This Week in Cougar Baseball

FINAL EXAMS TAKE place this week at Washington State, but WSU baseball players still cling to the faint hope that their final tests on the diamond won't take place until next month. A winning conference record in the perennially tough Pac-12 has often been good enough to send a team to the 64-team NCAA tournament. The Cougars are 10-11 in conference play with nine games left.

And WSU opens a three-game home series this weekend against last-place Utah.

"For me, if you have a winning record in the Pac-12 – one of the toughest conferences in the country – you should be invited to ‘the dance' (the NCAA tournament)," WSU pitching coach Gregg Swenson said.

Swenson, however, said he believes a winning Pac-12 record by no means guarantees a team an NCAA berth this year.

The Pac-12 has just two teams in the Baseball America Top 25 (No. 2 Oregon State and No. 6 Washington) and only two teams in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index Top 25 (No. 9 Oregon State and No. 23 Oregon). Washington's RPI is 26th.

Washington State went 2-7 against the latter three teams. Also, WSU is 20-23 overall, stands 98th in the RPI and has no ranked teams remaining on its schedule. The Cougars wrap up Pac-12 play at Stanford on May 16-18 and at home against Arizona State on May 23-25.

Nonconference road games remain with Gonzaga on May 13 and Seattle on May 19.

Utah (14-28, 3-18) is buried in the Pac-12 cellar. The normally quiet Utes bats suddenly came alive to score 29 runs the past two games, but pitching remains a huge issue. Utah has allowed 31 runs in splitting the past two contests, including a 21-17 – yes, 21-17 – loss to Washington on Sunday and a 12-10 win over BYU on Tuesday. Utah's team earned run average is a sky-high 5.29.

The Utes have been getting strong efforts out of regular Friday starter Mitch Watrous. The junior right-hander, 1-1 in two career starts against WSU, is 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA and ranks among the Pac-12 leaders with 67 strikeouts in 76 innings.

"He's just a really good college right-handed pitcher that knows how to pitch," Swenson said. "He's also a veteran, and usually older guys can take advantage of some of the younger hitters."

The Utes, batting just .236 as a team, have no one hitting above .288. The Cougars have four .300 hitters, led by third baseman Nick Tanielu (.329) and right fielder-left fielder Yale Rosen (.327). Rosen has gone 3-for-20 over the past five games.

Swenson, who filled in for head coach Donnie Marbut on the weekly baseball teleconference Tuesday with Marbut out of town recruiting, said the Cougars will stick with the same starting rotation order as last week. Joe Pistorese goes Friday, followed by Jason Monda on Saturday and Tanner Chleborad on Sunday.

Game times are 6 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday (pushed back from the usual 2 o'clock start due to commencement) and 2 p.m. Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field. The Pac-12 Networks carry the final two games; Friday's contest will be video streamed live for free at

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