Cougar baseball needs to get hot to make tourney
PULLMAN – Yes, Donnie Marbut says, the Washington State baseball team has to win this weekend’s series against Stanford.
And probably each of its next two series after that.
“I feel like we’ve got to win every game,” said Marbut, WSU’s coach.
That might just be his competitive nature talking. But the Cougars certainly are in a position now where they’re going to have to win far more often than they lose down the stretch.
At 24-20 – and 9-11 in Pac-12 play – with 12 games remaining, WSU likely needs to win at least six of its remaining conference games to give itself a chance of being selected as an at-large team into the NCAA tournament.
Marbut says that while nothing is guaranteed, there is a general belief that 30 total wins and a .500 record in Pac-12 play should be enough to earn a bid. But he’d rather not take any chances.
“You shouldn’t make assumptions,” he said. “If there’s a time to get hot, it’s now, and it’d be great if we did.”
The toughest of the Cougars’ remaining games will be this weekend, as they travel to the Bay Area for a three-game series against No. 11 Stanford. Marbut considers the Cardinal “extremely talented,” though they’ve posted just an 11-10 conference record thus far.
A series win would be huge for a WSU team coming off back-to-back series losses at home. The Cougars dropped two of three to California last weekend, and dropped two of three to Arizona State the weekend before that.
Marbut criticized his team’s will to win last weekend, saying they quit during Sunday’s 8-0 loss to the Bears. But they at least rallied to win a nonconference game over Portland, 4-2, on Tuesday.
That was the start of a busy week for WSU. After the Stanford series, the Cougars play a nonconference game at California on Monday, the result of the Bears scrambling to fill their schedule after nearly losing their program last season.
Then it’s back to Pullman on Tuesday for a make-up game against USC. Oregon State comes to town for a three-game series three days after.
“We’ve got really good character on this team,” Marbut said. “Sometimes I don’t necessarily like our passion or our energy, so I guess that’s got a little bit to do with it. We just haven’t gone on a roll yet. We haven’t played consistent baseball.”
Around the area
WSU: Last weekend didn’t help the Cougars in any of the tournament projections. ESPN.com’s predicted field doesn’t mention the Cougars, and PerfectGame.org, which had WSU in the field last week, now lists them as one of the first 10 teams out.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs got untracked a bit last weekend, taking two of three games from Saint Mary’s to move into a tie for fifth place in the West Coast Conference. The Bulldogs step out of conference for a three-game series this weekend against Arizona State at the Patterson Baseball Complex. Both ESPN.com and PerfectGame.org still project Gonzaga (29-17, 9-9 WCC) as an NCAA tournament team, though each service believes the Bulldogs will be one of the last teams to receive a bid. … Despite Gonzaga’s rough finish to the month of April, senior outfielder Royce Bolinger was named the WCC Rawlings Player of the Month. Bolinger hit .400 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in April. He ranks 11th in the nation in hits with 77, and leads the team in home runs (10) and RBIs (39).
Whitworth: The Pirates, who earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional in Linfield, Ore., which begins Wednesday, will learn their opponent when the field is announced on Monday.