Marbut gets his man; plus other notable notes

TRAVIS JEWETT was widely hailed for his coaching and recruiting work as a Washington State assistant baseball coach, but head coach Donnie Marbut says he's found a worthy replacement in Spencer Allen. "What do I like about him? I don't think we have enough time to talk," Marbut said Sunday in announcing Allen's move from Purdue to Washington State.

Allen, 31, is a native of Olympia. The former Capital High School star played at Iowa State and served as an assistant coach at Edmonds Community College (under Marbut), Iowa, Creighton and Purdue. He also scouted for the Detroit Tigers in the Pacific Northwest and Canada in 2006-07.

"He knows the Northwest," Marbut said. "He knows college baseball and he knows professional baseball.

"He has every quality you'd want to have in a friend and a coach."

After two seasons as a Purdue assistant, Allen said he's looking forward to returning to the Northwest to replace Jewett, the new hitting coach at perennial national powerhouse Arizona State.

"The Pac-10 Conference is probably one of the top four baseball conferences in the country," Allen said by phone from Lafayette, Indiana. "That was obviously an attraction.

"I feel WSU is an up-and-coming program. And obviously, getting closer to home doesn't hurt, either." Allen inherits Jewett's job as recruiting coordinator and will coach first base and work with outfielders. Marbut takes over for Jewett as hitting coach.

"Travis obviously did a great job," Allen said.

Pitching coach Gregg Swenson is now recognized as the head assistant coach, but will not take on Jewett's old title as associate head coach. Gabe Boruff, a finalist for the job taken by Allen, is set to return for a third season as a volunteer assistant coach. Marbut said he hopes to help Boruff fulfill his desire to find a summer college coaching job next year.

THE WSU BASEBALL team climbed into the national college polls late in the 2009 season, and six Cougars are playing for Top 25 summer college teams.

Cougar outfielder John Desmarais plays for No. 3 Corvallis, Ore.; pitcher Chad Arnold and outfielder Derek Jones are with No. 5 Newport, R.I.; James Wise pitches for No. 8 Mankato, Minn.; Sean Vucinich plays shortstop for No. 9 Wareham, Mass.; and David Stilley is pitching for the No. 14 Mat-Su Miners in Palmer, Alaska.

Meanwhile, WSU's Connor Lambert took the loss on Saturday but he's still tied for seventh in the Northwoods League with six saves.

The senior-to-be from Olympia has given up just 19 hits and eight walks in 26 innings. He's 1-2 with a 2.42 earned run average in 19 games with the St. Cloud (Minn.) River Bats. Opposing batters are hitting just .180 off of Lambert.

Matt Fanelli, another WSU senior-to-be from Olympia, is batting .253 with two homers and eight RBIs in 27 games with St. Cloud.


  • On the surface, it seemed a bit strange that Jason Drake resigned as WSU's head men's and women's cross country coach and the men's and women's distance coach in track to become an assistant coach at Washington in both sports.

    Rick Sloan, WSU's longtime head coach in men's and women's track and field, offered an explanation.

    "We will certainly miss Jason Drake," Sloan said. "He was a great addition to our staff and everyone loved JD, but it was a family decision to pursue other professional opportunities. Not only for himself, but for his wife, Colleen, who is a doctor of veterinary medicine."

    Taking over for Drake at WSU is Pete Julian. A standout distance runner at the University of Portland, Julian ran on the U.S. national cross country team in 1987 and '88. The Ashland, Ore., native has coached successful track and cross country programs at NCAA Division II Metro State even though the Denver school doesn't have a track.

    "Pete was highly recommended by some of the most recognized distance authorities in the country," Sloan said.

    "To be named to this amazing staff is an incredible honor," Julian said, "and I am going to work diligently to continue on the great tradition of the program."

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