PULLMAN – Joe Pistorese’s dominant pitching stretch came to an end last week when then No. 10 Oregon dinged him for eight runs over four innings. However, the pitcher earned just four of those runs thanks to a pair of errors as the stellar defense that had previously given him the advantage failed.
The off-color outing diminished but could not foil what has been a remarkable April for the lefty. He was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week last week for his complete game effort in WSU’s 4-1 win over No. 5 Oregon State, in which he allowed the Beavers just four hits in nine innings.
The feat against the powerful lineup was remarkable, but not historic, like his complete game shutout – WSU’s first since 1995 – the week before in a 3-0 win over Cal.
“He’s unreal when he’s on the mound,” outfielder Yale Rosen said. “Just the tempo he brings. He always can pound the zone and so I’m confident every time Joe’s on the mound.”
Rosen earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors seven days prior to Pistorese, making it the first time since 1996 Cougars won the weekly awards back-to-back.
In those outings he was the beneficiary of some stellar defense. WSU committed no errors in either game and he received some big plays in the field, such as a diving catch by Rosen in left field to avoid a sure double.
Coaches and teammates claim that Pistorese’s quick pace on the mound helps the defense by keeping the team’s energy high. His win over Cal was done in just over two hours.
“It’s easy to play defense behind a guy who is so fast-paced because there isn’t much waiting around,” said infielder/outfielder Trek Stemp.
Pistorese can’t take all the credit for his early-April success, however. Catcher P.J. Jones calls the shots.
“P.J. and my relationship is phenomenal,” Pistorese said. “He’s calling the game for the most part; until runners are in scor- ing position he’s in control of the game. As you can see he’s been doing a damn good job of it.”
WSU baseball coach Donnie Marbut is currently serving a six-game suspension, imposed by the Pac-12 after Marbut was ejected from Friday’s game at Oregon. Marbut was the fourth consecutive visiting coach ejected from UO’s PK Park.
GU needed sweep
Gonzaga picked up a badly-needed sweep over the hapless Portland Pilots (8-33, 2-16) last week to regain a seeded position in the West Coast Conference standings. The Bulldogs (15-23, 11-7) are tied for third with San Diego after winning both games of a doubleheader on Friday and another on Saturday.
“I’ve said it all along, we’re not going to quit we’ll keep working at it and we had a huge weekend,” coach Mark Machtolf said.
The wins mean GU is once again in position to participate in the four-team WCC double-elimination tournament to decide the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Payden Lamb hit .667 (8 of 12) in the series and drove in four runs, while Cory LeBrun hit .400 (4 of 10) and had three RBIs.
“We bunched hits together, which we haven’t done a lot this year,” Machtolf said. “So we did a better job with runners in scoring position.”
After scoring just five runs in their previous three games GU averaged 6.33 in the sweep.