Cal Poly Preview

While the Pac-10 title is wrapped up and the postseason seeding is all but locked down, the Cardinal still have three games left in the regular season against the Cal Poly Mustangs. Still, the Cardinal would love to go into the 2003 NCAA Tournament on a winning note, while Cal Poly hopes to give first year Head Coach Larry Lee a winning season. Read on for the final regular season preview of the year.


Cal Poly (27-25-1) vs. #5 Stanford (38-15)

Friday: 6:00 PM
Saturday: 1:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM
*All games will be played at Sunken Diamond and are Pacific Daylight Time.

Very little drama remains in the 2003 regular season for the Cardinal. As the #5 team in America, Stanford has won the program's first outright Pac-10 Title since 1999. The Cardinal have achieved a top 10 national ranking, which should allow them to garner a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, giving them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This weekend, its all about rolling into the tournament with momentum, and getting players healthy for the stretch run.

The Big West's Cal Poly comes into town at 27-25-1, finishing fourth in the Big West Conference behind Long Beach St., Cal St. Fullerton, and UC Riverside. Former Cal Poly coach Ritch Price left for a head coaching position in the Big XII (Kansas) and first-year head coach Larry Lee has led the Mustangs to a possible winning season, if they can beat Stanford two of three this weekend. It will certainly a tough test for the Mustangs: they are 5-40 against the Cardinal all time.


STANFORD

In dramatic fashion, the Cardinal won the conference title on Sunday with a walk-off home run by Donny Lucy in the bottom half of the 10th inning. While Stanford took two of three from UCLA last weekend, the Bruins put up a very good fight last weekend in the final two games of the series. They won Game 2 in twelve innings and took the Cardinal to a deciding Game 3, which also went to extra innings.

Ryan Garko hurt his hand diving into third base on Saturday, and made only a pinch-hitting appearance on Sunday (hit a game tying Sac Fly). Garko's health and the health of a few other players will be of utmost importance this weekend. Fifty-three games into the year, players are bound to get banged up a little, and Garko and others certainly have their fair share of minor knocks. However, Garko is expected to play this weekend, if only at DH.

The Cardinal are also chasing some team and individual marks. Stanford is looking for its 8th straight 40 win season, needing two wins this weekend to achieve that mark. Individually, Ryan Garko is chasing the program's single-season RBI mark (currently 10th all time with 74), Carlos Quentin will try to continue his quest for .400, and Sam Fuld is looking to move up on the list on all-time highest batting average at Stanford University.

Sunday at Sunken Diamond will be a time to honor the seniors for a great four years. The Class of 2003 has been critical in the success of each of the last four teams.

First, Tobin Swope. The consummate team player, Swope never complained during his first three years when he was limited to just five starts and a handful of appearances before 2003. But he has been tremendous at SS and has surprised with the bat.

Tim Cunningham's career has had its share of peaks and valleys, but Cunningham has proved critical in the stretch run of the 2000, 2001, and 2002 NCAA Tournament, and will be this year again. Cunningham is the active leader in wins with a 23-8 career record.

Ryan McCally's role has changed from primary reliever to starter and back to reliever. One of the reasons that Stanford was able to succeed in the 2002 postseason, McCally is 12-6 in four years.

Finally, Ryan Garko. Garko barely played in 2000, but matured in four years to the point where he may be crowned Team MVP in 2003. A Johnny Bench semifinalist, Garko's offense prowess is what most people will remember but what people forget is Garko's improvement behind the plate and team leadership. Garko, and each of the seniors, will be missed.

Probable Starting Lineup:

CF Sam Fuld (.331, 2 HR, 29 RBI).
6-12 vs. UCLA as Fuld heats up. 11 game hit streak.

3B Brian Hall (.297, 4 HR, 36 RBI).
6-11 vs. UCLA- Hall is the streakiest hitter on the team and is hot.

RF Carlos Quentin (.393, 8 HR, 47 RBI).
Average now below .400 but in midst of a 10 game hit streak.

DH/C Ryan Garko (.388, 14 HR, 74 RBI)
Bruised hand may limit him to DH duty but even below 100% he will probably be in the lineup.

LF Danny Putnam (.355, 11 HR, 43 RBI)
Putnam's huge Sunday (2 HR, 3 RBI) helped to clinch the Pac-10 outright.

2B Jed Lowrie (.305, 0 HR, 18 RBI)
Just one hit in his last 16 AB for Lowrie but has played good defense.

C/DH Donny Lucy (.274, 2 HR, 13 RBI)
Walkoff HR gave Stanford win on Sunday. May catch at least first two with lefties on hill.

1B John Mayberry, Jr. (.308, 4 HR, 33 RBI)
Struggled vs. UCLA, going without hits on Saturday and Sunday.

