This week in Cougar baseball

THE COUGARS ENTER this weekend's series against the Ducks on an unfamiliar note. Washington State had won six of their last seven before last weekend's tilt against Arizona, and the Wildcats outscored the Cougs 19-10 and took two of three. The recent emergence of a young pitcher could help the Cougars down the stretch, though.

Freshman right-hander Ryan Walker (pictured above) was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week after two strong performances during that span. His most recent was a seven-inning appearance against the Wildcats, who he held to two hits and no runs. He struck out seven hitters on the top offense in the conference.

Walker also subdued the Washington Huskies last week when he fired 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball to help the Cougars triumph 3-0.

The freshman has lowered his ERA to 1.69 through 48 total innings of work. He has 43 strikeouts compared to 17 walks, and opponents are hitting a measly .205 against him.

In Walker, the Cougars appear to have found a reliable third starter, to join seniors Sean Hartnett and Joe Pistorese.

Where it doesn't help -- a WSU offense that ranks second-to-last in the Pac-12 in runs scored.

Oregon was ranked early in the season, but has stumbled badly. The Ducks roll into Pullman for this weekend's series needing to win more than ever. They are 27-21, including a 9-12 mark within the conference.

The Ducks have won six consecutive games against the Cougars, dating back to 2013 when they swept WSU in Pullman.

Last weekend, the Ducks defeated last-placed Stanford in two out of three games, losing the finale and also dropping a midweek matchup on Tuesday against Oregon State.

Both the Ducks and Cougars have similar offenses. Each has a lone batsman sporting an average above .300: Ian Sagdal for the Cougars and Mitchell Tolman for the Ducks.

A few big boppers riddle the Ducks' lineup, including Shaun Chase who has clubbed five home runs and Brandon Cuddy who has four dingers. Meanwhile, the only true home run threat in the Cougars' lineup is Sagdal, who leads the team with five round-trippers.

This series figures to come down to starting pitching, and that edge resides with the Cougars based on what the stat sheet says.

The two main starters for the Ducks are young guns, redshirt sophomore Cole Irvin and freshman David Peterson. They have combined to go 6-9 in 23 total starts this season. Both have ERA's above 4.50, and opposing hitters are batting .280 and .266 off them, respectively.

Senior Jack Karraker has started five games for the Ducks and has been a bright spot for the team. He is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 28 innings of work this season.

Friday's game begins at 7:30 p.m. The teams play again at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and at noon on Sunday. The first two games will be televised on Pac-12 Oregon, the finale on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cougfan Top Stories