Washington State hosts No. 28 UCLA on Friday - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Washington State hosts No. 28 UCLA on Friday

Courtesy: WSU Athletics Courtesy: WSU Athletics
By WSU Athletics
Pullman, Wash.  |  Bailey-Brayton Field (3,500)  |  May 12-14, 2017
Friday, 7:05 p.m. | Saturday, 4:05 p.m. | Sunday, 12:05 p.m.
Pac-12 Network

Washington State (22-22, 8-13 Pac-12) hosts No. 28 UCLA (24-21, 13-8 Pac-12) for a three-game series beginning Friday on the Pac-12 Network. Friday's opener is set for 7:05 p.m., Saturday at 4:05 p.m. and Sunday's finale at 12:05 p.m. The Bruins entered the week ranked No. 28 in the latest Collegiate Baseball national poll.

Cougar baseball fans can follow all the season's action on the Washington State baseball official twitter page @CougBaseball, instagram page @Coug_Baseball and wsucougars.com. Links to live stats and radio streams will be available at the baseball schedule page on wsucougars.com. Every Cougar home game will be webstreamed through Pac-12.org.

Last weekend, WSU took two of three from Oregon in Pullman. The opener was rained out Friday and the Ducks claimed Saturday's game one before the Cougars used a pair of ninth-inning walk-off hits to take Saturday's game two and Sunday's finale, clinching their third straight conference series.

The Cougars will head to Gonzaga next Tuesday before face No. 1 Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.

Washington State owns a 22-22 record including an 8-13 mark in Pac-12 play after taking two of three from Oregon last week. The Cougars have won their last three series after recording a series win over No. 30 Washington three weeks ago and at Utah two weeks ago. WSU has surpassed last season's win total and enters the weekend second in the Pac-12 in doubles (90), fourth in runs scored (231) and leading the Pac-12 with 21 double plays turned in conference play. Junior first baseman James Rudkin enters the weekend leading the team in batting average (.312) including a .353 average in conference play. Sophomore leftfielder Justin Harrer is second on the team with a .310 batting average but paces the club with 29 RBI and 16 doubles, tying for third in the conference. Junior reliever Scotty Sunitsch enters the weekend third in the Pac-12 with eight saves. Head coach Marty Lees is in his second season at Washington State.

Washington State trails the all-time series with UCLA 52-22 after dropping all three meetings to the Bruins in Los Angeles last season. UCLA has won the last seven series against WSU and owns a 22-10 mark in Pullman. Washington State's last series win came in 2009, taking two of three in Pullman.

WSU enters the weekend among the top of the Pac-12 Conference in a couple categories. Offensively, the Cougars are second in the league in doubles (90), fourth in on-base percentage (.367) and fifth in stolen bases (33). The pitching staff has picked off 11 baserunners, tied for the most in the Pac-12, while the defense is third with 39 double plays turned including a league-best 21 doubles plays turned in conference play. Justin Harrer enters the weekend tied for third in the Pac-12 with 16 doubles. On the mound, Scotty Sunitsch enters the weekend third in the Pac-12 with eight saves while Cody Anderson is seventh in ERA (2.64) and eighth batting average against (.229).

32 - 32 years since the last WSU no-hitter, Kurt Waananen - Rockford College (Ill.) (3/14/85)
20 - WSU has 20 games with 10+ hits this season, had 15 double-digit hit games in 2016
16 - 16 players have made their Cougar debuts
18 - WSU owns 18 home runs in 44 games this season after hitting 16 last season in 54 games
15 - James Rudkin leads the team with 15 two-out RBI, JJ Hancock is second with 12
12 - WSU owns 12 comeback wins this season
7 - The first seven wins this season were all come-from-behind wins
7 - WSU's seven-game winning streak was the longest since the 2013 team won eight in a row
4 - Four players own 10+ doubles this season after just two reached that mark last season
1.95 - WSU posted a 1.95 ERA in the series win at Utah, 27.2 IP, 16 H, 20 K, .167 avg against

The Washington State offense has made big strides in year two under head coach Marty Lees and hitting coach Jim Horner. In 44 games this season, the Cougars have recorded the most doubles (90) and home runs (18) since the 2013 team recorded 92 doubles and 24 home runs. Four Cougars have recorded 10+ doubles in 2017 after just two players had double-digit doubles last year and WSU has not had five players record double-digit doubles since six did so in 2010. This season WSU has also posted a higher batting average, averaged more runs and more hits per game compared to the previous two seasons.

