This Week in Cougar Baseball

PULLMAN – Donnie Marbut is back to being his usual feisty self, and that's a good thing for Washington State baseball. The Cougars coach, briefly sidelined last week by a traffic accident and the flu, returned to the field in time to guide his team to three straight wins over San Jose State to build momentum for this weekend's series with visiting California.

Marbut, always quick with a verbal jab, jokingly accused a sports writer of causing the accident that resulted in a quick trip to the hospital. Then Marbut went for the kill against the shorter reporter.

"It's weird – I didn't see you over the steering wheel," Marbut deadpanned. "I could have sworn it was you."

Marbut, who was cited by Pullman Police for running a red light, said he was trying to return to Bailey-Brayton Field half an hour before Thursday's game after becoming so sick during batting practice that he went home. He watched Friday's rain-shortened partial game from the press box, then rejoined the team on Saturday and Sunday.

Marbut's pickup truck suffered substantial damage in the accident.

"We're just really, really thankful that nobody got hurt," he said.

Now Marbut wants to inflict pain on the Bears (14-12), who are tied with WSU (12-13) and Stanford for sixth in the Pac-12 at 3-3. All five teams above the Cougars and Bears, topped by surprising Washington (8-1 in Pac-12 play), are ranked in various Top 25 polls.

"The conference is still wide open," Marbut said.

A league championship and NCAA tournament berth remain the primary goals of the Cougars, Marbut said. The coach says improved consistency, physically and mentally, is a must.

"We haven't (always) shown that sense of urgency that I'd like us to show," Marbut said.

The Cougars, who have engaged in an endless series of close games, piled up season highs of 16 runs and 20 hits in a 16-3 blowout of San Jose State on Sunday.

Five Cougars are hitting .300, led by Yale Rosen. The junior outfielder ranked ninth in the Pac-12 through Monday at .363, and he was second in slugging percentage (.593) and fourth in on-base percentage (.453).

Freshman Ian Hamilton was leading the league with nine saves. That was tied for third in the nation through Sunday.

Marbut said he's juggled the starting rotation again, in part to try to help Jason Monda (.154) turn things around at the plate. Monda has been pushed back to Sunday in the rotation, with Joe Pistorese scheduled for Friday and Tanner Chleborad going on Saturday.

Marbut said Monda tends to be "a little tired and beat up after he's pitched."

California carries a lowly .238 team batting average, but the Bears have won three in a row.

Game times are 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. The radio broadcast and video stream are available for free at

The Cougars expect the usual big crowd when they make their somewhat annual "home" appearance in Pasco on Tuesday night against BYU. Washington State wraps up an 11-game homestand next weekend against powerful Oregon State.

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