College Baseball Roundup

The #1 ranked Cardinal maintained their winning ways last weekend with a series victory at USC. Stanford now takes a 15-3 overall record into the finals break. In this week's Roundup, we take an in-depth look into that series plus have all the latest from around the Pac-10. In addition, check out an updated "Super Sixteen."

Pac-10 Standings (overall records through games of Sun. Mar. 7)

Arizona State        15-2
Stanford             15-3
Washington State     11-3
Oregon State         10-4
UCLA                 11-5
Washington            7-4-1
Arizona               9-6-1
California           10-11
USC                   5-9

Last weekend in the Pac-10 saw Stanford take 2-of-3 on the road at USC to remain #1 in the country.  Arizona State notched a big series sweep over #23 East Carolina at home.  The Sun Devils and the Cardinal continue to look like the early contenders for the conference championship this season.  In other action, UCLA had their biggest series to date, but dropped 2-of-3 at home to #12 Texas A&M.  Arizona won 2-of-3 in Tucson over Sacramento State to remain in the top 20.  California rebounded from being swept by Stanford to take 2-of-3 in a home-and-home series against Saint Mary's.  Washington split a three-game set in Seattle with Missouri (1-1-1).  Oregon State was brought back down to earth with a 2-3 effort at a round-robin tournament in Hawaii.  Finally, the Washington State Cougars continue to win.  They recorded a 4-0 record at the Banana Belt Tournament in Lewiston, Idaho with wins over the likes of Utah Valley State, Gonzaga, and Lewis & Clark State.  The Cougars have yet to play anyone this year, but at least they're winning to not damage the Pac-10 RPI too much.

This weekend, ASU has another big home series when they entertain #11 Tulane for three games.  The Sun Devils are in the midst of their 24-game homestand.  California badly needs a series win over a quality opponent before Pac-10 play starts.  They'll have a chance to get that when they travel to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina for three games.  The Tar Heels were ranked in the preseason polls.  Likewise, USC is in dire need of a big series win before the conference season.  The Trojans continue their brutal non-conference schedule with three contests at #22 Mississippi State this weekend (followed by two midweek games at #11 Tulane next week).

UCLA really could have used that series win over Texas A&M last weekend as they look to have a team this year that could make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid.  They'll get a chance to redeem themselves this weekend at a round-robin tournament in San Diego.  The Bruins will play three games total, two of which will be against #9 Long Beach State (with Jered Weaver likely to pitch) and Nebraska. 

Stanford-USC Series Notes

The Cardinal won their sixth straight series to open the year last weekend when they took 2-of-3 at USC.  Heading into the finals break, Stanford posted an excellent 5-1 record at Cal and at USC.  The Cardinal did lose the final game of the SC series, but still post an impressive 15-3 overall record while they continue to hold onto the #1 national ranking.

I'll start with the bad news from last weekend.  The Cardinal really didn't get good performances from Saturday starter Jeff Gilmore and Sunday starter Blake Holler last weekend.  Obviously every pitcher gets roughed up from time-to-time, so no need to panic or anything.  And it's important to remember that Stanford's starting rotation this year is incredibly young, especially for a club with national title aspirations.  Bumps in the road can be expected this season, you just hope that everything is squared away when the games really start to count.  In the meantime, Stanford's offense will usually be able to pick up the slack.

Speaking of that offense, Stanford really got a complete performance up-and-down the lineup the entire weekend.  The Cardinal scored 26 runs for the weekend (continue to average 8.3 per game for the season) while they hit a whopping .341.  Jed Lowrie continues to lead the way.  The sophomore middle infielder blasted his fourth home run of the season on Sunday (tied with Mayberry, Jr. for the team lead) and is now hitting .446 for the year.  In fact, his team-leading 26 RBI is just two short of what he had all of last season.

