Conf. GB Overall
18-6 - 38-15
Arizona State 13-7 3.0 47-11
Arizona 13-7 3.0 35-17
Washington 11-9 5.0 36-16
USC 11-10 5.5 28-24
UCLA 9-12 7.5 26-30
California 10-14 8.0 28-27
Washington State 6-15 10.5 18-35
Oregon State 6-17 11.5 22-28
The Stanford Cardinal clinched the Pac-10 championship
last weekend with a 2-of-3 series win at home versus UCLA. It's their
first conference title since 2000. The battle for second place has heated
up as Arizona State and Arizona sport identical 13-7 league records with
four conference games to play. Both teams wrap-up their respective weekend
series' on Monday. ASU has split the first two games with Washington
up in Seattle while Arizona has taken two straight from Oregon State. Meanwhile,
USC won 2-of-3 at home over Washington State this past weekend.
The conference is certainly hoping to get five teams into
the tournament this season. Stanford, ASU, and Arizona are locks while
both Washington and USC are "on the bubble." Washington could really
benefit from a win on Monday versus ASU. USC probably just needs to
finish above .500 with their very solid RPI ranking. The Huskies and
the Trojans meet up for a three-game series in Seattle this weekend. In
other action, Arizona State hosts Arizona in what should be an entertaining
series. The Sun Devils will almost certainly host a regional, but need
a very strong finish to garner one of the eight national seeds. One
final series in the Pac-10 this weekend pits UCLA against Washington State
Last Week in Review :
Another solid week for the Cardinal as they go 3-1 and claim their first conference title in three years. On Tuesday, Stanford posted a 10-1 victory over Saint Mary's in their final midweek game of the regular season. Brian Hall (3-for-5, 2 RBI) and Ryan Garko (2-for-2, 4 RBI) paced the offense while Mark Jecmen picked up his first collegiate win of his career with three solid innings (one run allowed and 4 K's) to start the game. While it's highly unlikely that we'll see Jecmen in the late innings of a close game, his recent performances on the mound could give him some middle relief work in the postseason.
The weekend games were once again very exciting as the
Cardinal took 2-of-3 from UCLA. On Friday, John Hudgins returned to
form with a four-hit complete game in Stanford's 9-1 victory. The junior
righthander walked three and struck out ten to record his eighth win of the
season. At the plate, the Cardinal combined for 15 hits with every
starter contributing. Jonny Ash rapped out three base hits while Carlos
Quentin drove home three.
Saturday's game was a heartbreaker for the Cardinal as
they took a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning only to fall by a 9-5 score in
12. Mark Romanczuk had another good outing as the freshman southpaw
worked into the ninth inning allowing four runs. The Bruins tied the
game in the ninth against Matt Manship with a pair of seeing-eye singles
and won the game in the 12th with four unearned runs (thanks to two Stanford
errors) on a grand slam. The game also featured numerous base running
mistakes on the part of the Cardinal.
In front of a season-high crowd 3,338, Stanford won a 9-8
thriller in ten innings on Sunday to capture the conference championship.
The Cardinal trailed 8-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but
a Danny Putnam two-run homer in the seventh and a Ryan Garko sacrifice fly
in the eighth tied the game up. Then in the bottom of the tenth, Donny
Lucy smoked a home run off the scoreboard in left center field to give Stanford
the victory. Ryan McCally picked up the win on the mound with four
shutout innings of relief.
While Saturday's loss was certainly a tough pill to swallow,
Sunday's game more than made up for it. Saturday hopefully was just
a minor setback in the stretch run this year that's bound to happen to a baseball
team every once in awhile. What possibly could have been the worst
thing about that game was the injury to catcher Ryan Garko as he hurt his
hand when he went sliding headfirst into third base. Garko was removed
from the game and then didn't start on Sunday. Fortunately, the senior
did take batting and infield practice before Sunday's game and also made
a pinch-hitting appearance as he flied out to the wall in left. All
these factors would indicate that it's not a major injury. Junior rightfielder
Carlos Quentin is also a bit banged up with a right shoulder injury, but
played through it and went 4-for-14 with a homer and six RBI over the three
games versus UCLA. With no midweek game this week and a much less important
series this weekend, you hope that those two stars will get time to relax
and get as healthy as possible.
Some of the positives this weekend included the outstanding
performance by John Hudgins on Friday night. Stanford's ace starter
had suffered through two sub-par outings prior to this weekend, but he rebounded
in a big way with his four-hit complete game against UCLA. Brian Hall
is also hot again as he went 9-for-16 in this week's games. Expect to
see Brian back in more of an everyday role as the coaching staff, you would
think, would want to take advantage of his hot bat. Chris Carter blasted
two more homers this weekend which solidifies his spot in the lineup, at
least against right handed pitching. And of course, you can't forget
about Donny Lucy. The sophomore started at catcher in place of Garko
on Sunday and went 3-for-5 with the game-winning home run. Assuming
Garko gets healthy, I would imagine we'll be seeing a Carter/Lucy platoon
at the DH position (Carter starts versus righties, Lucy versus lefties). Danny
Putnam had been slumping a bit until 3-for-5, two homer, three RBI performance
on Sunday. The sophomore left fielder is second on the club with 11
homers and third on the team with 43 RBI and a .355 average. After
a couple of rocky relief outings, Ryan McCally also appears to have turned
things around with his scoreless inning of work on Tuesday versus Saint Mary's
and then his four shutout frames (2 hits allowed and 6 K's) against the Bruins
on Sunday. Finally, the man at the top of the order continues to quietly
go about his business. Sam Fuld recorded multi-hit games in all three
contests this weekend, is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak and
finished with a .362 average in Pac-10 play. Sounds like another all-conference
season for the junior centerfielder.
