Fresno State Preview

The Cardinal continue their march through a tough preseason non-conference schedule as they travel to Fresno to play the FSU Bulldogs. Fresno State may not have had the early success they wanted in this young campaign, but they have some excellent pitching. Check out the full preview of the weekend series, plus this week's installment of JJ's "Super Sixteen" rankings!

STANFORD (5-2) at FRESNO STATE (3-4)

Friday - 7:05pm
Saturday - 1:05pm
Sunday - 1:05pm

The top ranked Stanford baseball team heads back out on the road this weekend as they get set to do battle with the Fresno State Bulldogs in a three-game series.  The Cardinal took two out of three games from the then-6th ranked Florida State Seminoles last weekend in Tallahassee.  Stanford opened the series with seven runs in the first inning and cruised to a 9-3 victory in game one.  Game two saw the Cardinal fall behind 7-1 only to come back and win 15-11 behind the bats of Ryan Garko (HR, 3 RBI) and Donny Lucy (3 hits, 3 RBI).  The Seminoles bounced back in the series finale coming from behind to claim a 7-6 victory and salvage a game in the series.  Earlier this week, Stanford easily defeated the BYU Cougars 8-1 in their first mid-week contest of the season.

The theme of this young season for the Stanford Cardinal has been offense.  The Cardinal are hitting at a .345 clip through their first seven games while averaging 9.3 runs per game.  Currently three hitters are hitting over .400, while seven of the nine starters are at hitting .333 or above.  The pitching hasn't been too bad either as #1 starter Jeremy Guthrie has won his first two starts while giving up only four earned runs in the process.  Tim Cunningham and Mark Jecmen have both been up-and-down to start the season, but it was expected early on as each gets used to their role as starters.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.423, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
* Has scored 11 runs and been hit by the pitch five times already this season.

1B - Donny Lucy (.333, 1 HR, 10 RBI)
* Freshman was inserted into the starting lineup last weekend and in four games he's already compiled 10 RBI.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.281, 1 HR, 6 RBI)
* After getting just two hits in his first three games, he's recorded seven hits over his last four contests.

3B - Andy Topham (.333, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
* Team-leading eight strikeouts in just 27 at-bats.

SS - Scott Dragicevich (.448, 0 HR, 3 RBI)
* Most consistent hitter with six multi-hit games already this season.

LF - Brian Hall (.259, 1 HR, 8 RBI)
* Was a perfect 3-of-3 in the stolen base category last weekend at Florida State.

CF - Sam Fuld (.419, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
* Hit first career home run on Tuesday night versus BYU.

RF - Carlos Quentin (.381, 2 HR, 9 RBI)
* After getting plunked again on Tuesday, he's now been hit by the pitch a team-high seven times this season.

DH - Jason Cooper (.375, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
* Only one extra base hit this season, but has also only struck out three times.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 2-0, 3.00 ERA, 12 IP, 2 BB, 17 SO)
* Has given up 16 hits in 12 innings, but only one of those hits has gone for extra bases.

Saturday - TBA
* Likely starter is freshman Mark Jecmen who threw much better last weekend in Florida.

Sunday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 2-0, 3.27 ERA, 11 IP, 5 BB, 5 SO)
* After not getting out of the second inning last Saturday, threw four shutout innings on Tuesday versus BYU.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* J.D. Willcox (0-0, 1.42), Ryan McCally (0-0, 0.00, 2 SV), John Hudgins (1-0, 4.32), and Drew Ehrlich (0-0, 2.57, 1 SV).

-- Fresno State Bulldogs --

As usual, expectations are high in Fresno as legandary coach Bob Bennett embarks on his final year at the helm for the Bulldogs.  FSU was ranked 29th in Baseball America's preseason top 100 and have been picked by many to finish second in the WAC this season (behind Rice).  The Bulldogs are currently 3-4 on this young 2002 campaign as they've yet to win a weekend series.  They began the year by dropping 2-of-3 games at Santa Clara and then last weekend traveled down to Cal State Fullerton and again lost 2-of-3.  Earlier this week, Fresno State doubled up Cal Poly 14-7.  After scoring only 13 runs in their first four games (1-3), the FSU hitters have turned it up putting across 35 in their last three contests (2-1).

Players to watch on this Fresno State team include RHP/1B Ben Fritz, OF Tobey Riday-White, and RHP Bob Runyon.  Fritz is hitting .312 with a homer so far this year and will start on the mound on Sunday.  Riday-White has been the top Fresno hitter this season as he's hitting at a .500 clip through the first seven games.  Runyon is FSU's pitching ace and is coming off a 10-win season.  The Bulldogs are hitting at .276 as a team this year while their team ERA sits at 5.34.  Fielding has been a major problem so far as Fresno State has committed 16 errors through seven games this season.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Brad Harper (.118, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
* Four-year starter behind the dish, career .274 hitter.

1B - Ben Fritz (.312, 1 HR, 3 RBI)
* Versatile player, can also catch and is scheduled to start on the hill on Sunday.

2B - Carl Lipsey (.192, 0 HR, 3 RBI)
* True-freshman, Baseball America's pick to win WAC Newcomer of the Year.

3B - Casey McGehee (.310, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
* Hit .324 last year as a freshman earning honorable mention freshman All-American honors.

SS - Chris Patrick (.207, 0 HR, 5 RBI)
* leadoff hitter, already with four errors this season.

LF - Christian Hallaian (.167, 1 HR, 2 RBI) or Brendon Suga (.200, 0 HR, 0 RBI)
* Position still up for grabs, could see a number of players here this weekend.

CF - Casey Creamer (.364, 0 HR, 2 RBI)
* Played in only one game last year as a junior (was a JC transfer).

RF - Tobey Riday-White (.500, 2 HR, 7 RBI)
* Hit .355 last year in 38 games starting part-time.

DH - Brian Pierce (.318, 0 HR, 4 RBI)
* JC transfer, has emerged as one of FSU's top hitters.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Bob Runyon (RHP; 1-1, 3.21 ERA, 14 IP, 5 BB, 11 SO)
* Went 10-1 with a 3.54 ERA in 2001, led team in wins, innings (127), and strikeouts (93).

Saturday - TBA
* Likely candidates include Francisco Nieves (0-0, 2.84), Zach Minor (0-1, 8.64), or Mike Hernandez (1-1, 5.59).

Sunday - Ben Fritz (RHP; 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 17 IP, 3 BB, 9 SO)
* Has thrown two complete games in two starts this season.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Nieves, Minor, Hernandez, and Sean Ruthven (0-0, 16.20).

Keys to the Series :
* Get to their starters ... FSU's strength is their starting pitching with Runyon and Fritz, so if the Cardinal hitters are able to knock them out early and get to FSU's extremely thin bullpen, I like Stanford's chances.

* Tim Cunningham and whoever starts on Saturday ... it appears that Guthrie has picked up right where he left off last season, now the Cardinal just needs some consistancy out of the other two spots in the rotation.  It would figure that with Stanford's potent offense and quality relief pitchers, that if the #2 and #3 starters can just go five or six quality innings, this team has a great shot to win.

* Tobey Riday-White ... FSU's big bopper who is hitting .500 this year.  In a sometimes anemic offense, Riday-White has been extremely consistant and effective this season.  He needs to have a big series or else Fresno could be in trouble.

JJ's "Super Sixteen"
(Records are through games of Tuesday 2-12)

Rank -- Team -- Record -- P


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