Brian Hall also had a really nice series going 6-for-14 (with a home run on Friday) to raise his season average up to .254.  You knew Hall was poised to breakout at any moment and it appears he has.  Hall should be a dangerous hitter in the #7 or #8 spot in the order the rest of the season.  All in all, contributions were felt all throughout the lineup last weekend.  There aren't going to be many pitching staffs around the country this year that will be able to hold these guys down for an entire weekend.  They are an extremely confident bunch that never feels like they're out of games and has the ability to breakthrough with a big inning at any time.  As the weather warms and the pitchers start to log more innings, watch out, this offense could be put up some scary numbers by the end of the year.

"Super Sixteen"

                          Record  Pvs.
1. Stanford                15-3    1
* Cardinal remain in the top spot after taking 2-of-3 at USC.

2. LSU                     12-2    3
* A nice 3-1 week for the Tigers as they post a midweek win over Tulane and then take 2-of-3 over Houston.

3. Texas                   19-2    4
* Longhorns with an excellent 4-0 week that included a victory over Rice and two wins over Fullerton.

4. Rice                    11-3    2
* Owls fall down a couple of spots after losing second game of the year to Texas .... they did rebound to sweep Texas State over the weekend.

5. Miami                   11-3    5
* Hurricanes swept Elon to remain in the #5 position.

6. Auburn                  13-1    7
* Tigers move up after impressive three-game home sweep of VCU.

7. Long Beach State        11-4    6
* 49ers go 2-1 last week with wins over Pepperdine and BYU and a loss to CS Northridge.

8. Arizona State           15-2   10
* Sun Devils continue to move up after sweep of East Carolina.

9. Mississippi             11-0    9
* Would like to reward the Rebels for their perfect start, but they've played no one ... swept visiting Eastern Illinois last weekend.

10. South Carolina         12-0   11
* Gamecocks with a little tougher schedule aided by their two-game sweep of Clemson over the weekend.

11. Arizona                 9-6-1 12
* Wildcats won 2-of-3 over Sacramento State.

12. Texas A&M              14-2   NR
* Aggies vault into "Super Sixteen" after winning series at UCLA over the weekend.

13. Nebraska                6-3    8
* Huskers fall back after 1-2 showing at a tournament in Minnesota (losses to Florida State and Minnesota).

14. UC Irvine              12-3-1 NR
* Anteaters with their first ever appearance in the "Super Sixteen" ... swept Baylor on the road last weekend.

15. Mississippi State       7-0   NR
* Bulldogs are the fifth SEC team in the top 16 ... 4-0 last week capped by two-game sweep of Tennessee Tech.

16. Tulane                 10-3   14
* Green Wave dropped midweek game to LSU then came back to take 2-of-3 over visiting Pepperdine.

Dropped Out: Cal State Fullerton (9-10, 1-2 last week), N.C. State (10-2, 3-2 last week), Notre Dame (7-1, 1-1 last week).

Rankings Update

Stanford is #1 for the third consecutive week in Baseball America's Top 25 poll.  Arizona State has moved up to #8 while Arizona currently sits at #19.  Texas, who is off to an amazing 19-2 start (both losses to Stanford), has vaulted up to the #2 spot in the poll.   There are no ACC teams in the top 16 compared to five SEC schools.

Opponents Update

A quick look at some of Stanford's non-conference opponents this year and how they're doing up to this point in the season:
* Cal Poly - The Mustangs are off to an impressive 17-7-1 start and are coming off a three-game sweep of Nevada last weekend.  Traditionally, this has been a fairly easy three-game series for Stanford, but that doesn't look to be the case this season.  Cal Poly visits Sunken Diamond for three games on March 26-28.
* Santa Clara - The Broncos, who Stanford will play four times this season, are off to an impressive 11-7 start this year.  They won 2-of-3 versus San Jose State last weekend including a 17-6 rout in the series finale.
* Saint Mary's - Stanford's first opponent after the break, the Gaels are struggling mightily this year at 4-15.  They lost 2-of-3 to Cal last weekend.

On Deck

Saint Mary's, Santa Clara, and Cal Poly are up next for Stanford Cardinal, however, they won't play those schools until after the finals break.  The Cardinal travel to Moraga for a single game with Saint Mary's on Tuesday afternoon the 23rd.  Then it's a single contest with Santa Clara down south on Wednesday the 24th followed by a three-game home series with Cal Poly starting on Friday the 26th.

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