This Week in Cougar Baseball

This Week in Cougar Baseball

WASHINGTON STATE will be greeted by hot weather and a hot opponent when they return to Bailey-Brayton Field on Friday to take on USC and kick off Baseball Reunion Weekend. The Cougars' post-season aspirations appear to be on life support, but they can stay in the hunt with a strong homestand this weekend against USC and next weekend against last-place Utah.

USC has won eight consecutive Pac-12 Conference games to pull into a third-place tie with Arizona State at 12-9. The Trojans, 24-18 overall, had won nine straight overall before dropping a 6-2 nonconference decision to UC Irvine on Tuesday.

Weather.com predicts the high temperature in Pullman will reach 76 Friday. Games are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. All games will be broadcast on Pullman radio and video streamed live for free at www.wsucougars.com.

The Cougars have lost eight of 10, scoring two or fewer runs in six of those games.

"We've got to get one big hit, gotta make one more play," WSU coach Donnie Marbut said.

Marbut, suspended six games by the Pac-12 after an angry confrontation with umpires April 18 at Oregon, rejoins the team Saturday. Marbut said he watched last weekend's games at Washington on television, including a 6-4 win Friday and 2-1 and 2-0 losses Sunday.

"We just couldn't put things together to take them out," Cougars third baseman Nick Tanielu said after Sunday's nightcap.

"Sunday was probably the most gut-wrenching day of my life," Marbut said.

No one has ever questioned Marbut's passion for baseball in general and Cougars baseball in particular. Despite a disappointing season (18-22, 8-10) for his experienced team, Marbut reiterated last week his desire to continue coaching at WSU for years to come.

CF.C erred in reporting last week that Marbut's contract is up for renewal at the end of the season. A WSU spokesperson said Marbut's current contract runs through next season. Marbut said last week he was uncertain about his contract status.

Pitching coach Gregg Swenson has been serving as WSU's temporary head coach.

"He did a really good job," Marbut said. "I wish we would have won ‘em all when I was gone. I never would have come back!"

For the fourth straight week, the Cougars are facing a club ranked in the Top 25 in at least one national poll. USC stands 24th in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll.

USC senior first baseman Jake Hernandez, the Pac-12 Player of the Week, is batting .545 (12-for-22) during a five-game hitting streak. Junior right-hander Wyatt Strahan (4-3, 3.42), the Friday starter, has thrown 20 straight innings of scoreless ball.

Hernandez, who has just six extra-base hits (all doubles) among his 49 hits, is batting .371 overall and in Pac-12 games. His conference-only batting average ranks third, one spot ahead of WSU's Ben Roberts (.370).

MARBUT ANNOUNCED a change in WSU's starting rotation for the weekend. Joe Pistorese still goes on Friday, but Jason Monda moves up from Sunday to Saturday, switching with Tanner Chleborad.

NOTABLE NOTES:
Reunion activities include a pregame barbecue and post-game dinner Saturday, which will be Eileen Brayton Appreciation Day, honoring the wife of legendary WSU baseball coach Bobo Brayton. To register for the barbecue ($8) and/or dinner ($30), CLICK HERE

The fraternity or sorority with the most members in attendance during the first two games this weekend will be treated to a free barbecue meal at Sunday's game.

CougPals who bring a flyer will be admitted free Friday, when the Family Fun Pack is always available for $20 (four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas). Saturday is Student Appreciation Day, when students with WSU sports passes receive free hot dogs and sodas and are eligible for prizes and ZZU points rewards.

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