College Baseball Roundup

The Stanford Cardinal started their season with a bang last weekend by sweeping the visiting Cal State Fullerton Titans. In this week's Roundup, we take an in-depth look at that series along with all the latest from around the Pac-10. In addition, check out the latest "Super Sixteen" national ranking.

Pac-10 Standings (Overall records through games of February 1st):

Stanford          3-0

California        3-0
Arizona           0-0
Arizona State     0-0
Oregon State      0-0
UCLA              0-0
USC               0-0
Washington        0-0
Washington State  0-0     

Just two Pac-10 teams have started their season's.  Stanford, of course, opened with a three-game home sweep of the 4th ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans.  Meanwhile, the Cal Bears swept the visiting BYU Cougars over in Berkeley.  The Bears were expected to make the NCAA Tournament last year, but struggled to a 7th place Pac-10 finish.  As a result, a lot of their key juniors from a year ago that could have been high draft picks are back for their senior campaign and another try at qualifying for the postseason.  A great start for the Bears (ranked #26 in Baseball America's Preseason Top 50) as they win all three games by the scores of 11-1, 13-3, and 7-4.

This weekend, the two big series' involving Pac-10 teams are in Berkeley and Tempe.  The Bears host 9th ranked Long Beach State while 18th ranked ASU takes on #22 Florida State.  I would argue that Stanford wouldn't mind seeing Cal have a fairly successful non-conference season.  Nothing too spectacular, but remember that Stanford plays Cal in a three-game non-conference series in late February, so it would be beneficial in terms of Stanford's RPI for the Bears to rack up a few wins.  Cal certainly gets a big test this weekend in facing Jered Weaver and the Dirtbags.

Stanford-Fullerton Series:
The Stanford Cardinal opened their season with a bang last weekend in sweeping the preseason 4th ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans, 16-3, 8-7, and 4-1.  Perhaps the most encouraging sign of the weekend was the improved pitching depth that was evident in preseason practices.  I felt confident from watching practices that the pitching depth would be better this season, but success in practice doesn't always mean success in games.  Well, you have to be excited about the performances put forth by the likes of Mark Jecmen, Drew Ehrlich, Jeff Gilmore, and Blake Holler.

Jecmen threw just 8 2/3 innings all of last year, but started to show signs that he was turning the corner in January intrasquad games.  When his control is in check, like it was on Sunday, he can be dominant.  Holding a team like Cal State Fullerton to one run on three hits in five innings is very impressive and should definitely earn Jecmen at least one more start.

Gilmore dazzled during fall and preseason practice, so it was good to see him carry it over to the games the count.  Spanning two relief appearances, Gilmore tossed five shutout innings with only two hits allowed.  And again, this was facing a top 5 team.  Look for Gilmore to see plenty of action this year. 

Ehrlich had the lowest ERA among all Stanford pitchers in preseason practice, so like Jecmen, he was showing signs of turning it around.  Ehrlich did a nice job in his three innings of long relief on Saturday and gives this team someone that is capable of going four or five innings in long relief on any given weekend. 

Finally, freshmen Blake Holler and Matt Leva both got their feet wet this past weekend.  Holler was allowed to come on in a non-pressure situation on Friday night with Stanford up 13-2 and he pitched very well with three solid innings of work.  The southpaw from Indiana struck out four.  Meanwhile, Leva did a nice job of throwing strikes in his brief outing on Saturday.  He was brought into the game in a pressure situation with guys on base and although he gave up a pair of singles, they were just groundballs that found holes.  Look for Leva to see plenty of middle relief action this year.

The next two weekends see Stanford play a pair of unranked opponents in Fresno State and Kansas, so lets hope these pitchers can keep it up.  These non-conference games are so big for pitchers that have yet to really prove themselves in big spots as it takes a lot to impress Coach Marquess and earn appearances in big Pac-10 games and the postseason.  I'd again expect a bunch of different arms to throw these next two weeks as Coach Marquess tries to find the right pieces to the puzzle.  The next marquee series is in three weeks when the 8th ranked Texas Longhorns visit Sunken Diamond for three games.

The hitting was good this weekend, but it will be even better later on.  Stanford did score 28 runs in the three games, so that's an excellent runs per game number (9.3).  The team hit .309 over the weekend led by sophomore shortstop/second baseman Jed Lowrie.  Lowrie has been red-hot since fall practice started in October.  Hot enough that Coach Marquess put him in the cleanup spot in the batting order on Sunday.  For the weekend, Lowrie hit .545 (6-for-11) with a double, home run, and four RBI.  Other top performers last weekend included Sam Fuld who finished 5-for-12 with a .533 on-base percentage.  Danny Putnam went 4-for-10 with five runs scored.  Finally, frosh Adam Sorgi picked up two huge hits in five at-bats this past weekend.  He came into the game halfway through on Saturday and then started against the right handed pitcher on Sunday.  Look for Sorgi to continue to see a lot of playing time.

This offense could be special when it's all said and done.  28 runs in three games against this Fullerton pitching staff is an awfully impressive start.

"Super Sixteen"

1. Rice                 0-0    1

2. LSU                  0-0    2

3. Stanford             3-0    3
* Swept Fullerton at home to open season.

4. Miami                0-0    5

5. Georgia Tech         0-0    6

6. Cal State Fullerton  0-3    4
* Drops a couple of spots after losing three in a row up at Stanford.

7. Long Beach State     0-0    7

8. Auburn               0-0    8

9. Texas                3-0    9
* Longhorns open season with three-game sweep at Hawaii.

10. Nebraska            0-0   10

11. Mississippi         0-0   11

12. Clemson             0-0   12

13. Baylor              0-0   13

14. Arizona             0-0   14

15. Florida State       1-0   15
* Seminoles knocked off VMI on Saturday with final game of two-game series today.

16. Arizona State       0-0   16

Dropped Out : none

Opponents Update:
It was good weekend for future Cardinal opponents.  As mentioned above, Texas (Feb. 20-22) swept Hawaii to open their season.  Kansas (Feb. 13-15) got a combined no-hitter in their win over Texas Southern yesterday.  The Jayhawks have only played Hawaii-Hilo and Texas Southern thus far, but they're off to a 7-2 start.  Cal Poly (Mar. 26-28) swept Saint Mary's to move to 4-2 on the young season.  Finally, Bay Area rival Santa Clara notched an impressive 2-of-3 series win at UC Riverside.

On Deck:
Stanford will take on the Fresno State Bulldogs this weekend in their first road games of the season.  The Cardinal went the entire season half of last season without losing a road game in compiling a 14 game winning streak.  Fresno State will be playing their first games of the season against Stanford.  Last year, the Bulldogs finished with a 30-29 overall record and a 14-16 conference mark in the WAC (good for third place).  I'll have a full series preview in a few days.

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