reason for optimism among Cougar fans. Scott Simon would get the start coming off outstanding work the week before which earned him Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week. Arizona tagged Simon for 3-runs to open the game. A couple of innings later WSU leveled the score at 3-3 in their half of the third. The ‘Cats solved Simon in the sixth, plating 4-runs with 4-hits. That rally defined the difference between the two ball clubs. Arizona used timely hitting and execution marked by a sacrifice fly and successful squeeze play.
Looking back to the series with Utah, the Cougs could have easily swept the three games. Coach Donnie Marbut got solid starts from his hurlers. But it took a complete game 5-hit shutout by Simon to salvage the only victory in Salt Lake City.
The woes for Washington State of late are easy to point out. They are not producing at the plate coupled with miscues in the field giving opponents the opportunity to put unearned runs up on the scoreboard.
Post game comments by Coach Marbut Sunday have had a familiar refrain since conference play has begun.
"“We didn’t play with a lot of intensity today,” Cougar Head Coach Donnie Marbut said. “It didn’t seem like the game was important enough to us.”"
If WSU is going to make a run to propel themselves into postseason play, they need to bring their best from here on out.
The next four games for the Cougs will be on the road. They travel up to Spokane to take on Gonzaga Tuesday then head south to Berkeley for a 3-game Pac-12 series with Cal.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
– Nick Tanielu continues flirting with a Williamesque season, batting .402 on the year which is tops in the Pac-12. He leads the conference with a slugging percentage of .626.
– Jason Monda is tied for the Pac-12 home run lead with 6, closely followed by teammate Yale Rosen with 5. Monda also has been outstanding on the mound with a 0.51ERA over 17.2 innings and 9 appearances.
– Joe Pistorese has come on strong in his role as number two in Coach Marbut’s rotation and is currently ranked 7th in the conference with a 2.23ERA.
– WSU slipped behind Arizona to No. 2 in the Pac-12 in team batting with a .309 average
– The Cougs remain near the bottom of the conference in both pitching and fielding ranking ninth in both categories.