The Cougars (35-20) played at Baum Stadium three times last year, losing all three games to Arkansas despite playing well in the season-opening series for both teams. Having that familiarity has helped the Cougars this week.
"It's just nice to be somewhere you've been before," Washington State coach Donnie Marbut said. "You know the surface and how the ballpark plays."
The Cougars used that knowledge to their advantage Friday night, using a Cody Bartlett two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal an 8-6 win over Kansas State. The win pits the old foes Arkansas and Washington State once again tonight at 7:05 p.m. in what is expected to be a packed house.
"I think the best part about coming here if for me that it's the greatest college venue around," Marbut said. "I love this place. The Arkansas people do just a phenomenal job and Coach (Dave) Van Horn's clubs are fun clubs to play - not so much for us the last four ballgames. But the people here just do it right and that's why I love being here."
Arkansas (41-18) took all four games from the Cougars last season, including a 10-3 win in the first game of the NCAA Norman Regional. It was the first in six straight postseason wins for the Razorbacks, who eventually advanced to the College World Series.
"Last year their Omaha run is something we want to emulate," Washington State senior Matt Fanelli said.
"Having the chance to play them at their home field is going to be a good test for us. We're really excited about it.
"Baum Stadium is one of the coolest places in college baseball to play. We've played all over in our four years at Texas and Arizona State on Friday nights, and nothing compares to Baum Stadium. We're really looking forward to putting it out there against the Razorbacks."
Washington State has been one of the hottest teams in college baseball over the last month, winning 13 of its last 16 games. The Cougars will have to find a way to slow down the Arkansas bats that set a school-record with nine home runs in its 19-7 win over Grambling State Friday.
Washington State will send sophomore left-hander Adam Conley (5-3, 3.13 ERA) to the mound while Arkansas will counter with all-SEC lefty Drew Smyly (8-1, 2.54).
"It's one of the best venues in college baseball and this is what you live for as a college player is to play in front of 10,000 people at a great venue," Barlett said. "They're a good team and we're a good team, so it should be a great game."
Saturday might not be the last time the two teams meet this weekend as they could meet as many as three times in this regional. If Saturday is the last meeting they won't have to wait too long until their next meeting. The two teams are tentatively scheduled to meet again for a series in 2012, and of course there is always next postseason.
NCAA REGIONAL TICKET
Arkansas (41-18) vs. Washington State (35-20)
When: Tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Where: Baum Stadium
Radio: Razorback Sports Network
Series Record: Arkansas leads 5-2
Pitchers: Arkansas - LHP Drew Smyly (8-1, 2.54); Washington State - LHP Adam Conley (5-3, 3.13)