Arizona State Preview

After the non-conference schedule that Stanford plays every year, it seems as though the start of the Pac-10 would be a relief for the Cardinal. However, when the first opponent is Arizona State, a team that has only 3 losses in 30+ games, and the games are on the road, the schedule gets no easier. Can the Cardinal go to Tempe and be the first team all season to take a series from the red hot Sun Devils? Read on for details...

#7 Stanford (14-7) vs. #3 Arizona St (31-3) 

Saturday: 6:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM
Monday  3:30 PM

*All games played at Packard Stadium in Tempe. Times are Pacific. 

Spring Break for college baseball players never means the exotic locales most college students visit, such as Cancun, the Carribean, or Europe, but for the Stanford Cardinal, Tempe would seem to be a nice place. After all, Tempe usually has outstanding weather and its always a spring break hot spot. But for the Cardinal, the trip to Tempe will be all about business, as the Pac-10 schedule gets underway against the Arizona St. Sun Devils, off to the best start in school history. 

After a 3-5 start, Stanford has responded by winning 11 of 13 and five consecutive games. Defeating the slumping USC Trojans in the final two games of the series three weeks ago then following it up with a sweep over Cal, the Cardinal are playing to the level that many experts thought they would earlier in the season. The hitting has finally come around for Stanford, as the Cardinal have mashed the ball during their current five game winning streak, scoring 59 runs. 

The Sun Devils have been playing great baseball all season long. Losing one game each to Long Beach St., Oklahoma, and Wichita St., ASU has dominated the competition with their stellar offensive lineup. ASU is led by Jeff Larish, who already has 11 home runs and an astounding 58 RBI. However, Larish is hurt and has only played once in the last four games, sidelined with back spasms. John Manuel at Baseball America says that Larish will likely suit up for the Sun Devils this weekend. He did have a few ABs on Wednesday. 

While the Cardinal's schedule has certainly been one of the most difficult in college baseball, ASU has not really been challenged. They won 2 of 3 from #5 Long Beach St., swept two games from now #19 Notre Dame, but other than that their schedule has been comparatively easy. This weekend should be a great test for both teams. Can the Cardinal continue to play as well as they did before the break and establish Pac-10 dominance, or will this be the year of Pat Murphy and the Sun Devils? 

STANFORD  

What a turnaround for the Cardinal in late February and early March from the start of the season. Even though Fullerton and Florida St. are two of the top teams in the country, when the Cardinal dropped 5 of 6 over the course of two weekends, there was some thought that maybe this team was a different Stanford team. But lets remember- early February is important, but playing well in May and June is what really matters. For Stanford, the early season miscues can hopefully be put well in the past, giving way for late season prowess. 

Watching this team in January practice, it was evident that up and down the lineup, it could be one of the most potent offenses that Mark Marquess has ever put together. After all, Jonny Ash, a player that hit over .300 in the CWS run of 2001, had trouble sneaking into the lineup and when he has played he has hit 7th or 8th. From Fuld and Hall at the top to the fearsome middle of Quentin, Garko, Mayberry, and Putnam, Stanford has started to hit in games like they have in practice all season. With a .314 team batting average, the Cardinal have given plenty of support to a pitching staff that has been consistent all year: the team ERA is now under 4. 

Leading the charge for the Cardinal is Carlos Quentin. While it took Quentin 20+ games to homer, the All-American right fielder is hitting .378 with an on-base percentage of .515. One of the reasons that Carlos has been able to produce lately has been the production of the top of the order. Sam Fuld and Brian Hall have consistently been on base during the last five games, and Fuld, who started the season 0-14, has raised his average up to .297. With John Mayberry, Jr.'s 14 game hit streak, it looks like the Cardinal have another outstanding hitter capable of knocking in runs behind Quentin and Garko, who has also played well lately, and leads the team in HRs. 

On the hill for the Cardinal, John Hudgins has been consistently very good with the exception of his start against USC. While he isn't overpowering like Jeremy Guthrie, Hudgins is one of the best pitchers in the conference and his control this year has been incredible. Ryan McCally is usually good for five innings for the second start, and Mark Romanczuk, who has emerged as the #3 starter in the absence of an injured Tim Cunningham, has upped his record to 5-0.  

