College Baseball Roundup

Stanford suffered their first series loss of the season last weekend when they dropped 2-of-3 games up in Seattle versus the Washington Huskies. That tightens up the Pac-10 race as the Cardinal now find themselves just 1/2 game (two in the loss column) ahead of the Huskies for first place. In this week's Roundup, we take a close look at the UW series plus get you caught up on all the latest from around the Pac-10. In addition, check out an updated "Super Sixteen."

Pac-10 Standings (records through games of Sun. May 9)

                   Conf.   GB    Overall
Stanford           11-4     -     37-8
Washington         12-6    0.5    28-15-1
UCLA                8-7    3.0    26-23
Arizona State       7-8    4.0    32-13
Oregon State        7-8    4.0    27-15
Arizona             7-8    4.0    25-20-1
USC                 7-8    4.0    21-25
California          8-13   6.0    24-27
Washington State    5-10   6.0    24-20

Only one Pac-10 series last weekend and it saw Washington take 2-of-3 from the first-place Stanford Cardinal up in Seattle.  The series win moves the Huskies to within just 1/2 game of the Cardinal, however they are still two back in the loss column.  Meanwhile, in non-conference action, the Arizona Wildcats notched a big series win when they took 2-of-3 in Los Angeles against UCLA.  Those two teams are right on the bubble, so every win this time of year is precious.  Finally, Washington State has split the first two games of their three-game series with Sacramento State up in Pullman (third game is today).

It's a full weekend of Pac-10 games upcoming as the conference race starts to heat up.  Stanford looks to rebound when they head south to Tucson for a series with the Wildcats.  Arizona is in a pretty good position to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but a series win over the Cardinal would be huge for their postseason chances.  The Wildcats just need to make sure they don't get swept.

Washington tries to keep their momentum going when they take on the USC Trojans down in Los Angeles.  The Trojans badly need a series win to stay in NCAA contention.  Arizona State hosts Oregon State in a key series.  The Sun Devils, with their top 10 RPI, aren't in any danger of missing the tournament, but a top three finish in the conference could result in a #1 seed come postseason time.  The Beavers are squarely "on the bubble" right now and could really use a series win in Tempe to bolster their chances.

Finally, UCLA hosts Washington State in a three-game set at Jackie Robinson Stadium.  The Bruins are also very much "on the bubble" and need to win a series over the struggling Cougars. 

This really could be separation week in the Pac-10.  Stanford and Washington are clearly the top two teams in the Pac-10 and can further separate themselves with road series wins.  Both Stanford (6 games) and UW (3 games) will only play home games after this weekend.  Arizona State also has a chance to move up as they finally return home for a conference series.  Meanwhile, Oregon State, USC, and Arizona need to rise to the occasion or else their tournament hopes are very much in jeopardy.

Remaining Schedules
Stanford-
May 15-17: at Arizona (7-8)
May 21-23: vs. USC (7-8)
May 28-30: vs. Arizona State (7-8)

Washington-
May 14-16: at USC (7-8)
May 21-23: vs. UCLA (8-7)


Washington Series Notes

The Cardinal suffered their first series loss of the season last weekend when they dropped 2-of-3 to the Huskies up in Seattle.  The series was really lost on Friday night when Washington took a 3-2, ten inning win over Stanford.  Mark Romanczuk threw a dandy of a game (9 IP, 2 ER, 8 SO), but received very little offensive support.  And the tenth inning was particularly painful with two hit batters and an error leading to the winning run scoring.  Stanford was never in Sunday's game, but the deck was stacked against the Cardinal in that one with UW ace Tim Lincecum going against the very inexperienced Greg Reynolds.  Stanford really needed to win the first two games last weekend and unfortunately couldn't come through.

The glaring weakness for this team right now is their lack of a consistent third starter.  Reynolds (2 1/3 IP, 4 ER) was roughed up considerably on Sunday while Blake Holler and Mark Jecmen have already been tried in the Sunday spot only to lose their job eventually.  You can't win a national championship without three consistent starters, so this is certainly a concern.  However, the postseason still doesn't start for another 3 1/2 weeks, so there's still time for someone to step up.  Will it be Reynolds?  Matt Manship?  Blake Holler?  Matt Leva?  The Cardinal have quality arms it's just a matter of who is going to rise to the occasion.  And remember that last year's team had a rotating third starter all the way up until the NCAA Tournament which is when Ryan McCally stepped up in a big way.

There was certainly one very big positive from last weekend's game and that was the pitching performances from Romanczuk and Jeff Gilmore on Friday and Saturday respectively.  They may not be Young-Wayne, but these two have clearly established themselves as the top two starters on this year's team.  They faced a ranked opponent on the road this weekend and both stepped up and gave their team a chance to win.  With Stanford's potent offense, you have to like the Cardinal's chances next month in the NCAA Tournament if these two continue to pitch this well.

