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Great news abound for the Cougars on Saturday

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Wins on the field and off!

Good morning. Let’s start with a question. Do we think AD Pat Chun might shovel aside the dust that’s collected on that spot that Sizzlin’ Bill Moos reserved for the actual Apple Cup trophy? That’s one happy issue that Mr. Chun has facing him today, as the Washington State Cougars are the proud owners of the Boeing Apple Cup Series trophy following WSU Baseball’s 9-1 shellacking of the DFL Washington Huskies on Saturday.

Unlike on Thursday, when the Cougs threw up a snowman in one single inning enroute to an 8-1 win, WSU piled up the runs little by little, plating two in the first inning, one in the third, and three each in the sixth and seventh. Along with a sterling pitching performance from starter Grant Taylor and the bullpen, it all added up to a 9-1 WSU win to close out the season.

Senior Tristan Peterson made the most of his final appearance at Bailey-Brayton Field, going 3-5 with a double and two runs batted-in. Three other seniors, pitchers Owen Leonard, Bryce Moyle and Radd Thomas also got to experience the high of beating a rival in their last college baseball games. Best of luck to all four Cougs as they take the next step, wherever that leads.

Aside from Peterson and Taylor’s starring roles, outfielders Collin Montez and Nate Swarts had multi-hit games, and resident masher Kyle Manz(y)ardo drove home two more runs, becoming the first Cougar in over a decade to collect 60 runs batted-in. I don’t know what Manz(y)ardo’s draft status is, but I sure hope he’s back for 2022, because WSU’s baseball team seems poised to take another leap forward next season. First on the agenda is to figure out a way to hit fewer opposing batters and shore up the fielding percentage, two areas in which WSU struggled mightily.

So, about that Apple Cup Series trophy. This is the first year WSU has won it, and the Cougs needed that final win on Saturday to do so. According to the series website, WSU trailed 145-140 entering the game. Scoring rules dictate that a baseball win is worth 20 points, while a loss is worth 10. So the Cougs took home the trophy by the slimmest possible margin. Seems fitting that anything containing the words “apple” and “cup” came home by the skin of the teeth, because that’s just how it’s almost always been.

Congratulations to every Cougar team member who contributed to the victory. It literally took every one of you!

Baseball

Cougars Close Season With Boeing Apple Cup Series Win - Washington State University Athletics
Washington State jumped out to early lead and never looked back to clinch the Boeing Apple Cup Series with a 9-1 victory over Washington at Bailey-Brayton Field Saturday afternoon.

Football

That wasn’t the only win WSU got this weekend, as the football team snagged a coveted recruit from the transfer market. Cornerback Kaleb Ford-Dement announced his commitment to Nick Rolovich and the Cougars on Saturday, and as is often the case, he’s taking a roundabout way to the Palouse.

After announcing his intent to transfer from Norfolk, Virginia’s Old Dominion University (home to great breweries such as Smart Mouth, The Veil, Bold Mariner and O’Connor), Ford-Dement committed to UCLA, but was denied admission. Instead of heading back east, Ford-Dement decided to stay on (or at least near) the Best Coast, committing to WSU over other reported offers from the Georgia Bulldogs, Mississippi State Bulldogs (Hi Leach!), Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers (I guess he missed the boat!), Liberty Flames and SMU Mustangs.

Ford-Dement joins a suddenly crowded - and talented - group of cornerbacks, which makes me wonder whether defensive coordinator Jake Dickert might tinker with the secondary a bit during training camp in an effort to see if any of those corners can transition to the perilously thin safety spots. We shall see.

Elsewhere, Nick Rolovich joined KJR’s Ian Furness this week, and talked about a variety of subjects. To kick off, Furness asked about the situation surrounding the team’s vaccination status. I had to listen three times to make sure I heard correctly. Here is a transcript of the exchange (slightly edited):

Furness: Your school along with Washington and most post-secondary schools in our state are requiring vaccines. Are your players ok with that? What’s the feedback you’re getting from your players in regards to that? Are your guys buying in? Are your guys into doing that?

