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BASEBALL: Cougs head to Stanford for critical road series

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This will also serve as tonight's game thread, if you so desire. It's supposedly on FSN West, but I'm unclear as to whether it will be live. I know it will be replayed tomorrow morning on FSN NW -- I think at 9 a.m. Also, you can try this stream from channelsurfing.net. No idea if it will be working. If it's not, you can check out the Stanford radio stream here.

Time (PDT) WSU Starter Stanford Starter GameTracker
FRIDAY 6 p.m. RH Chad Arnold (4-2, 3.28 ERA, 1.293 WHIP, 59 K, 79 2/3 IP) LH Brett Mooneyham (2-5, 5.07 ERA, 1.658 WHIP), 76 K, 60 1/3 IP) Here
SATURDAY 2 p.m. RH James Wise (1-1, 5.23 ERA, 1.455 WHIP, 21 K, 32 2/3 IP) RH Jordan Pries (3-2, 3.44 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 49 K, 73 1/3 IP) Here
SUNDAY 1 p.m. TBA TBA Here

 

The Cougs head south to Palo Alto with a four-game win streak, but the Cardinal might not be the toughest opposition they face this weekend.

It might just be the road itself.

WSU has put itself squarely back in the postseason conversation, with ESPN's college baseball blog predicting the Cougs as one of the last five teams in the field. Since I'm not familiar with the selection process of the NCAA baseball tournament, I'm not going to pretend to know exactly what the Cougs need to do to assure themselves a spot. But I can take an educated guess.

They need to win some road games.

One of the things the basketball committee considers is a team's performance on the road, and it makes sense: Nobody plays at home in the NCAA Tournament.* I honestly don't know how heavily the baseball committee weighs that factor, but I've got to think that, at the very least, it is a factor. And if that's the case, this team has exactly six games to show the committee something.

* Granted, some high seeds in basketball get to play de facto home games and eight baseball teams get to host regionals, but those teams aren't on the bubble anyway, so that's not really relevant to this conversation.

The team's road problems have been well documented here, but in case you're not familiar, here's the scoop: WSU has a healthy overall record of 26-17, and is 9-9 in a tough Pac-10. But of those 26 wins, 16 have come at Bailey-Brayton Field, leaving the Cougs just 10-12 away from home, including a 2-7 mark in Pac-10 play.

What's behind the difference? We've speculated a bit at times about climates and hitting environments and such, but it was all really just anecdotal stuff. In search of some better answers, I'm compiling some home/road splits I hope will shed a little more light on the situation. I was hoping to have it done before tonight's game, but it hasn't happened. I'm hoping to have those findings up tomorrow morning.

My guess would be, that with six road games left to play, a .500 record against two quality opponents -- UCLA being the other one -- would look awful good. Lose both series ... well, I don't want to give the NCAA committee a reason not to take us.

To that end, tonight becomes almost a must-win, as we have the clear pitching advantage. Tomorrow, we don't. Then Sunday? My guess would be that's when we'll see Adam Conley make his second start. It hasn't been announced yet -- and why would Donnie Marbut do that, lest he give the other team an advantage -- but it just wouldn't make sense not to do it.