A couple Cougars are closing in on putting their games in the WSU career Top-10 lists. With his three-inning save at Utah, junior lefthander Scotty Sunitsch notched his ninth career save and moved into a tie for ninth all-time in WSU history for saves. His eight saves this season are tied for 10th most in WSU single-season history. Sunitsch also enters the weekend with 66 career appearances, needing four more to move into the WSU Top-10 for career appearances. Junior righthander Colby Nealy owns 63 career appearances and fellow junior right Ryan Walker has made 60 career appearances. Sophomore catcher Cory Meyer has been hit by a pitch 10 times this season, four away from moving into the WSU Top-10  for season hit-by-pitches.

The 2017 Cougars have settled in as the comeback kids, coming from behind in their first seven wins this season and have added six more since including two last weekend against Oregon. It could all be traced back to the season-opening series last year when WSU with two runs in the ninth to force extra innings at Texas State and went on to post a 9-8 win in 10 innings, giving head coach Marty Lees his first career victory.

Washington State opened the 2017 season winning its first three home series before dropping a home series 2-1 to No. 8 Arizona. After taking the series from No. 30 Washington and Oregon, the Cougars now own a 16-6 mark at home after starting 10-1. That 10-1 mark matched the best home start by a Cougar team since the 1988 John Olerud-led team finished the season with a 22-1 record at Bailey-Brayton Field. The 16-6 home record matches the best home start since the 2010 team.

WSU used a pair of ninth-inning walk-off hits to win the final two games of last weekend's series against Oregon, claiming their third straight Pac-12 series win. Friday's opener was rained out and Oregon took Saturday's game one before JJ Hancock drove in the winning win with a ninth-inning single to left field to post a 2-1 game two win Saturday. In Sunday's finale, WSU rallied from a 5-0 seventh-inning deficit with a run in the seventh, three more in the eighth before Justin Harrer pulled a double down the left field line to score runs for a 6-5 Cougar win.

The Cougars claimed their second straight series after taking the final games at Utah. The defending Pac-12 Champion Utes won the opener 2-1 in 10 innings after a missed fly ball with two outs and two runners. WSU bounced back with a convincing 10-1 win Friday before coming back twice to win Saturday's series-finale 5-4.

Washington State notched its third-straight series win over rival Washington, taking two of three from the No. 30 ranked Huskies in Pullman. WSU used a bases-loaded walk-off walk to claim the opener 5-4 in 11 innings and then erased a 1-0 deficit with a five-run fifth inning to win 6-3 Saturday before dropping Sunday's finale 7-1. Head coach Marty Lees has led the Cougars to series wins over UW in his first two seasons after taking two games in Seattle last season.

Washington State has posted back-to-back series sweeps it first two home series of 2016, taking all three games from Stephen F. Austin and four from Utah Valley. WSU also recorded its first back-to-back series sweeps (3 or more games) at home for the first time since 1993 (4 at Hawaii – Hilo, 3 vs. Gonzaga in Richland, Wash.).

In an 8-7 defeat at Long Beach State March 15, the Cougars launched a season-best four home runs, the most since hitting four against Eastern Michigan in 2013. JJ Hancock got things started with a solo blast in the fourth inning and Justin Harrer followed with a solo shot, the first back-to-back homers for WSU since Derek Jones and Matt Argyropoulos did so at Cal State Bakersfield in 2011. In the fifth inning, freshman Dillon Plew hit his first career homer and freshman Jon Burghardt hit a pinch-hit three-run shot in the seventh that gave WSU a 7-4 advantage.

Washington State's three-game series sweep of Stephen F. Austin was the first series sweep since 2015, taking all four games against Sacred Heart. In the series, WSU outscored SFA 21-10, hitting .301 and held Lumberjack hitters to a .169 batting average. It was also the first series sweep under head coach Marty Lees and is the first time the Cougars have swept a home-opening series since taking all four from Eastern Michigan in 2013.

