A team with tremendous potential, Washington State Cougar baseball (20-20, 7-11 Pac-12) continues to work on learning how to win Pac-12 ball games.
The conference is loaded with several of the elite teams in college baseball this season. One of the best, the UCLA Bruins (27-13, 11-7 Pac-12), visited Pullman this past weekend and proved why they were ranked No. 7 nationally.
WSU lost the series opener Friday night in extra innings 7-6 wasting a tremendous comeback effort. When a team like UCLA jumps out to a 5-0 lead early on, they typically deny opponents any and all chances for a comeback.
"“We dug ourselves a hole early,” lamented WSU Coach Donnie Marbut. “Give our guys credit for battling back, but we didn’t play good baseball.”"
Coach Marbut grimaced early watching his team make three errors which contributed to falling behind.
The play of the Cougs was just as frustrating to watch Saturday afternoon.
"“We fell behind early and against (UCLA starter Nick) Vander Tuig…you are asking a lot to come back,” Coach Marbut recapped during his post mortem. “We have not played clean baseball defensively for a while and that has hurt us.”"
Vander Tuig definitely had his good stuff Saturday going the distance while pitching 8 ⅔ innings of shutout ball and assuring his team a series win on the road.
The Cougs got up off the mat Sunday afternoon and turned in a rocky performance but got the job done in front of nearly 1,000 loyal Crimson and Gray fans on hand at Bailey-Brayton Field. Perhaps my adjective describing WSU should be “Rocky”.
The Cougar defense contributed 5-errors and nearly booted the game in process by giving the Bruins too many chances to knock them out.
Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, WSU posted a run in each of their last two at-bats to earn a victory.
"“Our pitching was really good today,” Coach Donnie Marbut said. “You can’t say enough about our bullpen, but I thought Scott Simon gave us a good start as well. Our defense did not make it easy on our pitchers.”"
Jason Monda came on in the ninth to throw an inning of shutdown relief and earn his first collegiate save.
It doesn’t get any easier this coming weekend for Washington State when they host the Pac-12 second place Oregon Ducks ranked No. 6 in the country.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES:
– Great fan promotion for the series opener 6pm Friday night in Pullman with No. 6 Oregon. Take advantage of the Family Pack and get 4-tickets, 4-hot dogs and 4-drinks for just $20. Should be an outstanding night for baseball with the weather in the high-60’s and clear skies forecasted.