Rolovich: I don’t have a terrible amount of communication on that front, but I know there’s both sides here, so that’s definitely something that will continue through summer I would assume.

Ok hang on. I’ve thought through this some more, and...

Nope. Still no idea what that was supposed to convey. But it seems a bit troubling that the football team’s head coach wouldn’t be communicating with players and staff regarding an issue that is at the forefront of just about every aspect of American life currently. I’m sure guys like Nick Saban and Ryan Day are largely ignoring the vaccine status of their teams. Seems like the way to go.

The Ian Furness Show | iHeartRadio
Nick Rolovich says Jayden de Laura has been reinstated and will be competing for the QB job + other notes on the 2021 WSU football team.

WSU coach Nick Rolovich on recruiting during COVID as dead period ends
WSU faced challenges like few other programs in the country during the pandemic.

Former Old Dominion cornerback announces commitment to Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Ford-Dement, who didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced his commitment to the Cougars, choosing Nick Rolovich’s program over a handful of major offers in the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC.

Basketball

This week marked the second time that The Athletic’s basketball reporters got a WSU-centric question in their electronic mailbag. Since it’s a pay site, I won’t provide Seth Davis’s full answer, but here’s the question, and a piece of the answer:

With the influx of talent for the upcoming season, and with its highest recruit ever, do you think the Washington State Cougars can make the tournament this year, finally? — Ed F.

I believe this is my first Washington State question. KEEP ’EM COMING, ED F.!!!!...So Ed and his Wazzu fan buddies have reason to be a little more optimistic than usual. That is, until the games start. That’s when we’ll find out for real whether a new day is dawning in Pullman, or whether it’s Groundhog Day all over again.

Is Purdue ready for its close-up? Is Mississippi State on the rise? College basketball mailbag – The Athletic
Seth Davis answers readers' questions, including what college football could learn from college basketball.

This Week in Parenting

Team Kendall is now 4/7 vaccinated (yours truly got the 1-shot J&J), as the 12 year-old took his first dose of that sweet Pfizer goodness this week, and I’m happy to report that he suffered no ill-effects. Hopefully that carries forward to dose number two in June. If he experiences any arm soreness, I’ll just tell him to do 1,000 single-arm pushups like I did, and he’ll feel better.

And after more than seven months of trudging through the cold, rain-soaked German wilderness, 75% of team Kendall - including the kiddos - finally got to head abroad over the long weekend. The setting remained relatively the same as last October, as they headed to a different island in the Mediterranean for some sun. Last time it was Malta, this time it’s the Spanish island of Mallorca. Or is it Majorca? I’ve heard it both ways, and neither one produces the red line of spell-check shame. Speaking of red, it didn’t take long for the boys’ skin to turn that shade, as this is the first time their skin has been exposed to direct sunshine since mid-2020.

The most, um, interesting exchange came when I asked them what they had for dinner on Friday night, expecting the standard “chicken strips” or “burger with fries” response. Instead, the answer was “lots of different things.” I pressed further, and the 9 year-old said, “Like, umm, different umm, how do I phrase this. Different cultural foods.”

Good talk.

Sources indicate that it was lots of seafood and Spanish cuisine, so maybe paella was on the menu. Cosmo Kramer would be proud.

Non-Sports

This whole episode is bizarre (and I’m surprised it almost never happens), but I’ll admit to feeling quite uneasy every time my Qatar Airways flights would traverse large parts of western Iran while going into and out of Doha. Definitely glad there was no sort of issue that forced our landing there, or the old Air Force-taught resistance skills would have been put to use. Always stay in your circle.

How the Belarus-Ryanair Incident Changed the World - The Atlantic
Flying over a foreign country has, until now, felt to most people like teleporting past it.