Four Cougar pitchers combined to no-hit Stephen F. Austin in the series-finale March 5, the second game of a doubleheader. It was the first WSU no-hitter since Kurt Waananen no-hit Rockford College in 1985, the first nine-inning no-hitter since Eric Wilkins (vs. Oregon State – 1976) and first combined no-hitter since 1974 (David Wright and Roger Stein – Idaho). Cougar starter Cody Anderson earned the win after striking out six and allowing just three unearned runs in six innings. The junior left-hander earned his first career win. Junior right-hander Joe Rosenstein followed with 1.1 innings of work and freshman lefty Isaac Mullins got the final two outs of the eighth inning before the junior left-hander Scotty Sunitsch worked a scoreless ninth to post the 24th no-hitter in school history and fifth combined no-hitter.

Junior Ryan Walker was named to the preseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Associate Stopper of the Year. The award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I Baseball. Walker earned All-Pac-12 HM last season after posting the sixth lowest ERA (2.66) and batting average against (.212) in the conference during Pac-12 play. Of WSU's 11 conference wins in 2016, Walker recorded four wins and four saves. Overall, Walker led the Cougars with a 6-3 record and five saves in 18 appearances along with a 2.40 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 63.2 innings, all in relief. Walker's six relief wins tied for the second-most relief wins in WSU single-season history.

The 2016 WSU recruiting class was ranked No. 28 in the country according to D1Baseball.com, who began to release its Top-30 signing classes. It is the first Cougar recruiting class to be nationally ranked by D1Baseball.com and features eight junior college transfers and four freshmen. Two freshmen hail from the state of Washington and were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft but chose to play for WSU. According to D1baseball.com "…this is a high quality and high upside class that has head coach Marty Lees very excited and comparing his class to some of the powerhouse recruiting classes he had as an assistant at Oregon State and Oklahoma State…"

WHO'S NEW? NOTES ON KEY NEWCOMERS (Stats based on last season)
Andres Alvarez (So., SS, Trinidad JC)    All-Region 1st-Team, .395, 23 2B, 15 SB
Cody Anderson (Jr., LHP, Bellevue CC)    Northwest Athletic Conference-best 114 Ks in 85.2 IP
A.J. Block (Fr., LHP, Newport HS)    39th-RD draft pick (Cubs), All-State 1st Team
Blake Clanton (Jr., OF, Western Oklahoma State College)    NJCAA DII Region II MVP - .373, 19 HR
Cory Meyer (So., C, Spokane Falls CC)    JUCO All-America 3rd Team, .333 batting avg
Dillon Plew (Fr., INF, Kennewick HS)    League Player of the Year, .473, 7 2B, 23 RBI
Ryan Ramsower (Jr., INF, Pima CC)    All-Region 2nd-Team, .360, 15 2B, 39 RBI, 9 SB
Joe Rosenstein (Jr., RHP, Lamar CC)    All-Region 1st-Team, 7-1, 60 Ks in 59.2 IP
James Rudkin (Jr., 1B, McLennan JC)    2016 - .308, 10 2B, 7 HR, 41 RBI
Danny Sinatro (Fr., UTL, Skyline HS)    40th-RD draft pick (Indians), All-State 1st-Team
David Wallum (So., RHP, Linn-Benton CC)    7-3, 3.24 ERA, 60 Ks in 58.1 IP
Cal Waterman (Fr., C, Summit HS)    Oregon HS Player of the Year, .574, 17 2B, 8 HR, 43 RBI