Stanford should only improve now. Chris Carter and Tim Cunningham are scheduled to make the trip to Tempe and could play this weekend. Carter, who hit 8 HR and was the key to Stanford's 2002 late season surge, may see his first playing time of the year, although don't expect him to start. 

Probable Starting Lineup: 


  • C Ryan Garko:
2003: .333, 4 HR, 25 RBI. Cal Series: 5-12, 3 RBI.

  • 1B John Mayberry, Jr.

2003: .371, 3 HR, 17 RBI. Cal Series: 6-10, 2B, 3B, 5 RBI. 

  • 2B Chris Lewis

2003: .209, 1 HR, 9 RBI. Cal Series: 2-5, 4 BB, HBP. 

  • SS Tobin Swope

2003: .321, 0 HR, 7 RBI. Cal Series: 3-13, RBI. 

  • 3B Jonny Ash

    2003: .229, 0 HR, 3 RBI. Cal Series: 5-9, 2 2B. 

  • LF Brian Hall

2003: .310, 3 HR, 15 RBI. Cal Series: 5-13, 2 2B, 3B. 

  • CF Sam Fuld

2003: .297, 1 HR, 9 RBI. Cal Series: 6-12, 4 RBI. 


  • RF Carlos Quentin
2003: .378, 1 HR, 12 RBI. Cal Series: 5-11, HR, 6 RBI.

  • DH Danny Putnam

2003: .377, 4 HR, 19 RBI. Cal Series: 4-12, 3 RBI. 

 

 
Probable Rotation:

  • Sat: John Hudgins

    2003: 4-1. 3.35, 7 GS, 1 CG, 6 BB, 51 K, 51 IP

    Last Outing: W vs. Cal, CG, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 9 K.

Hudgins threw an outstanding complete game vs. Cal in which he shut down the Bears over the last 7 innings. Hudgins has been phenomenal as a starter: his one loss to USC outstanding. Hudgins outstanding control (6 BB) and strikeout/inning average gives the Cardinal the ace they need against the top starters in America. Last year against ASU, Hudgins took his only loss of the year, as the Sun Devils ripped him for 9 runs on 11 hits. 

  • Sun:  Ryan McCally

    2003: 3-1, 4.08 ERA, 7 G, 6 GS, 11 BB, 27 K, 39.2 IP

    Last Outing: W vs. Cal, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R/ER, 3 BB, 6 K

McCally has two consecutive wins and seems to be finding his form. Control has been much better the last few weeks, but McCally does hit a wall in the 5th or 6th innings in some of his starts. The experience of starting 6 games plus the break for final should be good for McCally's ability to go longer into games. 

  • Mon: Mark Romanczuk

    2003: 6-0, 3.65 ERA, 8 G, 2 GS, 14 BB, 25 K, 24.2 IP

    Last Outing: W vs. Cal, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K.

Romanczuk will make his third start in a row after making his first five appearances out of the bullpen. He has shown the ability to start the last two weeks and perform well in that roll. Romanczuk dominated early against Cal, striking out six in three innings, but lost a bit of touch in the zone later in the performance. 

  • Bullpen: LHP Tim Cunningham, RHP David O'Hagan, RHP Mark Jecmen, RHP Drew Ehrlich, RHP Kodiak Quick, RHP Matt Manship, RHP Billy Paganetti, RHP Jeff Gilmore.
 

 

Arizona St. 

What a start for Pat Murphy's Sun Devils. 31-3. A 19-game win streak earlier in the season. The continuation of their scoring streak: the Sun Devils have scored in an NCAA Record 467 games. And a #1 ranking in two of the four college baseball polls (Collegiate Baseball, ESPN). Clearly, the Sun Devils are much improved over their 2002 squad which finished 37-21, 15-9 in the Pac-10 before losing in the NCAA Regionals. ASU returns virtually their entire starting lineup, and loses only stater Mike Esposito from their rotation. 

