College Baseball Roundup

The top ranked Stanford baseball team is rolling along after their three-game sweep of the Cal Bears last weekend in Berkeley. The Cardinal have now taken 13 straight over their Bay Area rival and will now head south to take on their L.A. rival, the USC Trojans. This week's Roundup has an in-depth look at the Cal Series along with all the latest from around the Pac-10. In addition, check out the latest "Super Sixteen" national rankings.

Pac-10 Standings (overall records through games of Sun. Feb. 29)

Oregon State        8-1
Stanford           13-2
Arizona State      12-2
UCLA                8-3
Washington State    7-3
Washington          6-3
Arizona             7-5-1
California          7-9
USC                 3-7

Another solid weekend for the Pac-10 conference highlighted by Arizona going on the road and taking 2-of-3 from #15 Baylor.  The Wildcats now have series wins over the Bears and Cal State Fullerton this non-conference season.  Arizona State opened their 24-game homestand by going 4-0 last week.  They took a single non-conference game from Arizona before sweeping lowly UConn.  I'd probably put ASU ahead of Arizona right now (and the rankings reflect this), but these two squads both figure to challenge Stanford for the Pac-10 title.

Elsewhere, Stanford played like the #1 team in the country as they swept Cal in a three-game non-conference series.  The Bears have fallen below .500.  The only other Pac-10 team with a losing record is the USC Trojans.  The young Trojans are having a difficult time with their brutal non-conference schedule.  They did knock off #5 Georgia Tech last Friday night before falling to Oklahoma and Cal State Fullerton in Fullerton's round-robin tournament.  And it doesn't get any easier with Stanford coming to town for three games this weekend.

Oregon State continued their surprising strong start with a 2-1 record at a tournament in Riverside.  One of those wins was a victory over conference rival Washington (the Huskies went 1-2 at the same tourney).  The Beavers though did get smoked by Sacramento State in their lone loss, so lets hold off calling them a top 25 team for now.

In other action, UCLA swept Hawaii-Hilo while Washington State took 2-of-3 at Texas-Pan American.

This weekend, the big series is in Tempe when the #10 Sun Devils host #21 East Carolina (12-0 record) in a three-game set.  After this weekend, ASU will host #8 Tulane for three games, so we should get a sense of whether or not ASU is a legit top ten team after these six contests.  Stanford and USC get together for three games in Los Angeles.  The Trojans are in dire need of some victories.  UCLA has a tough test this weekend when #14 Texas A&M (12-1) comes to town for three games.  The Bruins are off to an 8-3 start, but this is their first real weekend test of the season.  Washington also takes on a Big 12 team this weekend when the Missouri Tigers invade Seattle for a three-game set. 

Stanford-Cal Series Notes

Outside of Cal's big five-run fifth inning on Friday, Stanford thoroughly dominated the Bears this weekend in their home ballpark.  Stanford weathered the storm on Friday and relied on their offense and strong late inning pitching from Jonny Dyer and David O'Hagan to post a 12-9 victory.  Saturday was a walk in the park as Stanford cruised to a 10-3 win while Blake Holler had an excellent start on Sunday to lead the Cardinal to a 6-2 victory.

The Cardinal offense had a very good weekend as they scored 28 runs and hit .318 as a team in the three games.  Jed Lowrie continues to amaze as he went 7-for-10 with seven RBI.  That included a three triple performance in Friday's game.  Lowrie is leading the team in batting average (.472), runs (22), hits (25), doubles (4), triples (3), RBI (22), slugging percentage (.830), and on-base percentage (.543).  And to top if off, he's committed just one error through the first 15 games.  The overall improvement in his game is absolutely staggering.

Another player who's shown remarkable improvement since last year is sophomore pitcher Jeff Gilmore.  Gilmore threw all of 2 1/3 innings last year, but he's solidified himself as the #2 starter on this team.  After a tough outing against Texas, Gilmore bounced back nicely against Cal with seven quality innings (6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 SO).  For the year, Gilmore is 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA.

Blake Holler made another great impression on Sunday.  The freshman lefty sure isn't pitching like a freshman right now.  In his two starts versus Texas and Cal, Holler has thrown 13 innings while allowing just two runs and eight hits.  His emergence as Stanford's #3 starter after a couple of strong appearances out of the bullpen is remarkably similar to that of a freshman left hander who was on the team last year.

