College Baseball Roundup

After nearly 2 1/2 weeks off, Stanford will finally return to the field on Tuesday to battle Saint Mary's in a non-conference game. This week's Roundup gets you up-to-date on the Cardinal's next two opponents - the Gaels and the Santa Clara Broncos. Also, check out all the latest from around the Pac-10 Conference plus an updated "Super Sixteen."

Pac-10 Standings (records through games of Sun. March 21st)

                   
Conf.  GB   Overall
California           2-1    -    14-15
Stanford             0-0   0.5   15-3
Oregon State         0-0   0.5   14-6
Washington State     0-0   0.5   14-6
Washington           0-0   0.5   11-6-1
UCLA                 0-0   0.5   13-8
Arizona              0-0   0.5   11-10-1
USC                  0-0   0.5    9-13
Arizona State        1-2   1.0   20-5

The Pac-10 season started with a bang this past weekend when the struggling California Golden Bears went into Tempe and promptly took 2-of-3 from the 8th ranked ASU Sun Devils.  Included in the series victory was a 20-8 rout on Saturday.  I wrote in last week's Roundup that Cal was the major disappointment of the non-conference season in the Pac-10 this year.  Their big weekend down in the desert though could be a turning point as they try to climb back into the NCAA Tournament picture.

That series at Arizona State certainly has an effect on the Stanford Cardinal.  First, ASU and Stanford were certainly the two favorites in this conference.  This is still true, but dropping a series at home to a sub .500 team does not bode well for the Sun Devils.  They had a chance to really make a statement and put some distance between them and the Cardinal before Stanford ever took the field for their first Pac-10 contest.  Now, even if the ASU sweeps their series this upcoming weekend, the advantage the Sun Devils will enjoy will be minimal (if you can even call it an advantage).  Finally, Stanford swept Cal in a non-conference series last month, so to have the Bears take a series from a top-10 team on their home field is huge for the Cardinal's RPI (ASU had the #1 RPI in the country prior to this weekend).

In other action last weekend, Washington State surprised Washington by taking 2-of-3 games in a non-conference series.  All games were played in Pullman with the Cougars taking the rubber game on Sunday with a walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.  WSU is probably one of (if not the) worst team in the conference, so this just goes to show that the Pac-10 is very strong top-to-bottom this season.

#17 Arizona started very strong this season and cracked the top 15 in the polls, but the Wildcats have now hit a wall.   They were swept by 10th ranked Long Beach State last weekend in Long Beach to fall to 11-10-1 on the year.  Arizona most certainly had thoughts of hosting a regional this season before the year started, however, barring a top 2 finish in the Pac-10, that will not happen.

Oregon State took 2-of-3 at home over Utah Valley State last weekend.  USC concluded their eight-game southern road trip by dropping 2-of-3 at South Alabama.  The Trojans finished the very difficult trip with a respectable 4-4 record.  They picked up a series win two weekends ago over ranked Mississippi State and then spilt a pair of midweek games with #14 Tulane.  The 9-13 overall record may not look good, but with their brutal non-conference schedule, just finishing above .500 should get the Trojans into the NCAA's. 

Stanford and UCLA had the weekend off for final exams.

This weekend, there will be three Pac-10 series'.  The big one is in Tempe where the #8 Sun Devils look to rebound as they take on the Washington Huskies.  California tries to stay on the winning track with a three-game set versus the Oregon State Beavers in Berkeley.  The Beavers have surprised many with their 14-6 non-conference record thus far.  Finally, Washington State travels to Tucson to battle the Arizona Wildcats for three games.

In non-conference action, UCLA will play a three-game series at USC while Stanford hosts Cal Poly for three games.


Saint Mary's Notes

Stanford returns to the field for the first time in 16 days on Tuesday with a single non-conference game at Saint Mary's.  Quite frankly, the Gaels are not a very good team.  They bring a 6-17 overall record into this game with an RPI rating in the low 200's. 

Not much has gone right for the Gaels this year.  They average just over four runs per game while hitting a paltry .246 as a team.  Their pitching is slightly better, but not by much (5.98 team ERA).  They have a pair of quality weekend starters, but Stanford won't see either of them on Tuesday, so it's hard to see this club holding down the Cardinal's potent offense for nine innings.

Saint Mary's started WCC play this past weekend and dropped 2-of-3 at home to lowly Gonzaga.  In terms of common opponents with Stanford, the Gaels lost 2-of-3 in a home-and-home series with Cal a few weeks ago.  Stanford won't play Cal Poly until this weekend, but the Gaels were easily swept by the Mustangs the first week of the season.

