This Week in Cougar Baseball

THE WASHINGTON STATE baseball club takes a break from Pac-12 Conference play this week. The Cougars hope they can give themselves a break in the process. WSU has played eight consecutive games decided by one or two runs, and 15 of the past 16 games have been that close. Only four of Washington State's 21 games have been decided by more than two runs.

The Cougars have followed a five-game winning streak with a three-game losing skid in which they have been outscored by a total of four runs. WSU is 5-5 in one-run games, 4-3 in two-run games and 9-12 overall heading into a four-game homestand with San Jose State (7-18) that is scheduled to start Thursday.

Plenty of rain is in the forecast for Pullman this week, but the wet stuff might not be able to cool off Jason Monda. The senior's hitting woes remain a concern, but he threw 7 1-3 shutout innings last Friday at UCLA (ranked as high as 14th) in a 2-0 win.

"Jason was awesome," WSU coach Donnie Marbut said. "He was mixing his pitches very well."

Monda (1-1, 2.45), tentatively scheduled to start Thursday, has inherited the No. 1 starter role originally claimed by Scott Simon. Monda did not pitch in college until last year, when he was used primarily as a reliever.

Simon was banished to the bullpen after two rough starts to open the season. The big right-hander has tossed 7 2-3 innings of shutout relief the past two times out, including 5 2/3 innings Monday at Cal State Northridge.

"Scott was awesome," Marbut said. "Scott was the ‘old Scott.' He was throwing the baseball like he did last year. That was great to see."

San Jose State, eighth in the nine-team Mountain West Conference at 4-8, is batting .249 with a 5.42 earned run average and a .969 fielding average. WSU's respective numbers of .254, 4.66 and .970 are among the worst in the Pac-12.

Boyd's World ranks San Jose State's schedule sixth toughest in the nation through Tuesday. Washington State's schedule ranked 14th.

The Cougars, who resume Pac-12 play next weekend against California, have played just five home games. Now they're scheduled to play 11 straight home contests, counting the "semi-annual" Pasco game April 8 against BYU.

Washington State, 3-3 in the Pac-12, is tied for fifth with Arizona State and USC. The Washington Huskies, who christened their new $15 million ballpark last weekend, are tied for first with Oregon at 5-1.

The hot bats of outfielder Ben Roberts and catcher P.J. Jones have helped the Cougars stay in the title picture. Marbut praised the "all-around" play of both players, citing Jones' quality work behind the plate in particular.

Roberts' .380 batting average would have ranked sixth in the latest official Pac-12 statistics (through Monday) if he had a few more at bats. Jones has batted .400 (10-for-25) since starting the season 0-for-31. His average is up to .179.

Game times for the San Jose State series are 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field. All WSU games are broadcast on local radio, and the games with San Jose State will be video streamed live for free at

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