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Home battle against the Beavers; WSU baseball hosts Oregon State

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Home battle against the Beavers; WSU baseball hosts Oregon State

Senior Collin Slaybaugh runs to third base during a home game against San Jose State, March 28.

Senior Collin Slaybaugh runs to third base during a home game against San Jose State, March 28.

Senior Collin Slaybaugh runs to third base during a home game against San Jose State, March 28.

Senior Collin Slaybaugh runs to third base during a home game against San Jose State, March 28.

Chris Shaw | Evergreen baseball reporter

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It’s Mom’s Weekend at WSU, and the crowd on hand at Bailey-Brayton Field will witness a three-game series against the toughest competition the Cougars have faced all season.

After failing to put a single run on the board against Brigham Young University on Tuesday, the Cougars will have a nearly impossible task starting on Friday: scoring against the orange-clad Beavers of Oregon State.

Ranked No. 5 in the nation in the Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA polls, the Beavers visit Bailey-Brayton Field with a 25-6 record and a pitching staff that rarely allows any team to score.

“I don’t think it changes our focus and our preparation for the game,” redshirt junior shortstop Trace Tam Sing said. “We know it’s a pretty good opponent, and we’re just trying to focus up, especially during practice and come at it the same way we’ve been coming at it for the previous Pac-12 games.”

The Beavers are led by starters junior Jace Fry, sophomore Andrew Moore, and senior Ben Wetzler, who each have an ERA under 2.50. Wetzler enters the series as the most unscathed hurler, allowing three runs, two of which are earned, in 47 innings.

“One of the first jobs we try to knock out every game is scoring first,” Tam Sing said. “It’s a big thing for us every game, especially against a club that has really good pitching. They have really good depth in their bullpen too, so it’s something we really need to try to get into and try to get their starters out of the game really quick.”

Oregon State carries a five-game winning streak into the series against the Cougars, and are 9-3 in the Pac-12 conference. The Beavers are also fully capable of winning on the road. So far, Oregon State is 6-1 on the road this season.

“We still go into it the same as always,” junior infielder Ian Sagdal said. “We just have to play our butts off and make the plays we can. Hopefully it rolls our way, and if it doesn’t we have to make an adjustment and find ways to do it.”

As if lights-out pitching isn’t enough, the Beavers’ bats have stayed hot as well. Oregon State scores more than six runs per game and is led by two standout juniors who have started all 31 of the team’s games: Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis.

Conforto is batting .383 and gets on base 53 percent of the time he comes to the plate. Part of that on-base percentage is due to the 30 walks he has earned. Conforto’s ability to get on base is not his only value to the Beavers. He is tied for the team lead in RBIs with the other impressive junior on the team, Dylan Davis. Both players have driven in 35 runs apiece.

Davis has the most home runs on the team with three and has hit a team-leading nine doubles. He is batting a modest .295.

However, all hope is not lost for the Cougars as their starting pitching has come together lately. Junior pitcher Joe Pistorese threw a complete-game shutout against California in his most recent start, and both junior Tanner Chleborad and senior Jason Monda each threw at least seven innings of one-run ball in their previous starts against California.

A powerhouse also lurks in the middle of the Cougar lineup. Junior Yale Rosen has raised his batting average to .400 going into the series against Oregon State.

Beyond the statistics, the team will have extra motivation to play well this weekend because of who is watching in the stands.

“When my mom’s out there, it’s always nice to know that she’s out there watching,” Tam Sing said. “We always get a good crowd on Mom’s Weekend, so we want to go out there and prove that we are a really good team in the Pac-12, and that hopefully we can put on a good show for the moms out there.”

The first game of the series begins at 6 p.m. Friday. Pistorese is set to oppose the senior Wetzler in a battle between left-handers. The second game will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the third game at noon on Sunday.

The first game of the series begins at 6 p.m. Friday. Pistorese is set to oppose the senior Wetzler in a battle between left-handers. The second game will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the third game at noon on Sunday. Chleborad will oppose Moore in the second game, and the rubber match on Sunday will feature Monda versus Fry in another southpaw showdown.

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Home battle against the Beavers; WSU baseball hosts Oregon State