Can Coug baseballers make it to Omaha?

SUNDAY'S WOES AT No. 7 UCLA aside, a compelling case can be made that Washington State, the third-place team in the Pac-10, should be a sleeper choice to advance to the final eight of the NCAA baseball championships. Rest assured, I haven't been drinking crimson-colored Kool-aid. I'm just looking at the facts.

Fact one: The Cougs' win over UCLA on Saturday marked the 12th WSU victory of the season over a ranked team. What that tells me is that WSU is battle-tested and confident. Moreover, they're no strangers to the post-season – these kids had a whale of showing in Norman a year ago.

Fact two: The Cougars have won 18 games this season – including Saturday's – in come-from-behind fashion. Six of those Ws came in the final at bat. And get this: the Cougars scored 147 runs this season with two outs. What all this tells me is that these guys have ice water in their veins. They produce in the clutch.


Fact three: The Cougars have solid pitching and great defense. That's a recipe for success, because even on days when the bats aren't working you've got two other pieces of the game you can lean on.

Fact four: The Cougs are playing their best ball right now. They're 11-3 since since a series loss to Oregon at the start of May, and their victims have included the likes of No. 18 Cal, No. 25 Stanford and No. 7 UCLA.

I'm also high on the Cougs because early in the season they handed arguably the best team in the nation – 47-8 Arizona State – its only series loss of the entire season.

It all has me thinking WSU might just be primed to make a run toward Omaha, where the 64-team tourney culminates with an elite eight in the College World Series.

WSU entered the past week with an official NCAA RPI of 32. Since then, the Cougs won games over Portland and Gonzaga, and one of three from UCLA.

The estimated RPI for Washington State today?

One of the more accurate predictors,, pegged it at 28 before Sunday's setback to the Bruins.

Last week, Baseball America forecast if all stayed the same, the Cougs would play in a regional held in Virginia. Perhaps. From this corner of the world, a surging team that is ranked No. 3 in the Conference of Champions and No. 20 in the nation deserves a regional placement on the West Coast. No matter. These Cougars have proven their mettle. Whether they're headed to Fullerton, Charlottesville, Austin or somewhere else, I think a march to Omaha is within grasp.

NOTABLE: Seedings and the entire 64 yeam field for the college baseball postseason will be announced in a half-hour tournament selection show on ESPN starting at 9:30 a.m. PT on Monday.Cougar fans are invited to join the team at the Palouse Creek Brewery in Pullman for selection show.

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