Perhaps the only thing that could hold Stanford back is the fact that they haven't played a real game in 16 days.  That may be a bit of a reach though since the Cardinal did play a handful of intrasquad games over the finals break.  None of the current Cardinal players have ever played in Moraga either, so the surroundings will not be familiar (Stanford last played at Saint Mary's in 2000).


Santa Clara Notes

After their game with the Gaels, the Cardinal head down the 101 to take on the Santa Clara Broncos on Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.  The Broncos figure to be a much tougher test for the Cardinal.  Santa Clara is currently 12-12 on the year (they wrap up a series with Pepperdine on Monday before playing Stanford).  The Broncos have played a difficult non-conference schedule this season, so don't be fooled by their mediocre 12-12 record.  Two weekends ago, they traveled to College Station to play 9th ranked Texas A&M.  Santa Clara was swept, but they lost the last two games by one run apiece.

That's the only series loss for the Broncos this year as they've posted series wins over the likes of Cal Poly (20-9-1 record), UC Riverside (an NCAA Tournament team last year), San Jose State, and San Diego State.  Along with Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara is considered one of the favorites to take home the WCC title this season.

Santa Clara has split the first two games of their series with Pepperdine thus far this weekend (games played down in Malibu).  The rubber game is Monday afternoon.

As a team, the Broncos are hitting a respectable .294 and averaging nearly six runs per contest.  They're led by a pair of big-time transfers at the plate.  Texas transfer Nic Crosta is hitting .382 with three homers and 19 RBI while Arizona transfer Will Thompson is hitting at a .333 clip with four homers and 18 RBI.  Third-year head coach Mark O'Brien is doing an excellent job recruiting quality talent along with garnering a few important transfer players as this program is most certainly on the rise.

In terms of pitching, Santa Clara has sometimes struggled in this department.  The Broncos have a 5.82 ERA and their top starters will not throw in this game.  Stanford should have the edge in this contest with their offense going up against SCU's weekday starter/middle relievers. 


"Super Sixteen"

                      Record  Pvs.
1. Stanford            15-3    1

2. LSU                 18-3    2
   
* Tigers notch huge series win as they take 2-of-3 at previously unbeaten South Carolina.

3. Texas               26-3    3
   
* Longhorns see their long winning streak snapped, but still win 2-of-3 at Oklahoma.

4. Mississippi         18-1   10
   
* Rebels make big jump after 4-0 week which includes series sweep of a talented Vanderbilt team.

5. Long Beach State    16-5    9
   
* 49ers also make a jump after impressive series sweep of visiting Arizona.

6. Miami               19-4    6
   
* Hurricanes split a pair of midweek games with South Florida then sweep Illinois-Chicago over the weekend.

7. South Carolina      19-2    8
   
* Gamecocks break even last week at 2-2 ... dropped series at home to LSU.

8. Arizona State       20-5    7
   
* Sun Devils finish 3-2 last week, but lose series at home to California.

9. Rice                16-6    5
   
* Owls take a tumble after 2-2 week with losses to Houston and Hawaii.

10. Nebraska           13-4   14
   
* Huskers with a perfect 5-0 week including series sweep at home of Boston College.

11. Florida State      20-5   16
   
* Seminoles continue to climb after 4-0 week including weekend sweep of Maryland (scored 58 runs in their four games this week).

12. Tennessee          19-3   NR
   
* Vols in the "Super 16" for the first time ... won 2-of-3 at Mississippi State last weekend.

13. Texas A&M          21-4   11
   
* Aggies fall back after 3-2 week including a series loss to Baylor.

14. Notre Dame         13-2   12
   
* Irish split two games with Southern Illinois over the weekend.

15. Tulane             15-7   15
   
* Green Wave split a pair of midweek games with USC then recorded big series win at East Carolina.

16. Auburn             17-5    4
   
* Tigers fall way back after dropping midweek game to Troy State and then losing 2-of-3 at home to Kentucky.

Dropped Out : Arizona (11-10-1, 0-3 last week)


On Deck

Stanford returns from their 15-day break with five games this week.  The Cardinal travel to Moraga on Tuesday to take on the Saint Mary's Gaels.  First pitch is scheduled for 2:00pm.  On Wednesday, Stanford heads south to battle the Santa Clara Broncos.  That contest will get underway at 6:00pm.  Then the Cal Poly Mustangs come to town for a three-game series over the weekend.  First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:00pm while Saturday's and Sunday's games will get started at 1:00pm.  Cal Poly has been playing very well this season as they currently sport a 20-9-1 overall record and are ranked just outside the top 25.


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