I think losing a series can be a good thing for this team.  They've basically been on cruise control all season, but a bump in the road can certainly help in the long run.  Granted, the Cardinal were shorthanded last weekend with injuries to Jonny Ash and John Mayberry, Jr., but this series loss gives the players a chance to work through some adversity and refocus themselves for the stretch run.  It doesn't get much easier with a tough series at Arizona this weekend, but you want the games to be tough at this point in the season to better prepare the club for the NCAA Tournament.

It was reported this weekend that Mayberry reinjured his shoulder on a swing during Friday's game (Mayberry removed himself from the game on Friday and did not play the rest of the weekend).  He was seen throwing lightly on Saturday, so this is likely just a day-to-day thing that Junior doesn't want to try to play through and hurt himself even more with more important games on the horizon next month.  Mayberry clearly hurt his shoulder on an awkward swing-and-a-miss during the Santa Clara game on April 27th.  He remained in that contest, but did not start the first two games of the WSU series the following the weekend.  Meanwhile, Coach Marquess expressed before the series started that he hoped injured third baseman Jonny Ash (broken finger) would be back in a couple of weeks.  The USC series (May 21-23) seems like a logical weekend for his return, but I have no knowledge at this point whether that will be happening. 


"Super Sixteen"

                      Record    Pvs.
1. Miami               36-9      2
   
* Canes have still yet to lose a series after their sweep of visiting Jacksonville last weekend.

2. Stanford            37-8      1
   
* Cardinal fall from top spot after losing 2-of-3 at Washington.

3. Texas               46-8      3
   
* Longhorns back on track after sweep of Kansas in Austin.

4. LSU                 36-13     5
   
* Tigers notch 2-of-3 series win at Kentucky over the weekend.

5. East Carolina       41-7      6
   
* Pirates get blown out in a midweek game by UNC-Wilmington, but bounce back to easily sweep St. Louis on the road.

6. Rice                35-9      4
   
* Owls slip up at Hawaii as they drop 2-of-3 games.

7. South Carolina      34-13     7
   
* Gamecocks get a key 2-of-3 series win at Auburn.

8. Long Beach State    34-12     9
   
* 49ers come up with a 4-0 week that includes home sweep of Pacific.

9. Tulane              34-15    10
   
* Green Wave take 2-of-3 at home from South Florida.

10. Arkansas           33-16     8
   
* Hogs (16-8) now tied with Florida for best record in the SEC after losing 2-of-3 at Mississippi.

11. Florida            36-13    12
   
* Gators continue to roll as they win 2-of-3 at Alabama over the weekend.

12. Arizona State      32-13    13
   
* Sun Devils sweep a two-game, midweek series from New Mexico State.

13. Oklahoma State     31-15    14
   
* Cowboys have taken the first two games of their series with Nebraska (third game today).

14. Washington         28-15-1  16
   
* Huskies with a huge series win as they take 2-of-3 from Stanford in Seattle.

15. Virginia           37-11    11
   
* Cavs still lead the ACC, but the gap is much smaller now after they lost 2-of-3 at home to Florida State.

16. Notre Dame         37-9     15
   
* Irish with a pair of wins over UConn - third game of series is today.

Dropped Out: none



Santa Clara Notes

The Cardinal get together with the Broncos for the fourth and final time this Tuesday at Sunken Diamond.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:00pm.  Santa Clara won 2-of-3 at home over USF this past weekend to move their overall record to 22-27 (11-13 in the WCC).  It's been a disappointing season for the Broncos as they were expected to challenge for the WCC title, but they still have a chance to salvage something this year with a victory over the 2nd ranked Cardinal.

Stanford has won the first three of the season series, 18-4 and 12-8 (14 innings) in Santa Clara, and 12-3 in Palo Alto.  The Broncos' main problem this year has been pitching with a team ERA of 6.09.  And like Stanford, expect Santa Clara to use a bunch of relievers in the game tomorrow.  One thing to keep in mind though is that SCU has one of the top closers in college baseball in Palo Alto native Anthony Rea (1.94 ERA, 12 Saves).  Rea blew the save the last time these teams met, however he was the reason the game remained deadlocked until the 14th with 5 1/3 quality innings of work (1 run allowed).

Santa Clara has a very respectable .295 team batting average.  They are led at the plate by a pair of transfers in Nic Crosta (.374-11-43) and Will Thompson (.323-11-40).  Crosta transferred from Texas, Thompson from Arizona.  Five starters for the Broncos are hitting above .300.


On Deck

After Tuesday's game with Santa Clara, Stanford heads back out on the road for their final regular season games of the year away from Sunken Diamond.  The destination is Tucson for a three-game series with the Arizona Wildcats.  Because Arizona is taking final exams this week, the series has been pushed back to Saturday-through-Monday.  Saturday's and Sunday's games are both scheduled for 7:00pm start times while Monday's contest will get underway at 1:00pm.  The team will then fly back to the Bay Area Monday evening and then get set for a home game the following evening versus the USF Dons (6pm start).  That USF contest is the final Tuesday game of the regular season.
          

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