BASEBALL: #20 Cougs lose final series to #7 UCLA, await NCAA Regional fate

Cody Bartlett is a big reason why the Cougs should hear their name called tomorrow. (via wsucougars.com)

Washington State ended their regular season on a bit of a sour note today, falling 11-1 to UCLA in the rubber match of a three-game series. WSU had similar struggles getting the bats going on Friday when they fell 6-1. Only a late rally on Saturday prevented the weekend from being a total loss, as the Cougs battled back from a 4-0 deficit to win 6-4.

The lack of production is not all that shocking, considering how poorly the Cougs have made contact on the road and how well UCLA avoids it. Nuss explored some home/road splits a few weeks ago, and discovered that Wazzu's strikeout percentage is significantly higher on the road. The Bruins' weekend starters came into the series with K/9 numbers of 11.03, 11.34, and 11.08. With numbers like that, we should probably count ourselves lucky that WSU was able to ambush the Bruin bullpen on Saturday.

The number of runs scored is a bit alarming, as UCLA put up 21 in the three game series. But don't worry too much, the Bruins have average 6.9 runs/game throughout the season. They are no slouches on offense and the Cougar pitching staff may have been a little stretched after eight games in the span of ten days. 

So what do we have to look forward to for Selection Monday? The general consensus is the the Cougs are in the tournament, finishing third in a very tough Pac-10 conference with some very impressive wins in their back pocket (two over ASU, sweep of Cal, two over Stanford, etc.).

All that's really left is to find out where the Cougs will be going. Vince Grippi mentioned in his blog last week that the idea was the Cougs would be going to Fullerton. Why? Because they were supposed to go their last year before they were switched out in favor of SDSU, so Strasburg could be on ESPN.

Fullerton would be the best option because ASU and UCLA are the only other regional sites on the West Coast. A series win over UCLA probably would have locked the Cougs into the #2 seed there, but now it may not be a total given.

Otherwise, WSU will be making a trip somewhere far away. Jeremy Mills of ESPN has had the Cougs in Charlottesville, Virginia for the last few weeks. There are a host of other sites in the South and up and down the Eastern Seaboard. If WSU does not get placed in Fullerton, they will be making a big trip (Fullerton isn't exactly a short jaunt itself).

In this writer's eyes, the optimal place for the Cougs to land would be in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is just a short 3-hour drive up I-65 from Nashville and I have nothing to do next weekend. 

You can find out where WSU ends up tomorrow at 9:30 Pacific Time when ESPN will be airing the selection show. We will have a discussion thread up and LOTS of coverage of the Cougs and all their potential opponents in the coming week. 

Enjoy the ride, WSU made one hell of a run to get to this point, winning 9 of their last 12 Pac-10 games and surging from 9th to 3rd in the standings. 

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