This Week in Cougar Baseball

THE TOP-RANKED Gonzaga basketball team is drawing national headlines as the NCAA tournament gets under way, but the only Gonzaga team drawing Donnie Marbut's attention right now is the Bulldogs baseball club.

"They have a baseball team?" WSU basketball broadcaster Bud Nameck joked Monday on the "Cougar Calls" radio show.

"I didn't know they had any other sport," Marbut deadpanned. "They were always a baseball school if you ask me."

The Cougars (11-7), coming off their first-ever series win at perennial national powerhouse Arizona State, open a nine-game homestand Tuesday against Gonzaga (11-6-1). The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Bailey-Brayton Field.

The Brown Bears (1-6) of Providence, R.I., make the long trip west for single non-league games Friday through Monday.

WSU opened Pac-12 play by pounding 2012 second-team All-American Trevor Williams (the national co-leader last year with 12 wins) in a 15-4 rout last Friday. The Cougars lost 4-1 to freshman phenom Ryan Kellogg on Saturday, then scored 11 or more runs for the fourth time in six games Sunday in an 11-8 win.

The Packard Stadium crowds ranged from 2,425 to 3,467. Arizona State (12-4-1) slipped from 14th to 20th in Baseball America's Top 25 poll Monday.

"The team that wins the Pac-12 championship this year will be the team that plays the best on the road," Marbut said. "It's (Packard is) a difficult place to play, and it's definitely a good start for us."

The young Cougars continue to lead the Pac-12 in hitting (.320) and home runs (14), and they're tied for first in doubles (43).

Freshman second baseman Trek Stemp ranks second in batting at .406; redshirt freshman third baseman Nick Tanielu is third at .405; and sophomore designated hitter Yale Rosen stands fifth at .384. Rosen is second in homers with five.

Marbut said new hitting coach Pat Waer "had an unbelievable plan with our offense" against Williams. "We just decided we were going to be as aggressive as possible."

WSU's torrid hitting has covered up for the Cougars' last-place earned run average (4.35). The Cougars are eighth in fielding at .964.

Marbut made certain he enjoyed himself off the field as well as on the field last week when he followed up on Nameck's suggestion and visited the famous Don & Charley's restaurant in Scottsdale. Marbut dropped by the popular baseball hangout with former Washington State and major league pitcher Tom Niedenfuer.

"It was just unbelievable," Marbut said. "I didn't know you could put that much memorabilia in one place."

Marbut's love for baseball brings back memories of legendary Cougars coach Bobo Brayton, a good friend of Moos.

"Cougar baseball has a great legacy, a great tradition," Moos said. "It's fun and very fulfilling for me to see it get back to where it was once was. I like the direction we're going."

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