College Baseball Roundup

The Stanford Cardinal moved back into sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 after a convincing sweep at USC last weekend. This week's Roundup has an in-depth look at that series, has all the latest from around the Pac-10, plus an updated "Super Sixteen." Also, check out the latest NCAA Tournament projections.

Pac-10 Standings :

                  Conf.  GB   Overall

Stanford          13-5    -    31-14
Arizona State     10-5   1.5   43-9
Arizona           11-7   2.0   33-17
Washington         8-7   3.5   31-14
USC                9-9   4.0   25-22
California        10-11  4.5   26-24

UCLA               7-8   4.5   22-26

Oregon State       5-13  8.0   19-24

Washington State   5-13  8.0   15-31

The Stanford Cardinal moved into sole possession of first place after a convincing sweep at USC.  Meanwhile, Arizona took 2-of-3 at home versus California.  The Wildcats easily won the first two games of the series before falling in 10 innings in the finale.  Arizona still has a great shot at the Pac-10 title despite being two games out with six left.  They're off this upcoming weekend, but then get Oregon State at home and then travel to Tempe for a three-game set with ASU during the last week of the season.  That certainly won't be an easy series to win, but if they do get at least 2-of-3, the Wildacts are likely looking at least a second place finish in the Pac-10.  Meanwhile, in other Pac-10 action last weekend, Washington won 2-of-3 at Washington State while UCLA took 2-of-3 at home versus Oregon State.

Arizona State is in a very interesting situation as they are off again this weekend while first place Stanford has another three-game series.  The Cardinal could really put the pressure on ASU if they capture another road series sweep at Cal this weekend.  The Sun Devils will play Oregon State in Corvallis next Monday-Wednesday, 12th-14th.  They'll just stay in the northwest as they head up to Seattle for three games the next weekend (while Stanford is hosting UCLA).  It will be interesting to see how ASU handles playing six very important Pac-10 games in eight days starting next Monday.

In Pac-10 action this weekend it's a very light week with only two series'.  Stanford travels to Berkeley for a three-game set with Cal.  The Bears, who are playing their final series of the year, need a sweep to finish above .500 in Pac-10 play and be in contention for an NCAA Tournament berth.  The other conference series next weekend pits Washington against UCLA in Los Angeles.  The Huskies, who have a sub-par RPI for a team with a 31-14 overall record, need a series win badly to stay in contention for the postseason.

Last Week in Review :

The week got off to a terrible start for the Cardinal as they lost a 2-0 decision at home to Santa Clara on Tuesday night.  Stanford didn't muster a hit until the sixth inning and finished with only four on the night.  Tim Cunningham got the start and started nicely with two shutout innings, but ran into some trouble in the third inning as he gave up two runs and was pulled.  The Cardinal relievers (Quick, Jecmen, Paganetti, and O'Hagan) did their jobs, but Stanford the offense was non-existent.

Then came the offense.  Stanford erupted for 22 runs on 19 hits on Saturday in the first game of the series with USC (22-10 win).  The game was actually tied at 6 after six innings and then the Cardinal scored five in the seventh, seven in the eighth, and four in the ninth to take control of the game.  John Mayberry, Jr. finished the day 5-for-6 with a home run and six RBI while Ryan Garko contributed four hits, a homer, and three RBI.  The 22 runs was a season-high for the Cardinal.  On the mound, John Hudgins struggled as he gave up six runs (five earned) in five innings, but the offense certainly picked him up.

Stanford won the opener of Sunday's doubleheader by an 8-3 score as Mark Romanczuk went the distance on the mound yielding just three runs on three hits.  He walked six and struck out five and improved his record to 9-0 on the year.  At the plate, Sam Fuld led the charge with a 4-for-5 performance including a big two-run triple in the second inning.

The second game of the doubleheader was the Ryan Garko show as the senior catcher went 4-for-4 with two homers and seven RBI in Stanford's 8-3 win.  Garko is now hitting .393 on the year with a team-high 13 homers and 64 RBI.  Freshman closer Matt Manship made his first start of the season and threw very well as he went 7 2/3 innings yielding three runs on eight hits.

It was quite a weekend for the Cardinal as it seems that every year Stanford turns it up a notch once the calendar flips to May.  The hitters put on quite a show as the Cardinal pushed across 38 runs in the three games as Garko led the way with 10 hits in 13 at-bats including three homers and 11 RBI.  We know about the big hitters in the middle of the order, but some of the guys near the bottom performed very well.  Freshman second baseman Jed Lowrie isn't flashy, but he gets the job done.  Four hits, three RBI, and perfect defense from Lowrie last weekend.  He's now hitting a solid .322 this year.  Mayberry, Jr. appears to have broken out of his slump as he rapped out eight hits over the weekend to put his average at .317.  At the top of the lineup, Sam Fuld is again showing signs of life as he had a huge doubleheader with five hits.  All in all, a great weekend hitting wise for Stanford.  It was also a solid series defensively for the Cardinal as they committed only one error over the three games.

On the mound, John Hudgins struggled, but it was bound to happen some time after so many great starts this year.  On the plus side, Mark Romanczuk continued to dazzle with a three-hit complete game on Sunday.  His control wasn't great, but the Trojans obviously couldn't muster much offense off of him.  Matt Manship made his first career start in the second game of the twinbill and like Romanczuk, had some control problems, but he did work through them.  Only three runs allowed in 7 2/3 innings.  We'll see if this is a permenant thing for Stanford as I'm sure Coach Marquess would love to keep Manship in the bullpen as a closer.  I would expect Tim Cunningham to start on Tuesday against San Jose State and if he pitches well, he may be considered for the Sunday start next weekend.  In the ideal situation, Cunningham figures things out and gets back in the rotation while Manship and McCally form a lethal 1-2 punch in the bullpen.