"Super Sixteen" National Rankings :
1. Florida State
* Seminoles claim ACC title after three-game sweep at Duke.
* Owls are the WAC champs after taking 2-of-3 at San Jose State last weekend.
3. Cal State Fullerton
* Titans win their second series of the year over Long Beach (won 2-of-3 last weekend), but still finish one game behind the 49ers in the Big West.
* Cardinal are the Pac-10 champs with their series victory over UCLA.
* Cornhuskers win a very competitive Big 12 after taking 2-of-3 from Baylor last weekend.
6. Arizona State
* Sun Devils with a 3-2 week that includes a series win at Oregon State and a series spilt (thus far) at Washington.
7. Long Beach State
* 49ers win the Big West crown despite losing 2-of-3 at Fullerton.
8. Texas A&M
* Aggies with a huge series win over Texas last weekend to garner the #2 seed in the Big 12 conference tournament.
* Longhorns fall back after dropping 2-of-3 to A&M.
* Tigers are the SEC champs after winning 2-of-3 at Arkansas over the weekend.
* Wildcats have notched a pair of wins over Oregon State and will go for the sweep on Monday.
* Tigers struggled somewhat in the second half, but end the regular season with a 2-of-3 series win versus Mississippi.
State 38-16 14
* Bulldogs finish 4-1 last week which includes a series win at home against Alabama.
* Hurricanes up a couple of spots after a four-game sweep of Savannah State.
15. Georgia Tech
* Yellow Jackets back in the poll after winning 2-of-3 from N.C. State.
* Bears played Nebraska tough in Lincoln, but still lost 2-of-3.
: N.C. State (39-14, 1-2 last week)
Conference Races / NCAA Tournament Projections :
Here's an updated look at the top of the standings of
the major conferences. All the conference champions have been crowned
as the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 have completed their regular seasons (conference
tourney's start this week), the Pac-10 and the WAC champions have been decided
while Big West play has also finished. (RPI rankings are in parentheses
- these are rankings prior to this past weekend's games)...
Stanford 18-6 - 38-15 (4)
ASU 13-7 3.0 47-11 (21)
Arizona 13-7 3.0 35-17 (23)
* Stanford has won the title while Arizona State and Arizona
will play each other this weekend for second place.
FSU 19-5 - 47-8 (1)
G. Tech 17-7 2.0 39-15 (3)
N.C. St. 14-7 2.0 39-14 (12)
* Florida State claims the conference championship with
a stellar 19-5 league mark. Georgia Tech needs a very strong showing
in the ACC tournament for this conference to garner two national seeds.
LSU 20-9 - 37-18 (6)
Auburn 18-12 2.5 38-17 (2)
Miss St. 17-12 3.0 38-16 (17)
S. Caro. 19-11 - 38-18 (22)
* LSU is the champ in the SEC with a strong finish in
league play. It's a down year in this conference in terms of national
title contenders. The Tigers are a national seed right now (you would
think), but a slip-up early in their conference tournament could cost them.
Nebraska 20-7 - 42-14 (14)
Texas A&M 19-8 1.0 41-15 (13)
Texas 19-8 1.0 38-16 (8)
* Very close finish in this race with Nebraska coming
out on top. The Cornhuskers, on the strength of their conference title,
should garner a national seed. This conference is deserving of two
national seeds and the edge probably goes to A&M after their series win
over Texas this past weekend. This conference tournament is going to
be one to watch.
LBSU 16-5 - 37-16 (16)
Fullerton 15-6 1.0 43-13 (9)
* I don't see how the committee could not give both these
teams national seeds. Long Beach won the conference and has a strong
non-conference resume (series wins over LSU and Baylor). Meanwhile,
Fullerton won the season-series over The Beach 4-2 and has a stronger RPI
(their sweep of Stanford was huge). The Titans are done with the regular
season while Long Beach still has a three-game set with Miami.
Rice 23-4 - 46-9 (5)
* The Owls clinched the WAC title last weekend and are a guaranteed national seed.
Here are my national seed projections for this week ...
4. Cal State Fullerton
6. Long Beach State
8. Texas A&M
Florida State, Rice, and Stanford are slam dunk national seeds right now. Nebraska is a national seed after winning the Big 12 regular season crown. LSU may need a strong showing in the SEC Tournament to hold onto their national seed. I'm giving the edge to Texas A&M over Texas and Arizona State right now, but the Longhorns (Big 12 tournament) and the Sun Devils (series with Arizona) still have time to get back into the top 8.
Next Sunday night : my final "Super Sixteen" of the year
plus one last look at my projected national seeds and which teams the committee
may send out to Stanford's regional.
Up Next for Stanford :
The regular season comes to an end this weekend as the
Cardinal host the Cal Poly Mustangs for a three-game series. Cal Poly
finished with a 9-12 record in Big West play which was actually good for
4th place while their overall record stands at 27-25-1. First pitch
on Friday is scheduled for 6:00pm (fireworks night at Sunken) while Saturday's
and Sunday's games will get started at 1:00pm.