Baseball Weekend Roundup

The Stanford Cardinal swept away the visiting Kansas Jayhawks last weekend to remain perfect at home this young season. In this week's Roundup, we take a look at the Stanford lineup and what's gone right so far in addition to where the concerns reside. Plus, read on for notes on the Pac-10 plus an updated "Super Sixteen" national ranking.

Pac-10 Standings (overall records):

Arizona            6-0
USC                3-0
Stanford           7-2
Oregon State       3-1
UCLA               6-3
Arizona State      6-4
Washington State   3-3
California         3-4
Washington         0-3

Overall, it was a good weekend for the Pac-10 conference.  USC made the most noise by sweeping a two-game, home-and-home series from 17th ranked Long Beach State.  The Dirtbags were playing without their star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (who will miss a couple of more weeks with an injury) as the Trojans took the games by the scores of 4-3 and 7-5.  We'll likely find out pretty quickly what kind of team USC has this season as they take on Cal State Fullerton in a home-and-home set this weekend and then it's a trip to Stanford on the docket.  So far, so good for a Trojan team looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002.

Preseason 8th ranked Washington took one on the chin last weekend when they traveled down to UC Irvine and were swept by the Anteaters.  Irvine is a good team, and they now find themselves ranked 19th in the country, but this certainly wasn't the Huskies had in mind for opening weekend as they were outscored by a 19-6 margin.  Washington has been picked by many to finish second in the Pac-10 this season and a serious threat to reach the College World Series, on paper.

Other action saw Stanford sweep the Kansas Jayhawks at home - a projected middle of the road team in the Big 12 this season.  Arizona crushed Northern Colorado winning three games in Tucson by a combined margin of 39-3.  The Wildcats have put up some unbelievable numbers through six games this season although against very little competition (New Mexico was their opponent two weeks ago).

Arizona State had an up-and-down weekend beating South Alabama and Oklahoma in a round-robin tournament in the Phoenix Area.  But they were then shutout by Gonzaga, 2-0, in their final game of the tourney.  ASU has plenty of talent, but have been a bit inconsistent thus far in the early season.  Meanwhile, California took 2-of-3 at Loyola Marymount to inch closer to .500 while Washington State traveled south and won 2-of-3 at Southeastern Louisiana.  Finally, UCLA won both games of their rain-shortened two-game series with Cal State Northridge (probably the worst team in the Big West) while Oregon State had their weekend washed away down in Arizona as they were supposed to play in a round-robin tournament.

This weekend is a huge one for the Pac-10 with four teams heading out on the road for key non-conference series'.  Arizona State heads to New Orleans for a three-game set with top-ranked Tulane.  The Cardinal take on #4 Texas in their annual non-conference series.  California travels down the coast to battle now-20th ranked Long Beach State for three games.  Meanwhile, the Trojans have their aforementioned home-and-home series with 3rd ranked Cal State Fullerton.

Washington tries to get back on track with a series at Santa Clara while Arizona takes on UT-Pan American on the road for three games.

Stanford Notes

Stanford swept away the visiting Jayhawks this past weekend, 7-3, 9-2, and 7-6.  The Cardinal have hit the ball very well in their seven wins this season with an impressive .321 batting average (last year's team hit .324 - third highest in school history).  However, Stanford's overall team batting average is still lower than normal early on because of their back-to-back three-hit efforts in the two losses at Cal State Fullerton.  A week later though, those poor offensive outputs don't look so bad when you consider Titans ace Ricky Romero took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his start versus Fresno State a few days ago.  Then #2 starter Ryan Schreppel carried a no-no into the seventh a day later.

Nevertheless, the Cardinal have been doing it with the home run ball so far this year - much like last season.  Stanford has hit 13 roundtrippers through the first nine games - a very high total for so early in the season.  Jed Lowrie and John Mayberry, Jr. are right on target for their projected big seasons with seven longballs between them (Lowrie at 4, Junior at 3).  Chris Lewis has picked up right where he left off last season in the power department with already three homers in 2005.  And while John Hester has yet to homer, the slugging catcher has belted five doubles in the early going.  If he keeps this pace up, he would shatter the single-season Stanford doubles mark (although it's still very early).