"Super Sixteen" National Rankings :

                       Record     Pvs.

1. Florida State        40-8       2
    * Seminoles move into the top spot as Fullerton falters and FSU takes 2-of-3 at Georgia Tech.

2. Rice                 40-7       3
    * Idle Owls move up one spot.

3. Cal State Fullerton  38-11      1
    * Titans upset in Riverside as the Highlanders sweep Fullerton.

4. Stanford             31-14      5
    * Cardinal back on track after a convincing sweep at USC.

5. Texas                37-14      6
    * Longhorns remain in first place in the Big 12 (tied with Nebraska in the loss column) after taking 2-of-3 at Kansas.

6. Arizona State        43-9       7
    * Sun Devils won a midweek game at Oklahoma then had the weekend off.

7. Long Beach State     32-14      8
    * 49ers now in first place in the Big West after sweeping Pacific.

8. Nebraska             36-13      4
    * Cornhuskers win a pair of midweek games, but then drop 2-of-3 at home to Louisiana-Lafayette.

9. Auburn               34-14      9
    * Tigers back on track as they win 2-of-3 at home versus Florida.

10. Texas A&M           35-13     10
    * Aggies had the weekend off.

11. Miami               32-11     13
    * Hurricanes sweep Pace, who came in with a 9-32 record, by a combined score of 70-4.

12. Arizona             33-17     14
    * Wildcats with a 3-1 week including a series win at home against California.

13. Mississippi State   33-13     15
    * Bulldogs pick up a huge series win as they take 2-of-3 from LSU in Starkville.

14. LSU                 32-16     12
    * Tigers still in first, but now not by much, after losing 2-of-3 at Mississippi State.

15. N.C. State          38-12     11
    * Wolf Pack with a bad series loss as they dropped 2-of-3 at home to Maryland.

16. Baylor              34-17      NR
    * Bears back in the "Super Sixteen" after six wins in a row including a sweep of Kansas State last weekend.

Dropped Out : Notre Dame (36-12, 2-3 last week)

NCAA Tournament Projections :

Here's an updated look at the top of the standings of the major conferences (RPI rankings are in parentheses - these are rankings prior to this past weekend's games)...

Stanford  13-5   -   31-14  (10)
ASU       10-5  1.5  43-9   (21)
Arizona   11-7  2.0  33-17  (28)

FSU       13-5   -   40-8   (1)
N.C. St.  14-7  0.5  38-12  (8)
G. Tech   12-6  1.0  33-13  (9)

LSU       16-7   -   32-16  (7)
Auburn    15-9  1.5  34-14  (2)
Miss St.  14-9  2.0  33-13  (15)

BIG 12
Texas     18-6   -   37-14  (12)
Nebraska  15-6  1.5  36-13  (14)
Texas A&M 14-7  2.5  35-13  (17)

LBSU      12-3   -   32-14  (20)
Fullerton 11-4  1.0  38-11  (5)
UC River. 11-4  1.0  36-12

Rice      19-2   -   40-7   (4)

Miami     32-11   (3)

The postseason picture is becoming a little clearer as "Selection Monday" is only three weeks away.  Fullerton getting swept at UC Riverside was a shock and it certainly shakes up the national seed outlook.  Riverside, by the way, is now in the NCAA Tournament as the Big West's third and final team (a possible #2 or #3 seed in Stanford's regional?).  Florida State takes over the #1 national seed as they now sit atop the ACC and have the #1 RPI and poll ranking.  The Seminoles now have series wins this year at Stanford, at Miami, vs. Miami, and at Georgia Tech.  Their only series loss was at N.C. State.  As for the multiple bid conferences, in terms of national seeds, I really believe that both Stanford and Arizona State deserve national seeds if the season ended today.  The Pac-10 is one of the top two of three strongest conferences this year and with the records those two teams have put up in conference and non-confernece play, they deserve to be among the top 8.  

Now, what about the Big West?  Long Beach State has moved out ahead of Fullerton by one game after the Titans' slip-up last weekend.  I'm hard pressed to believe that there will be four west coast national seeds among the top 8, so as of now, I'm putting Fullerton among the top 8 on the strength of their series win at LBSU a month ago and their stronger RPI.  Keep in mind though that Fullerton hosts The Beach for a three-game set in two weeks.

I'd like to give two Big 12 schools (Texas and Nebraska) national seeds right now, but the top two teams in the SEC (LSU and Auburn) both have higher RPI's, so I'll go with two SEC national seeds.  Here are my current national seed projections ...

1. Florida State
2. Rice
3. Texas
4. Cal State Fullerton
5. Stanford
6. Arizona State
7. LSU
8. Auburn

Teams that are close ... Long Beach State, Nebraska, Miami, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, N.C. State.

Up Next for Stanford :

Four more road games for the Cardinal this week.  On Tuesday, Stanford heads down the 101 to take on the San Jose State Spartans (22-25) for a single non-conference game.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm.  This weekend, it's the Cardinal and Golden Bears from Evans Diamond in Berkeley.  Friday will be an afternoon tilt starting at 2:30pm while Saturday's and Sunday's games will get underway at 1:00pm.  That series is final three-game series of the year for Cal.


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