#3 Seed UC Riverside (40-15) vs. #2 Seed Richmond (46-13)
Friday 2:00 PM: #3 UC Riverside vs. #2 Richmond
Friday 6:00 PM: #4 UIC vs. #1 Stanford
Saturday 11:00 AM: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Saturday 3:00 PM: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Saturday 7:00 PM Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser
Sunday 1:00 PM: Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner
Saturday 5:00 PM: Game 6 Rematch if both teams have 1 loss
*All Games will be played at Sunken Diamond.
Part 1 of the Regional Preview examined the #1 Stanford Cardinal and the #4 University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. However, before that contest gets underway, two very, very good teams matchup in Game 1 of the Stanford Regional: UC Riverside and Richmond. UC Riverside comes to Stanford as the only team in the 4-team Regional that qualified as an at-large team, finishing third in a strong Big West Conference (behind Long Beach St. and Cal. St. Fullerton). The Highlanders are just three weeks removed from a sweep of the Titans, but are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Richmond Spiders have quality tournament experience, as in 2002 they were just one win away from making a College World Series appearance, losing to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Game 3 of the Super Regionals.
This preview will give an overview of each team and preview their starting lineups and rotation. Both teams have not announced starters for the weekend, although Richmond has listed a tentative starting rotation. The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Stanford-UIC game at 3:00 PM on Saturday, while the loser will play the loser of Stanford-UIC at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning.
The third-place team in the Big West Conference can flat out play. While it was fairly predictable that UCR would come to play at Sunken Diamond, they could be a #2 seed at a number of other regionals. Best known for sweeping Cal St. Fullerton three weeks ago, UCR is 19-5 against opponents that Stanford played this year (6-0 vs. USF, 2-0 vs. UCLA, 2-1 vs. Oregon St., 1-0 vs. St. Mary's, 3-0 vs. Sac. St., 1-2 vs. Nevada, 1-2 vs. Cal Poly, 0-1 vs. USC, and 3-0 vs. Cal St. Fullerton). Stanford is 16-7 vs. those clubs this year.
Riverside plays well in all three facets of the game. Their team batting average is .337, ERA is 4.47, and they field at a .973 clip. RF Ryan Harvey will hit second and has 30 multi-hit games this year, as he has been a catalyst at the top of the order. He also has 8 HR. But hitting in front of him is Brian Wahlbrink, who leads off but leads UCR in HR and is hitting at .376. Only one UCR regular is hitting under .300. They put the ball in plate but mostly leave their hitters alone, as they are only 37-76 in stolen base attempts this season.
UCR pitching is also very solid. #1 starter Jaymie Torres is 10-2 and #2 starter A.J. Shappi is 11-2. Those two are by far and away the best pitchers on the staff, as their #3 starter has just 5 wins and no one in their bullpen has an ERA under 4. However, if you don't get to the bullpen, it doesn't matter too much. In addition, UCR doesn't kick the ball around, as they have made just 57 errors in 55 games, and no player has made more than 9 errors.
Riverside is a much better team at home than on the road (27-4 at home, 13-11 on the road). However, they will be a tough test for all three teams in the Stanford Regional.
Probable Starting Lineup:
CF Brian Wahlbrink (.373, 11 HR, 39 RBI)
Wahlbrink will be swinging away (low BB and high K numbers) but when he makes contact, he succeeds. 25 multi-hit games while leading the team in HR. Has started every game at CF and in the leadoff spot. Throws and hits right.
RF Ryan Harvey (.409, 8 HR, 39 RBI)
Harvey leads the team in hitting and has 30 multi-hit games. 92 hits in 55 games. Hits second in the lineup every day. The junior throws and hits right.
3B Tony Festa (.343, 5 HR, 51 RBI)
With hitters who get on base frequently in front of him, Festa drives them in (leads in RBI). On-base percentage of .446 and walks more than he strikes out. Junior hits left and throws right.
1B Kevin Mangels (.319, 10 HR, 49 RBI)
Mangels is second on the team in HR, and has started all but five games. Mangels strikes out about an average amount for a power hitter. Big body: 6'5", 220, R/R.
SS Randy Blood (.376, 5 HR, 50 RBI)
Blood has started every game at SS and every game in the #5 spot in the batting order. He has also made just 9 errors at short and is fielding a very impressive .968. Hits left and throws right.
DH Jason Collette (.290, 4 HR, 26 RBI)
Collette has the lowest average of any starter on the team. The junior can catch as well but has spent most of his time at DH.
LF Matt Cunningham (.353, 5 HR, 41 RBI)
Fifth on the team in batting average. Very rarely walks (only 8 BB in 2003) but can run when he gets on the bases (6 SB).
C Brian Emmons (.319, 7 HR, 36 RBI)
Emmons has caught most games and has thrown out 16 of 39 on the base paths this year.
2B Scott Powls (.341, 1 HR, 14 RBI)
Just six walks in 130 AB this year. Can steal a bit: 6 SB this year.