The main concern with the offense right now has to be finding some production from the DH spot.  Ben Summerhays is just 2-for-15 in the early going while Ryan Seawell is at 1-for-9.  Freshmen Brendan Domaracki and Jeff Boes are even starting to get a look from Coach Marquess.  Major production isn't required from this spot in the lineup, but you have to hope someone emerges soon or else the bottom part of the order will be seen as a major weakness of this Stanford team.  Lots of inexperienced hitters are battling it out at DH and we'll see which player(s) step up in the coming weeks.

Freshman right fielder Michael Taylor, who has hit in the leadoff spot in the last four games (all Stanford wins) may slowly but surely be coming along.  After going hitless in the Fresno series, Taylor rapped out two hits in Fullerton before a 3-for-13 weekend against the Jayhawks that included a triple.  Marquess is clearly giving Taylor plenty of chances to establish himself as an everyday player and with little overall outfield depth, it has to be fairly comforting to Michael that he knows the job is his for the time being.  It will also be interesting to see if Taylor remains in the leadoff spot in the lineup in the future too.

Of note, Marquess doesn't often give this much playing time to a freshman hitter.   Last year, Adam Sorgi would get a start or two during the weekend prior to Chris Minaker taking over the shortstop position for good in late March.  John Mayberry, Jr. was in the lineup from day one in 2003 and started his career on fire with a .371 batting average prior to the start of Pac-10 play.  Some recent stars barely played as frosh with Danny Putnam garnering just 11 starts his rookie season (he hit .212).  Ryan Garko made only nine starts as a freshman while hitting .143.  Meanwhile, Sam Fuld played a lot early in his career, but started with just six hits in his first 35 AB's (.171) back in 2001.  Marquess is asking a lot of Taylor, especially if he continues to hit leadoff, and we'll see if the freshman can continue to improve and be a reliable contributor in the lineup.

"Super Sixteen"

                     Record   Pvs.
1. Texas              7-0      1
* Longhorns remain perfect with a three-game home sweep of UNLV.

2. Miami              7-0      2
* Hurricanes also off to a good start as they take three in a row over South Florida.

3. CS Fullerton       4-1      3
* Titans take both games of rain-shortened series with Fresno State (outscored the Bulldogs 21-1).

4. Stanford           7-2      4
* Cardinal win all three games of their series against visiting Kansas.

5. South Carolina     3-0      5
* Gamecocks open season by sweeping "powerhouse" Longwood at home.

6. LSU                2-0      6
* Tigers have taken first two games of their series with Nicholls State (final game is today).

7. Tulane             3-0      8
* Green Wave start their season with easy three-game sweep of SE Missouri State.

8. Georgia            0-0      9

9. Mississippi        0-0     10

10. Arizona           6-0     11
* Wildcats still perfect after weekend sweep of Northern Colorado.

11. Washington        0-3      7
* Huskies take a tumble after getting swept on the road by UC Irvine.

12. Long Beach State  5-3     12
* Dirtbags drop a pair of games to USC.

13. Arizona State     6-4     13
* Sun Devils go 2-1 over weekend with wins over South Alabama and Oklahoma and a loss to Gonzaga.

14. Florida           2-1     14
* Gators win 2-of-3 from visiting Charleston Southern to begin year.

15. North Carolina    0-0     16

16. Baylor            3-0     NR
* Bears in the "Super Sixteen" after perfect weekend at a tournament in Houston (wins over Houston, Tennessee, and Rice).

Dropped Out: Texas A&M (1-2, 1-2 last week)

Baseball America

The Cardinal stayed put at #6 in this week's Baseball America Top 25 poll.  Their opponent this weekend, the Texas Longhorns, remained at #4.  Four Pac-10 teams continue to reside in the top 12 with Arizona checking in at #10, ASU at #11, and Washington at #12.  Other west coast teams in the poll include #3 Cal State Fullerton, #19 UC Irvine, and #20 Long Beach State.

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