College baseball: Cougars overcome rough start to season
PULLMAN – Less than a week after being involved in a three-car accident that sent him to Pullman Regional Hospital, Washington State baseball coach Donnie Marbut is back in the dugout with the Cougars.
Marbut was home with an illness on Thursday prior to WSU’s game against San Jose State and originally intended to miss batting practice, heading to the game less than an hour before the first pitch.
However his illness caused him to lose control of his vehicle, leading to an accident he only vaguely remembers.
“It just happened that there is some sickness going around town and I caught it and it was unfortunate,” Marbut said. “We’re just really, really thankful that nobody got hurt.”
With Marbut in the hospital the Cougars dropped that game against the Spartans, 7-3. But when it was determined that he had no serious injuries he returned as WSU closed out the series against SJSU with three wins, culminating in a 16-3 blowout in the series finale.
The wins continued a positive trend for the Cougars, who responded to a rough start by winning a series against Pac-12 foe Arizona and then sweeping San Diego. The Cougars won the first game of their series against defending-champion UCLA and lost the final two games by three total runs.
“I think (the Arizona series) made our guys instantly urgent because it’s the first Pac-12 series and then in the second week you’re playing the defending champions,” Marbut said. “Hopefully our guys have a sense of urgency every single ballgame that we play from here on out.”
Gonzaga is in the midst of a two-game series against No. 9 Oregon, one of the best teams the Zags will play all season. But against this big conference and bigger money opponent, the Bulldogs aren’t able to give it their best shot.
That’s because GU is already in the middle of West Coast Conference play, and if it uses up its best pitchers against the Ducks than it won’t have them against less heralded but more important conference opponents.
Though GU (10-17, 6-3) struggled to begin the season, it’s still in the hunt for one of the conference’s top seeds in the WCC tournament. The champion of that tournament will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.
“That’s what makes it a little bit challenging,” coach Mark Machtolf said. “You definitely don’t use any of your weekend starters, and then the bullpen you can use a little on (Wednesday) but not so much (on Thursday) because everybody’s got to be ready to go on Friday. But both teams are in the same boat.”