Offensively, this team is a virtual tour de force. First basemen Jeff Larish and shortstop Dustin Pedroia are the main offensive contributors. Larish has a .420 batting average and an amazing 11 home runs and 58 RBI already in 2003. However, Larish is questionable this weekend after back spasms caused him to miss the final two games of last weekend's Oklahoma series and the first of two midweek games against the Wichita State Shockers. After a solid freshman campaign, Dustin Pedroia has started each game for ASU this season at SS and has played outstanding baseball. Pedroia is hitting .433 and has only committed 4 errors all season, posting a .974 fielding percentage. Jeremy West, ASU's DH, has hit 9 HRs this year, and Rod Allen, who has the second lowest batting average of any member of the Sun Devils starting lineup, has a .301 batting average! 

If ASU's offensive isn't enough, their pitching staff has been dominant as well. Ben Thurmond and Jered Liebeck, ASU's 1-2 starters, have combined for a perfect 9-0 record. The Sun Devils have an ERA of 3.06. And Ryan Schroyer, the Sun Devils' closer, has a 3-0 record, 6 saves, and has not allowed a earned run all season.  

The big knock on ASU through 34 games is their schedule. ASU started 2003 by sweeping six games from Hawaii-Hilo, a team who posted a 10-41 record in 2002. The Sun Devils have also played (and swept) teams such as San Diego St., BYU, Notre Dame, and Penn St. Notre Dame and Penn St. had their openers against the Sun Devils who already had 20 games of baseball under their belts at the time. However, ASU's series victory against Long Beach St. is extremely impressive and last weekend's 2 victories against Big XII Oklahoma is also a big series victory. Clearly, Stanford has played a much tougher schedule, but the Sun Devils will have a chance to both answer the critics of their early season schedule and establish Pac-10 supremacy with a series victory this weekend against Stanford. 

Key Losses:

  • RHP Mike Esposito: Ace starter went 9-6 last year in 17 starts.
  • OF Jon Sheaffer: Senior outfielder led ASU with a .364 average.
  • C Cesar Castillo: Walk-on catcher hit .305 after being awarded starting spot.

Key Returners:

  • SS Dustin Pedroia
  • 1B Jeff Larish
  • DH Jeremy West
  • RHP Jered Liebeck
  • RHP Ryan Schroyer
 

Probable Starting Lineup: 

    C Joel Bocchi (So, R/R, 5'11", 190)

    2003: .368, 2 HR, 20 RBI. 2002: .214 (6-28)

Bocchi has started most of the games for the Sun Devils, and his really played well offensively, and has thrown out a good percentage of runners attempting to steal. 

OR 

             C Tuffy Gosewisch (So, R/R, 5'10", 185)

    2003: .345, 0 HR, 16 RBI. 2002: .128 (5-39)

Gosewisch is a part time starter, splitting time with Bocchi. He has hit the ball well this year after limited playing time last year. Also one of the great names in college baseball. 

  • 1B Jeff Larish (So, L/R, 6'2", 180)

    2003: .420, 11 HR, 58 RBI 2002: .328, 3 HR, 24 RBI.

A tremendous start to his sophomore year for Larish after he almost didn't play at all last year. He played in about half the games for ASU last season, starting his first game in March. This year he has developed tremendous power and RBI potential and along with Jeff Clement at USC, has more home runs than anyone in America. However, Larish has sat out the last 3 of the last 4 games and may not play this weekend with back spasms. 

OR 

  • 1B Mike Guerrero (Jr., R/R, 6'2", 200)

    2003: .447, 1 HR, 18 RBI. 2002: South Mountain Community College

Guerrero will start at 1B if Larish is unable to go. Has started the last 4 at first base. 14 of 21 hits are for extra bases, including 11 doubles. He is hitting .447 in limited time. 

  • 2B Steve Garrabrants (Jr., R/R, 5'10", 173)

    2003: .352, 4 HR, 37 RBI. 2002: .337, 2 HR, 33 RBI.

Like a second leadoff hitter in the middle of the lineup, Garrabrants has swiped 13 of 16 bases attempted this season. A little like Chris O'Riordan in that he has good power and good gap power: 4 HR and 13 2B this season. Moves to 2B in 2003 after serving as the DH much of last season. 

  • SS Dustin Pedroia (So, R/R, 5'9", 175)

    2003: .433, 2 HR, 26 RBI. 2002: .347, 1 HR, 45 RBI.