SS Tobin Swope (.291, 0 HR, 27 RBI)
Also struggling: 1-8 vs. UCLA and just 3 for last 24.

Probable Starting Rotation:

Friday RHP John Hudgins (8-3, 3.30 ERA, 16 GS)
Another CG for Hudgins vs. UCLA gives him 5 in 2003. Great outing after 2 subpar games.

Saturday LHP Mark Romanczuk (9-0, 3.70 ERA, 17G/11 GS)
Could have been 10-0 but Card couldn't hold lead on Saturday. Went 8.1 innings vs. UCLA.

Sunday LHP Tim Cunningham (2-3, 5.70 ERA, 10 GS)
So-so performance on Sunday vs. UCLA in no-decision but probably gets nod again.

Bullpen: RHP Matt Manship (2-4. 3.40 ERA, 7 S)
RHP David O'Hagan (6-1, 5.53 ERA, 22 G)
RHP Ryan McCally (5-2, 5.27 ERA, 19 G)
RHP Kodiak Quick (2-0, 4.83 ERA, 21 G)


CAL POLY

The Big West's fourth-place team comes to Sunken Diamond to wrap up their first season under head coach Larry Lee. Lee, formerly the head man at Cuesta College, has the Mustangs within reach of a .500 or better season, needing a win this weekend to get to .500 and a series win to finish with a winning record.

Poly has hovered around .500 for most of the year. They got off to a good start in Big West play- after going 4-2 with series wins over UC Riverside and Pacific, the Mustangs stumbled facing Long Beach St. and Fullerton, dropping all six games. Earlier this season, the Mustangs lost a series to San Jose St. but beat Santa Clara in two out of three games. But the schedule has been tough for Cal Poly. They played just 20 of their 56 games at home this year.

While the Mustangs don't have incredible power, they are a decent hitting club with a .296 team average. Lead by CF Sam Herbert (.353, 2 HR, 30 RBI) and 2B Adam Leavitt (.340, 0 HR, 25 RBI), the Mustangs have four players hitting over .300. Their team ERA is 5.24, but one thing to consider is this: Cal Poly will start two lefties during the first two games and the Cardinal are just 8-7 vs. lefties this season.

Cal Poly has recently been plagued by injury, as starter Tyler Fitch, reliever Nolan Moser, SS Scott Anderson, RF Chalon Tietje, and OF Pat Breen have all missed time recently.

Probable Starting Lineup:

CF Sam Herbert (.353, 2 HR, 30 RBI
Not a lot of power and doesn't walk much but leads the team in BA and is 2nd in SB (13).

LF Billy Saul (.335, 2 HR, 31 RBI)
Saul is third on the team in hitting and has 16 multi-hit games.

2B Adam Leavitt (.340, 0 HR, 25 RBI)
Leavitt leads Mustangs in SB with 21 and plays good defense at 2B.

RF Pat Breen (.321, 10 HR, 48 RBI)
Breen leads Cal Poly in HR and slugging %. Suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday.

3B Josh Mayo (.292, 2 HR, 26 RBI)
Has played SS and 3B and has a whopping 23 errors and an .866 fielding percentage.

1B Kyle Wilson (.254, 6 HR, 33 RBI)
Average is down about 100 points off his .361 sophomore mark.

DH Alex Chavarria (.289, 8 HR, 32 RBI)
Second in homers and can play 1B as well.

C Cory Taillon (.293, 0 HR, 14 RBI)
Has started the last 18 behind the dish.

SS Scott Anderson (..289, 0 HR, 24 RBI)
Anderson is just returning from a skin infection injury to his ankle.

Probable Pitching Rotation:

Friday LHP Josh Kougl (1-8, 5.18 ERA)
First ten appearances: five no-decisions and five losses. Did go 8 innings in a 2-1 loss to Long Beach St.

Saturday LHP Garrett Olson (5-2, 3.89 ERA)
Freshman lefty combined on a no-hitter earlier in the year.

Sunday RHP Andrew McDaniel (1-3, 7.62 ERA)
Likely will start rather than Tyler Fitch, who is out with a groin pull.


The Last Time:

3/1/02 Stanford 8, Cal Poly 6
While Cal Poly scored 4 in the ninth to make it close, the Cardinal hung on. Sam Fuld had three hits.

3/2/02 Stanford 18, Cal Poly 5
Stanford scored eight times in the second and ten times in the first three innings. Garko, Carter, Topham, and Cooper homered for Stanford.

3/3/02 Stanford 11, Cal Poly 3
The Cardinal completed a sweep of the Mustangs with John Hudgins' second victory. Stanford led 9-0 after two innings.


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