WSU looks to shuffle lineup against Cal State Northridge

The WSU baseball team returns to Pullman for a four-game home series against Cal State Northridge (CSUN) this weekend.

WSU, which last played Cal State Northridge in 2014, owns an (15-12) all-time record against the team. Head Coach Marty Lees praised the Matadors for their coaching staff and starting pitching. Three of Cal State’s starters enter the weekend with an ERA below three.

CSUN junior right-hander Tei Vanderford has limited batters to a .157 batting average, posting a 1.64 ERA through his first five starts. Earlier this month, Vanderford threw a complete game against Vanderbilt, a team that was ranked No.14 in the country at the time.

The Cougars won seven straight games before dropping three out of four last week in California. Lees said his team needs to reset, refocus and start the next series on a good note.

“First things first, we need to play good baseball on Friday night,” Lees said. “Damon Jones needs to come out and throw like he can, we need to play good defense like we can, and we need to use an effective offense like we can.”

Jones will start as pitcher tonight, followed by right-hander Ryan Walker on Saturday, left-hander Cody Anderson on Sunday and left-hander A.J. Block on Monday.

In Anderson’s last outing, he pitched into the ninth inning, allowing one run on five hits and no walks, striking out six along the way. Anderson lowered his ERA to 1.80, fifth best in the Pac-12. His 31 strikeouts rank seventh in the conference.

Lees mentioned he is still shuffling his lineup to get different players at-bats and find ways to optimize his order.

Sophomore infielder Andres Alvarez moved up to sixth in the order on Sunday’s win over USC. Lees said Alvarez’s ability to put the ball in play and move runners over will help bridge the gap from the top of the order to the bottom.

One of the players Alvarez will be responsible for moving over is junior infielder Shane Matheny.

At this point in the season, Matheny has been one of the best hitters in the country. His .404 batting average and .493 on-base percentage both rank top-five in the Pac-12.

Not only does he get on base, but Matheny has shown tremendous power in the early part of the season. His ten doubles rank third in the Pac-12 and his conference leading .754 slugging percentage ranks 19th in the country.

One player that Lees said will get more time on the field this weekend is freshman utility Danny Sinatro.

Sinatro started the year as an infielder but has since transitioned to the outfield. Lees praised Sinatro’s work ethic, and said the Cougs have big plans for him in the future. Sinatro will likely share time with redshirt junior outfielder Dugan Shirer in center field this weekend.

Lees said he hopes to get all his players a role on the team to help win games in the future.

“If you’re giving, and you’re working hard, and you’re wanting to have success for this team, I’m all in,” Lees said.

The Cougars’ 46 out of 104 runs scored this year have come with two outs. Ten of these runs have come after the first two batters of the inning recorded outs. Lees said his team does not quit and will fight to keep innings alive.

“These kids have grinded it out,” he said. “That’s one of things I enjoy about being around them, that they typically don’t just give it away.”

The series kicks off at 4 p.m. today at Bailey-Brayton Field. All games will be streamed live on