Probable Starting Rotation:
Game 1 RHP Jaymie Torres (10-2, 3.36 ERA, 15 GS)
#1 starter will likely go against Richmond on Friday afternoon. Doesn't walk many, but has hit a fair amount of batters this season (17 HBP). Gave up just one run in 7.1 last week against UC Irvine. Complete game vs. Fullerton: gave up 14 hits but just 3 runs.
Game 2 RHP A.J. Shappi (11-2, 3.14 ERA, 15 GS)
Leads the club in wins and ERA. The righty threw a complete game against Irvine on Saturday, allowing just five hits. Opponents are hitting just .221 against him.
Game 3 RHP Julio Fernandez (5-3, 4.96 ERA, 18 G, 11 GS)
A high opponents' batting average (.296) and he has hit a lot of batters as well (15). Still a solid number three who gave up just 2 runs to Irvine over 6 innings on Sunday.
Tim Stauffer, Tim Stauffer, Tim Stauffer. Ok, everyone in college baseball knows about Richmond's number one starter. Stauffer is a Golden Spikes Finalist and he and Kyle Sleeth of Wake Forest are the consensus two best pro prospects in college baseball. Stauffer has a 9-4 record, but a 1.87 ERA, and the most impressive numbers: 106 innings with 16 BB and 135 K. Baseball America says that Stauffer is the closest player to the majors. The holder of that title in 2002: Jeremy Guthrie.
So enough about Stauffer. He is really good and will likely go on Friday against UC-Riverside. But Richmond is a good team outside of Stauffer. Their 46-13 record was good enough to win both the regular season and conference tournament title in the Atlantic-10. Last year, they won a Regional and then came within one win of the College World Series. So they are tournament tested. Their numbers are very impressive: a .310 batting average, and a team earned run average of 3.09. The most impressive part of that statistic: Richmond's home ballpark is 380 ft. to center and 355 to the alleys!
1B Jim Fasano leads the Spiders in most offensive categories, as he is hitting .353 (second on team) with 14 HR and 53 RBI. The Spiders have hit an impressive 62 HR this year but its probably safe to say that the park helped a little bit. Richmond was terrific at home this year, as they finished with a 26-3 record at home, with a 14-9 mark on the road. They love to run: the Spiders have stolen a whopping 112 bases this year. One knock on the Spiders: their strength of schedule was 170 this season (Stanford was #3).
Ron Atkins is the Head Coach of the Spiders, and in 19 years, Atkins has taken Richmond to eight tournaments, with the best finish coming in 2002, losing in the Super Regionals. He will attempt to duplicate the feat of 2002 at Sunken Diamond this weekend.
Probable Starting Lineup:
CF Brian Pritz (.324, 5 HR, 29 RBI)
Has started fifty games in CF despite missing some time due to a wrist injury. 21-24 in stolen bases this year. His 21 SBs is only 3rd on the team, amazingly.
SS David Reaver (.324, 1 HR, 29 RBI)
Flies on the basepaths (28 steals) and reaches base often (over .400 OBP) as he walks more than he Ks. 16 errors at SS and is fielding .932.
DH Ben Zeskind (.379, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
DH leads the team in batting average as a freshman. Switch hitter, was All-A-10 second team. Currently riding a seven game hit streak.
1B Jim Fasano (.353, 16 HR, 63 RBI)
Probably the best hitter on the team, Fasano leads in HR and RBI. The Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, the 6'5", 220 Fasano has 20 multi hit games.
RF Vito Chiaravallati (.305, 13 HR, 52 RBI)
Chiaravallati was second on the Spiders in HR and first in letters in the last name. He was named to the A-10 First Team and was the A-10 Conference Tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
LF Michael Galligan (.305, 6 HR, 29 RBI)
Had just 9 AB in 2002 but came through big for the Spiders in 2003, his senior season. 16 multi-hit games.
3B David Thomas (.295, 1 HR, 13 RBI)
Played in 39 games but had just 5 extra base hits.
C Adam Tidball (.269, 8 HR, 38 RBI)
56 starts for Tidball who was named to the original Johnny Bench "To-Watch" list.
2B Bobby LeNoir (.301, 1 HR, 24 RBI)
Average is up about 100 points for LeNoir over his first two seasons with the Spiders as he has started in all but one of Richmond's games.
Probable Starting Rotation:
Game 1 RHP Tim Stauffer (9-4, 1.87 ERA, 14 G)
The Golden Spikes Finalist has only allowed 3 HR at a park that is .380 to CF! Clearly one of the most dominant pitchers in the country with a 135 K in only 106 innings and just 16 BB. Three of his losses have been by one run. Will be a Top-10 pick in next week's draft.
Game 2 RHP Mike McGirr (9-1, 2.48 ERA, 14 GS)
Not bad when your number two starter has an ERA under 2.5. An All-A-10 first team selection.
Game 3 RHP Jason Bolinski (9-1, 2.53 ERA, 14 GS)
Again, not bad when your number three starter has an ERA just over 2.5. Like McGirr and Stauffer, doesn't walk many and has high K numbers.