Probably the key player for ASU, hitting at the top of the lineup and anchoring the infield. Pedroia's All Pac-10 2002 has so far continued into into 2003, as he leads ASU regulars in batting average. A fantastic shortstop, he has made only 4 errors this year. 

  • 3B Dennis Wyrick (Sr., R/R, 6'1", 215)

    2003: .394, 1 HR, 14 RBI.. 2002: .315, 0 HR, 10 RBI.

Wyrick is back on the team after ending 2002 on the suspension list for violating team rules. Has started about half the games at 3B, alternating with Frank Mesa, and has already topped his offensive numbers of last season. 

OR 

  • 3B Frank Mesa (So., L/R, 6'0", 180)

    2003: .391, 1 HR, 14 RBI.. 2002: Arizona Western CC

Mesa is listed as a utility player but has made about half the starts at 3B this season. A .506 on base percentage. 

  • LF Rod Allen (Jr., R/R, 6'2", 205)

    2003: .301, 4 HR, 30 RBI. 2002: .278, 6 HR, 50 RBI.

Allen lost about 100 points on his batting average last year after a huge 2001 in which he hit .389. This year, Allen was slated to start everyday in CF but has largely been replaced by Ryan Bosch and now Andrew Ethier. 

  • CF Andre Ethier (Jr., L/L, 6'3", 195)

    2003: .336, 1 HR, 26 RBI. 2002: .363, 4 HR, 50 RBI.

Tremendous rookie year for Ethier last season that was cut short by a broken thumb. A good start this year. Can also play right field. 

  • RF Travis Buck (Fr., L/R, 6'2", 190)

    2003: .368, 2 HR, 24 RBI. 2002: Redshirted.

Buck has done everything well offensively to start the season, hitting .368 and has knocked in 21. He has made 3 errors in the outfield. 

  • DH Jeremy West (Jr., R/R. 6'1", 200)

    2003: .308, 9 HR, 32 RBI. 2002: .356, 13 HR, 71 RBI.

Coming into the year, West was the best power threat for Pat Murphy and still is a huge threat. The Larish/West 3-4 combination in the lineup is one of the best in the conference.  

Probable Rotation: 

  • Sat: RHP Ben Thurmond (Sr., 6'0", 190)

    2003: 3-0, 3.41 ERA, 9 G, 5 GS, 4 BB, 29 K, 29.0 IP

    Last Outing: ND vs. Oklahoma, 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 6 K.

Pat Murphy has a history of not starting his #1 pitcher on Friday, and he does so this weekend with Thurmond. Good numbers so far however. Senior transfer from Winthrop who went 22-9 in three years. Fastball in the upper 80s, changeup, curveball. Good control. 

  • Sun: RHP Jared Liebeck (Sr., 6'1", 200)

    2003: 6-0, 2.40 ERA, 9 GS, 1 CG, 15 BB, 31 K

    Last Outing: W vs. Oklahoma, 5.1 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

The ace of the ASU rotation goes Saturday. Not overpowering- fastball in the 80s and a changeup. Took a ND vs. Cardinal last year in opening game, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings. 

  • Mon: LHP Erik Averill (Fr., 6'2", 180)

    2003: 6-0, 1.98 ERA, 9 G, 7 GS, 10 BB, 30 K, O/AVG .209

    Last Outing: W vs. Oklahoma, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Averill has been incredible his freshman year, with an ERA under 2. His brother Brandon is the starting 3B for UCLA.  

Bullpen: 

  • RHP Ryan Schroyer
  • RHP Mark Sopko
  • LHP Carlos Arguello
  • LHP Brett Bordes
  • RHP Beau Vaughan
 
The Last Time: 

5/10/02 Stanford 5, ASU 3

Andy Topham's 2 run HR in the 6th inning broke a 3-3 tie as Jeremy Guthrie went the distance, striking out 8 en route to his 8th victory. Jeff Larish hit a 3 run HR for the Sun Devils. 

5/11/02 ASU 10, Stanford 2

Arizona St. handed the Cardinal one of their worst losses of the year after the Sun Devils scored five runs in the first, led by Larish's 2 RBI single and Nick Cadena's 2 run HR. Mike Esposito won for ASU and John Hudgins gave up 9 runs in the loss. 

5/12/02 Stanford 3, ASU


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