Baseball looks to boost in Pac-12 standings against Utah

Tenth-place Cougars can rise in standings with series win over ninth-place Utah Utes



Sophomore left-handed pitcher Ethan Ross throws a pitch to opposing batter against Seattle University on March 6 at Bailey-Brayton Field.

KURIA POUNDS, Evergreen reporter

After defeating Utah Valley in a single-game Wednesday, the Cougars now head down to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Utes in a three-game series starting on Friday.

The Cougars (14-10, 2-7) came off their third straight Pac-12 series loss when Stanford won two out of three against WSU at Bailey-Brayton.

The Utes (7-15, 3-6) just defeated Dixie State 16-3 on Tuesday, but lost two out of three in their last series against No. 20 Oregon State.

WSU won the last game played between these two teams by a score of 8-4 back on May 18, 2019 at Utah. The last time the Cougars won a series against Utah dates to April of 2017 where they took two out of three against the Utes at Salt Lake City.

In the current Pac-12 standings, Utah is ranked 9th, with WSU tied for 10th with Washington and just a game behind the Utes to potentially pass them this upcoming weekend.

WSU is still at the top of the conference in several offensive categories, ranking third in batting average and fourth in runs scored. Utah ranks in the bottom three in both those categories.

The Cougars lost seven-consecutive Pac-12 games before defeating Stanford this past Saturday in extra innings. For the Utes, after being swept earlier in the season by Arizona State, they have managed to win one out of three games against Stanford, California and the Beavers.

The offense for WSU is rejuvenating, but the struggles in the bullpen really limit this team’s success. With games where the team has to come back multiple times, or the bullpen has difficulties closing out games, the wins for the Cougars may seem limited.

With a win like last Saturday for the Cougars, however, it can bring a spark to the team that they so desperately need.

Junior infielder Kyle Manzardo and senior outfielder Collin Montez continue to lead the offense for this team with Manzardo looking to get back his on-base streak and Montez adding to his batting average, which is second to Manzardo.

Manzardo broke his on-base streak last Thursday, but immediately got back on track with a homerun on Friday and going 3-4 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the ERA for the pitching looks to decrease, as junior right-handed pitchers Zane Mills and Brandon White have struggled as of late after both having hot starts to the season.

The Utes have been led offensively this season by redshirt juniors infielder Matt Richardson and catcher Christopher Rowan Jr. Richardson leads the team with a .344 batting average, Rowan Jr. leads with four home runs and both are tied for the lead with 12 RBIs.

First pitch from Smith’s Ballpark is set for 5 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. Sunday for the series finale. Lineups and starting pitchers will be announced one hour before game start.

The three-game series can be listened to on the WSU Athletics website and the live statistics can be followed on StatBroadcast.