Another road series, another road series loss.
A weekend that again started with so much promise after yet another gem from Chad Arnold turned sour again as the WSU offense went into hibernation for the final two games against No. 17 Oregon, scoring just one run on seven hits -- only one of them for extra bases -- in the losses on Saturday and Sunday.
Craig wondered a week ago how this team would hold up without Derek Jones, its one legitimate power hitter. For one weekend, we have the answer. (Not well.)
The losses dropped the Cougs three games under .500 in conference play, and while I don't pretend to be any kind of expert on NCAA baseball bracketology, it would seem that they would need to win some games on the road at some point to not only show the selection committee they can do it, but also to simply get themselves up into the middle of the pack of the conference. The Pac-10 is insanely competitive, but it's hard to imagine eight teams from one conference making it into the field.
The good news? The Cougs are only 2.5 games out of third place, and still have four series left -- the top four teams in the conference have only three series left, so there's the opportunity to make up ground. That starts this weekend, as WSU welcomes in second place Cal to Bailey-Brayton Field.
But before we get to the matchup with the Bears later this week, let's take a look back at this past weekend. And before we do that, can I just say this? What the Ducks have done in such a short amount of time -- this is just their second season of baseball since resurrecting the program -- is nothing short of miraculous. Holy cow.
Friday: WSU 3, Oregon 2 (box score)
If it wasn't for Arnold, this team would be in a world of hurt. Another great start -- seven innings and two runs -- kept the Cougs in contact even as the offense (stop me if you've heard this before) struggled. Scoreless innings from Paris Shewey and Adam Conley allowed the boys to come back in the last two frames to post the win.
A clutch sacrifice fly from Patrick Claussen -- who also had the game-winning hit in the first game against ASU a month ago -- provided the eventual winning run.
Saturday: Oregon 6, WSU 0 (box score)
Not a whole lot to say here except Oregon starter Justin LaTempa was incredible -- just one hit allowed (a Matt Argyropolous double) in a complete game shutout. That's a pretty good accomplishment, given that the Cougs really specialize in putting the ball in play and making things happen with their feet. Tip your cap to the guy.
David Stilley wasn't totally terrible in trying to follow up his excellent start from last weekend, but he wasn't up to the task of matching LaTempa.
Sunday: Oregon 6, WSU 1 (box score)
The Cougs' lack of depth in the rotation reared its head again. James Wise opened with three uneventful, scoreless innings, then was obliterated in the fourth, able to only get one out while giving up two runs and leaving two men on base. The normally reliable Shewey came in and gave up a three-run bomb to the first man he faced. And that was that.
WSU tried to mount a small rally in the seventh, but a couple of HBPs and a couple of singles just aren't going to get the job done.
There's still time to get this season where WSU wants it to be, but it's time to get crackin'. Winning the two final home series against Cal and USC and splitting with Stanford and UCLA -- tow really good teams -- on the road would put WSU in pretty good shape.