Donny Lucy is making the most of playing everyday.  He blasted two home runs against the Bears to give him three on the year.  He's hitting .293 with 11 RBI as well.  Jonny Ash has become an excellent #2 hitter (and this goes back to last year's CWS) as the senior third baseman has a 10-game hitting streak and a .375 average.  Danny Putnam blasted a home run on Saturday and has his average up to .365.  Meanwhile, John Mayberry, Jr. came through with three big hits and three RBI on Sunday and still paces the club with four home runs.

One cause for concern right now has to be Chris Carter.  The slugging DH is batting just .138 (4-for-29) this year and didn't start in any of the three games this weekend.  And when he got a chance to play (coming off the bench), he went 0-for-4 with three K's.  Now, Carter is traditionally a slow starter (he did start 2-for-22 last year before stepping up big-time in May and June), but the junior from Concord did not hit for a high average in either fall ball or preseason practices.  He needs to get going pretty soon or else his playing time could continue to get cut.

Finally, a very nice weekend from junior reliever Jonny Dyer.  In fact, Dyer has pitched well all season for Stanford.  He notched the victory in relief on Friday with 2 1/3 quality innings while he came on in a tough spot on Sunday to nail down the save - the first of his career.  Dyer was nothing more than a middle reliever his first two seasons who wasn't really counted on in big spots, but that looks to be changing.  In four relief appearances this year, Dyer has allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings with no walks and six K's.  Look for Dyer to continue to see action in big moments in games if he keeps this up.

"Super Sixteen"

                        Record  Pvs.
1. Stanford              13-2    1
* Cardinal remain in top spot after sweeping Cal on the road.

2. Rice                   7-2    2
* Owls post a 2-0 record at their own tournament with wins coming over UNC and Nebraska (both ranked teams).

3. LSU                    9-1    3
* Tigers continue to roll with a three-game sweep of visiting Texas State.

4. Texas                 15-2    5
* Longhorns move up a spot after sweeping San Diego State and only allowing two runs in the process.

5. Miami                  7-3    4
* Hurricanes go 3-1 last week (1-1 vs. Florida International, 1-0 vs. La Salle, 1-0 vs. Minnesota).

6. Long Beach State       9-3    7
* 49ers continue to inch up after taking 2-of-3 at Houston ... LBSU's team ERA is below 2.

7. Auburn                 9-1    8
* Tigers go 4-0 last week capped off by sweep of Hofstra.

8. Nebraska               5-1    9
* Huskers went 2-1 at Rice's tournament losing to the Owls, but defeating UNC and Northwestern State.

9. Mississippi            6-0   11
* Rebels with an impressive three-game sweep at South Alabama to remain unbeaten.

10. Arizona State        12-2   12
* Sun Devils beat up on UConn for three straight wins ... also knocked off Arizona in a midweek game.

11. South Carolina        9-0   14
* Gamecocks swept through Duquesne, Radford, and George Mason over the weekend.

12. Arizona               7-5-1 15
* Wildcats go on the road and take 2-of-3 from Baylor.

13. Cal State Fullerton   8-8   10
* Titans start week by losing a pair to Loyola Marymount and Oklahoma, but bounce back to defeat Georgia Tech and USC.

14. Tulane                8-1   NR
* Green Wave make first appearance in rankings after sweeping Utah (zero runs allowed in all three games).

15. N.C. State            7-0   NR
* Wolf Pack the lone ACC team in the "Super Sixteen" ... 3-0 at tourney in Charleston last weekend.

16. Notre Dame            5-0   NR
* Irish in the top 16 after 3-0 showing at tourney at Florida Atlantic.

Dropped Out : Georgia Tech (6-3, 0-3 last week), Clemson (2-3, 2-3 last week), Baylor (4-6, 1-2 last week).

Rankings Update

Stanford remained at #1 in this week's Baseball America poll after their sweep at Cal last weekend.  Arizona State and Arizona continue to be the only other Pac-10 teams in the top 25.  The Sun Devils check in at #10, the Wildcats at #16.  Non-conference opponents ranked include #4 Texas and #17 Cal State Fullerton.  Interestingly, the top six teams all played in last year's College World Series (#1 Stanford, #2 Rice, #3 LSU, #4 Texas, #5 South Carolina, #6 Miami).

On Deck

The Cardinal head back out on the road this weekend as they travel down to Los Angeles to take on the struggling USC Trojans in a three-game, non-conference series.  First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:00pm while Saturday's and Sunday's contests will both get underway at 1:00pm.  USC did not qualify for the postseason last year after a 28-28 season and have their work cut out for them already in 2004.  They're 3-7 right now with a game against a solid UC Irvine team on Tuesday.  A full series preview is coming in a few days.

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