2017 SIGNING CLASS (will be here this fall, play spring, 2018)
Brody Barnum (OF/RHP, R/R, 6-3, 215)    Vancouver, Wash. (Skyview HS)
Mason De La Cruz (INF, R/R, 6-0, 170)    Auburn, Wash. (Thomas Jefferson HS)
Anthony Felix (INF, R/R, 5-10, 185)    Tucson, Ariz. (Canyon del Oro HS/Pima CC)
Avery Jones (RHP, R/R, 6-6, 205)    Gig Harbor, Wash. (Gig Harbor HS)
Collin Montez (OF, L/L, 6-2, 200)    Marysville, Wash. (Marysville Getchell HS)
Conner Nantkes (LHP, L/L, 6-2, 180)    Aurora, Colo. (Cherokee Trail HS)
Michael Newstrom (LHP, R/L, 5-9, 205)    Puyallup, Wash. (Puyallup HS)
Dylan Orlando (LHP, L/L, 6-1, 185)    Las Vegas, Nev. (Palo Verde HS)
Hayden Rosenkrantz (RHP, R/R, 6-3, 175)    Salt Lake City, Utah (Cottonwood HS)
Isaiah Smith (OF, R/R, 6-2, 200)    Battle Ground, Wash. (Battle Ground HS)
Jack Smith (INF, R/R, 6-3, 180)    Mercer Island, Wash. (Mercer Island HS)

Washington State went 19-35 overall including an 11-19 Pac-12 Conference mark under the direction of first-year head coach Marty Lees in 2016. The Cougars picked up series wins over No. 10 Oregon State and at No. 14 Washington and finished the year second in the league in stolen bases.

In his first official move as head baseball coach, Marty Lees named Dan Spencer as the Cougars' associate head coach. Spencer oversees WSU's pitching staff and reunited with Lees as the two spent four seasons together at Oregon State, winning back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007. Spencer coached three seasons with the New Mexico Lobos after serving the previous four years as the head coach of Texas Tech, compiling a 115-112 record. Before joining Texas Tech for the 2008 season, Spencer spent 11 seasons at Oregon State as the Beavers hitting coach (1997-2003) and pitching coach (2004-2007). He began his head coaching career at Green River Community College (1992-96) in Auburn, Wash. In 1992 and 1994 he was named the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Coach of the Year. A native of Vancouver, Wash., Spencer received his bachelor's degree in history from Portland State University in 1990. He and his wife, Susie, have three children: Wade, Logan, and Elizabeth.

Jim Horner, a first-team All-Pacific-10 player for the Cougars in 1996, jumped at the opportunity to return to the Palouse last season after managing the Seattle Mariners Double-A affiliate Jackson Generals (Tenn.) for the 2014 season and the first half of the 2015 campaign. Horner owns seven-plus years of managerial experience, serving as the skipper of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Seattle – Low-A) from 2006-07 and the High Desert Mavericks (Seattle - High-A) from 2008-10 and 2013. In 2009, he was named California League Manager of the Year and Seattle Mariners Staff Member of the Year after guiding the Mavericks to South Division first and second half titles. From 2011-12, Horner coached two seasons at Texas Tech as the hitting coach under then head coach Dan Spencer. Horner joined the coaching ranks immediately after completing a nine-year professional playing career, all with the Mariners' organization. He was a catcher in the Seattle farm system from 1996-2004. In 2000, Horner reached the Triple-A level with the Tacoma Rainiers. Horner played at Washington State for coaches Bobo Brayton (1993-94) and Steve Farrington (1995-96). The Twin Falls, Idaho native earned first-team All-Pac-10 Conference honors as a senior after leading the Cougars with a .332 batting average. Horner was also named the Pacific-10 Conference Medal Winner for Washington State as WSU's top male student-athlete and received all-academic honors while earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Jim and his wife, Katie, have four children: daughters, Madison and Reagan, and sons, Jackson and Tyler.

This season, 38 games will be broadcast on the Washington State IMG College Network and every radio broadcast will be available through the WSU Gameday App via TuneIn and on KQQQ (1150 AM) in Pullman. There will also be 10 select games broadcast on KXLY (920 AM) in Spokane and 18 games will be available on KONA (610 AM) in Tri-Cities. Included in the 38 broadcasts are all 30 Pac-12 Conference contests and all three meetings against Gonzaga University. Matt Chazanow enters his second season calling Cougar Baseball and will be joined in the booth by former Cougar All-American and Major Leaguer Mike Kinkade who will serve as an analyst for select home games in 2017. Kinkade played at Washington State from 1992-95, earned All-America honors as a junior and finished his WSU career the all-time leader in hits, runs scored and doubles and went on to play six seasons in the big leagues with the Mets, Orioles and Dodgers.

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