Pistorese learned mental toughness at WSU

WASHINGTON STATE ACE Joe Pistorese forgot to mention during a recent Pac-12 Networks interview, at pitching coach Gregg Swenson’s urging off-camera, that Swenson has a sandwich named after him at a local Pullman eatery. Pistorese wanted to correct that oversight on Cougfan.com – kinda ...

It turns out there’s some question about the validity of “The Swens” at Valhalla Bar & Grill.

“I always joke about it with him because I think he just re-named another sandwich that was already made. He’ll argue and say it’s completely different. But it resembles a French dip to the max,” said Pistorese.

Pistorese (6-2, 177) has four complete games on the season and a 7-4 record with a 2.58 ERA. In 87.1 innings, the southpaw has only issued 17 walks. He's No. 1 all-time at WSU innings pitched (352) and in six starts since April, his ERA has dropped to 1.96.

A lot of that success, Pistorese says, he owes to Swenson and WSU skipper Donnie Marbut.

"(Swenson) is a big part of whatever success I’ve had," said Pistorese. "The biggest thing I needed to work on was my mental game and he helped me a lot with that, especially on staying focused later in the game. We talked earlier in my career about being better, longer. He helped me immensely with that."

Marbut took a tough love approach early on. But something changed midway through last season.

"For the first two years he was just all over me -- he’s the reason I even have the work ethic I have," said Pistorese. "Lately, he’s guiding me but he stays out of the way and lets me do my thing ... We found a good balance. It got easier and easier."

THE MLB DRAFT will be held June 8-10 and while most mock drafts out in cyberspace don't go beyond the first round, scouts have been coming to see Pistorese and other Cougs in increasing numbers according to the Pac-12 Networks. So could Pistorese go in the first 10 rounds? The first 15?

"I haven’t talked to any teams directly, maybe I will as we get closer to the draft. I’ve talked to my coaches, family and friends on what I would do and decisions I would make but I haven’t heard anything from teams on a spot or a round or anything like that. I’ve been focusing as much as I can on ASU and the next game, going day by day and doing my lifts and getting my throwing in," said Pistorese.

The three-game series at No. 12 ASU starts tonight (Pac-12 Networks, 7 p.m.). Pistorese will take the mound in his customary spot, in Game 2. Marbut this season has liked having Pistorese there so that he can clinch a series, or even it up.

Pistorese is a four-ball pitcher: fastball, slider, curveball, change up. On most days this season, he says, at least two of those pitches are "working" at optimal form. He and senior backstop P.J. Jones work together to figure it out.

"The coaches would ask me every year who I want catching me and P.J. is a phenomenal catcher so it was an easy choice for me from my freshman season on. I pretty much hang out with him off the field as much as possible, he’s a great guy. He’s a guy who will let me know when I’m doing something wrong (mechanically) he’s not afraid of that at all. I’ve grown to respect him a lot," said Pistorese.

As for the team cut-up, Pistorese doesn't hesitate in naming true freshman LHP Scotty Sunitsch. He’s the kind of guy, Pistorese says, who would go bow hunting for carp.

“He has these noises he likes to make," Pistorese said. "He’s always quoting movies that no one else has seen. He’s a character, for sure.”

There are six games left in Pistorese's WSU career, with the Cougs on the outside looking in on the postseason with a 27-23, 9-15 record. He's already graduated. There's no question when it comes to what he's going to miss the most.

"The guys. I’ve got a good bond with all the seniors on our team, the freshmen, the underclassmen. I’m going to miss those guys for sure … I’ve grown to love all these guys. Hopefully I can stay in contact as much as possible," said Pistorese.

  • Asked who was the toughest hitter he's faced, Pistorese names two. "(Beaver) Michael Conforto is up there ... Tough to get out is (Garrett) Stubbs at USC."

  • Asked to name one Cougar fans should keep an eye on in the years to come, Pistorese tabs a right-handed true freshman. "I’d have to say Ryan Walker right now. He’s been so consistent for us this year … very developed for a freshman and very mature."

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