WSU baseball gets back into Conference play versus Utah

Sitting at last in to Pac-12 Tournament, WSU set to play three in Salt Lake City



WSU infielder Kyle Russel gets ready to bat during an NCAA baseball game against Santa Clara, Friday, April 21, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor

WSU baseball has lost some ground in the race to qualify for the Pac-12 Tournament. After a year where WSU finished ninth in the Conference, they currently sit ninth again re-entering Conference play.

WSU got revenge on Gonzaga to split the season series and took two of three against Santa Clara at home to improve to 24-14 on the season entering Wednesday’s game against Utah Valley.

Still, the Cougs are 7-10 in Pac-12 play and trail eighth-place Arizona by two games. In order to qualify for the Pac-12 Tournament, they need to crack the top eight before the season’s end.

Head coach Brian Green’s squad has an opportunity this weekend to take on the Utah Utes, who are currently last in the Pac-12 standings at 4-16-1. Arizona on the other hand travels to Corvallis to take on the sixth-place Oregon State Beavers.

WSU leads the all-time series against Utah 19-17 and is 9-8 all-time when taking on the Utes on the road. The Cougs are 4-6 in the last 10 matchups between the two squads.

WSU is in a hole in the Pac-12 because of a pair of tough series this season on the road against Arizona State and USC in which they were swept.

While WSU is 13-5 at home and 5-1 in neutral site games this season, they are just 6-8 on the road and only 2-7 when visiting Pac-12 opponents. They have also lost six road games vs Conference opponents in a row, having not won one since March 12.

If the Cougs pull off a sweep, they would return to .500 in the Pac-12 at 10-10 and hopefully get some help from OSU.

The Cougs’ biggest advantage lies in the offense, with Utah currently last in the Pac-12 with a 6.73 team earned run average (ERA). The Cougar offense is fourth in the Pac-12 in batting average (.290) and second in on-base-percentage (OBP) at .395.

Another big advantage for WSU is on the basepaths. The Cougars are fourth in the Pac-12 in steals (45) and third in stolen base percentage (83.3%). The Utes hold the second-worst caught-stealing percentage in the Pac-12 (.153) while teams have successfully stolen 50 bases in 59 attempts (84.7%).

Following the Utah series, WSU will take on Gonzaga one more time before welcoming in their rival Washington Huskies for three over WSU’s commencement weekend and then going to California to take on the Golden Bears. They finish the season at home against the Stanford Cardinal, who are currently second in the Pac-12 and eighth in the NCAA.

The first pitch of WSU vs. Utah will be at 5 p.m. at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City. Utah Live Stream will broadcast the game.