NCAA Regionals Preview: Part I

They said it couldn't be done. Stanford was decimated after last season and would need time to rebuild. Au contraire, the Card have held the #1 ranking this season and landed a #4 seeding in the NCAAs, ready to host this weekend's regional. JJ looks at the Cardinal and visiting Dirtbags in Part I.

PALO ALTO REGIONAL

1. Stanford (42-14)
2. Long Beach State (35-21)
3. Texas (34-24)
4. Marist (32-19-1)

Friday's Schedule :
Game 1 - Long Beach State vs. Texas, 3pm
Game 2 - Stanford vs. Marist, 7pm

Saturday's Schedule :
Game 3 - Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 11am
Game 4 - Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 3pm
Game 5 - Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 7pm

Sunday's Schedule :
Game 6 - Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1pm
Game 7 - Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 5pm (if necessary)

all games at Sunken Diamond


It's that time of year again.  Once again, the Stanford Cardinal are hosting a regional after a stellar regular season.  This year, Stanford welcomes two familiar faces and one unknown.  The Long Beach State 49ers earned the number two seed and return to Sunken Diamond after playing in Stanford's regional back in 1998.  3rd seeded Texas has become a regular opponent of the Cardinal as the teams have met in a non-conference series in each of the last four seasons.  Rounding out the field is the #4 seed Marist College.  The Red Foxes, out of the MAAC Conference, have never played at Sunken Diamond.


1. STANFORD CARDINAL (42-14, 17-7 in the Pac-10)

The Cardinal completed another successful regular season last weekend with a convincing sweep of the Washington State Cougars.  Unfortunately it wasn't enough for a conference title, but Stanford finished with a very respectable 17-7 record in Pac-10 play, only one game behind first-place USC.  The Cardinal struggled early to a 2-3 record but then went on a tear through February and March to claim the #1 national ranking.  After a sweep of Oregon State on the first weekend of April, Stanford's record stood at 31-7 and the Cardinal were looking like a national title contender.  After a rough stretch in April that saw Stanford go 2-5 and fall into second place in the conference, the Cardinal have turned it around.  Stanford won nine of their last 11 games in which they hit .374 over that stretch of games.

Across the board this is a very dangerous team, but it all starts with pitching.  Stanford's starting pitching trio of Jeremy Guthrie, Jeff Bruksch, and Mike Gosling are a combined 26-7 this season with a 2.90 ERA.  The Cardinal's team ERA has stayed below 3.50 all year while their team fielding percentage is set to brake the school record.  Stanford has by far the most power of any team in this regional and it all starts with the trio of Chris O'Riordan, Carlos Quentin, and Jason Cooper.  O'Riordan leads the team in batting average, runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases, walks, and stolen bases.  Quentin, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, leads the club with 11 home runs and is batting .352.  Cooper, who missed 21 games this season with a knee injury, is only two home runs off the team lead and is averaging more than one RBI per game.

Probable Starting Lineup -
C - Ryan Garko (.357, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 0 SB)
1B - Arik VanZandt (.275, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 9 SB)
2B - Chris O'Riordan (.379, 10 HR, 63 RBI, 15 SB)
3B - Andy Topham (.266, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 9 SB)
SS - Scott Dragicevich (.338, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 6 SB)
LF - Jason Cooper (.321, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 2 SB)
CF - Sam Fuld (.346, 0 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB)
RF - Carlos Quentin (.352, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 5 SB)
DH - Jonny Ash (.282, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB)

Starting Pitchers -
RHP - Jeremy Guthrie (10-4, 2.72 ERA, 109 1/3 IP, 36 BB, 110 SO)
RHP - Jeff Bruksch (9-3, 2.93 ERA, 110 2/3 IP, 21 BB, 97 SO)
LHP - Mike Gosling (7-0, 3.17 ERA, 59 2/3 IP, 18 BB, 59 SO)
LHP - Tim Cunningham (5-0, 3.95 ERA, 66 IP, 38 BB, 45 SO)



2. LONG BEACH STATE 49ERS (35-21, 11-7 in the Big West)

The Long Beach State 49ers (a.k.a. the Dirtbags as they like to be called) return to Sunken Diamond as the number two seed.  The Dirtbags traveled to Palo Alto back in 1998 and upset Stanford on their way to a College World Series berth.  Long Beach State has struggled recently as they've gone only 6-8 in their last 14 games, but a tough schedule along with a high RPI ensured the Beach of a high seed.

The Dirtbags are the ultimate small ball team.  They've hit only 30 home runs this season and aren't afraid to steal a base.  They finished the regular season with 74 swipes in over 100 attempts.  They also will manufacture a lot of runs as evident by their 71 sacrifice bunts.  Their starting pitchers aren't spectacular, but are very solid.  A strength of this team is their bullpen as reliever Josh Alliston has saved ten games this year.  At the plate, the Dirtbags really have only three power threats. Centerfielder Jeff Jones (10 homers), shortstop Bobby Crosby (8), and rightfielder Paul Macaluso (5) have combined to hit 23 of Long Beach State's 30 home runs.  Jones is the top hitter with a .351 average while first baseman Jeremy Reed has stolen a team leading 23 bases.

Probable Starting Lineup -
C - Bryan Kennedy (.274, 0 HR, 38 RBI, 2 SB)
1B - Jeremy Reed 9.348, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 23 SB)
2B - Kaulana Kuhaulua (.237, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 11 SB)
3B - Edgar Varela (.262, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB)
SS - Bobby Crosby (.343, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 10 SB)
LF - Chris Wright (.319, 0 HR, 35 RBI, 8 SB)
CF - Jeff Jones (.351, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 5 SB)
RF - Paul Macaluso (.319, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB)
DH - Mike Hofius (.299, 0 HR, 17 RBI, 2 SB)

Starting Pitchers -
RHP - Matt Paz (8-7, 4.07 ERA, 101 2/3 IP, 26 BB, 64 SO)
RHP - Nate Beucler (3-1, 4.12 ERA, 78 2/3 IP, 26 BB, 62 SO)
RHP - Joey Pace (RHP; 5-2, 4.35 ERA, 41 1/3 IP, 23 BB, 32 SO)


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