As famed ESPN analyst and failed baseball executive Steve Phillips might say:
These Cougs just know how to win!
From their late inning rally on Friday to their extra-inning triumph on Sunday the Cougs (18-16, 8-4) performed much higher on the Iowa Test of Basic Winning than the lowly Wildcats of Arizona (3-12, 16-19).
Luckily for the U of A, Wazzu was able to teach them three basic lessons throughout the weekend:
1) This is not beer league softball. The team that has the lead after nine innings is the winner, not six. You should also be pacing yourself so that you can last the duration of these nine innings (maybe avoid the extra brews in the dugout in between at-bats.)
Lesson: On Friday, Arizona took a 4-2 into the seventh inning. Some of the players were packing up their gear when they noticed the Cougars were lined up in their respective playing positions. Clearly having lost their intensity, the Wazzu retired them easily. In the bottom half, aided by triples by sophomore Matt Argyropoulos and senior Alex Burg, Washington State was able to score three runs to produce the final winning margin of 5-4.
Teacher of the Game: Matt Way. The Cougs' starter went 8 strong, giving up 6 hits, striking out 10, and only allowing one earned run.
2) Homeruns are good. Giving them up to the other team is bad, as it is the most surefire way of pushing runners across the plate.
Lesson: The Cougs displayed their home run aptitude in the first inning with a rare feat: back to back to back round-trippers. Senior Alex Burg began the onslaught, followed by freshman Derek Jones and senior Greg Lagreid. Michael Weber joined the festivities in the sixth with a solo shot of his own. Wazzu eventually held on, defeating the Wildcats for the second straight day, 5-4.
Teacher of the Game: Derek Jones. 2 for 3 and the meat of a dinger sandwich in the first.
3) The road team does not get another crack at it if the home team takes the lead in extra innings.
Lesson: This rule seemed like a simple enough one, but it was clear the Wildcats coaching staff had not brought it up before in practice. The Cougs forced extras with a 2 run rally in the ninth to come back from a 7-5 deficit. Then those guys from 'Zona failed again as they let sophomore Cody Bartlett drive a double off the wall to bring home Garry Kuykendall with the game winning run. Wazzu prevailed 8-7.
Teacher of the Game: Garry Kuykendall. Just 1-4, but he walked twice and scored three runs (which we shouldn't give him too much credit for, but we will give him lots of credit for getting on base three times!)
So the Cougs squeaked out three wins over U of A to move into a tie for second place with Oregon State. They weren't convincing, and they were over the worst team in the league, but we'll take 'em!
On a less fun side note, the Cougs lost to No. 22 Gonzaga last Tuesday, 16-7.
Wazzu goes on the road this week for two games (tonight and tommorrow) against the Utes of Utah. They then travel to L.A. for a big series against the Trojans. USC sits just a half game below Wazzu in the standings.
The victory on Sunday gave the Cougs their first conference sweep since the days of the Pac 10 north. Who you ask was the opponent then? Portland State.