Santa Clara Preview

A familiar face returns to Sunken Diamond this weekend as former Stanford assistant Mark O'Brien brings his Santa Clara Broncos to town for a 3-game series. It's been a one-sided series over the past five years with the Cardinal taking the last 19 games. Read on for a full preview plus a look at JJ's "Super Sixteen" national rankings.

Santa Clara (4-6) vs. Stanford (7-3)

Friday - 6:00pm (at Stanford)
Saturday - 4:00pm (at Santa Clara)
Sunday - 1:00pm (at Stanford)

The top ranked Stanford Cardinal baseball team returns to the bay area this weekend for a three-game series versus their south bay rival, Santa Clara.  The Cardinal (7-3) took 2-of-3 games from the Fresno State Bulldogs last weekend over in Fresno for their third straight series win to open the season.  Jeremy Guthrie threw seven quality innings and Carlos Quentin led the offensive attack by going 4-for-4 in the series opening 6-2 win on Friday night.  The Bulldogs bounced back on Saturday touching up Mark Jecmen for four early runs and then holding on for a 7-5 victory.  The Cardinal took the rubber game of the series on Monday as Quentin, Donny Lucy, and Andy Topham each homered while Tim Cunningham pitched 7 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run.

The Stanford-Santa Clara series has been very one-sided lately in favor of the Cardinal.  Stanford has won 19 consecutive meetings between the teams with SCU's last win over the Cardinal coming on February 16, 1997.  Individually for Stanford there are numerous players that have put up solid numbers through the first ten games of the season.  Carlos Quentin is currently leading the club with a whopping .485 batting average and also has clubbed the most home runs with three.  Scott Dragicevich and Sam Fuld have also enjoyed a lot of success early on with each player batting at .400 or above.  Freshman Donny Lucy has emerged as the starting first baseman with a team-leading 15 RBI in only seven starts.  On the pitching side, Jeremy Guthrie and Tim Cunningham have both started hot as each boasts a perfect 3-0 record to start the season.  Ryan McCally has been the top reliever as he's not allowed a run in eight innings of work.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.395, 2 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Has struggled defensively early on with six passed balls and three errors already this season.

1B - Donny Lucy (.333, 2 HR, 15 RBI)
    * Has recorded at least one RBI in all seven of his starts.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.277, 1 HR, 6 RBI)
    * Currently has a couple of mini streaks ... has hit safely in seven consecutive games and has not made an error in nine straight contests.

3B - Andy Topham (.289, 1 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Hit first home run of the season last Monday versus Fresno after hitting seven last year (fourth on the club).

SS - Scott Dragicevich (.425, 0 HR, 5 RBI)
    * Has hit safely in nine of ten games this year and has not committed an error since opening night.

LF - Chris Carter (.333, 0 HR, 1 RBI) or Brian Hall (.219, 1 HR, 8 RBI)
    * Hall started the first eight games of the season with Carter starting the last two.

CF - Sam Fuld (.400, 1 HR, 4 RBI)
    * A modest 5-for-17 (.294) in first four games ... a sizzling 13-for-28 (.464) in last six contests.

RF - Carlos Quentin (.485, 3 HR, 12 RBI)
    * Leads team in hitting, slugging percentage (.818), on-base percentage (.578), and for good measure has also been plunked a team-high seven times this year.

DH - Jason Cooper (.361, 0 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Not hitting homers as expected yet, but has only struck out four times in 36 at-bats this year.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 3-0, 2.84 ERA, 19 IP, 3 BB, 21 SO)
    * Has won eight consecutive decisions dating back to May of last season.

Saturday - TBA
    * Freshman Mark Jecmen has gotten the nod here the previous three weeks, but has lost all three decisions to go with a 12.38 ERA.

Sunday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 3-0, 1.93 ERA, 18 2/3 IP, 7 BB, 11 SO)
    * Has won nine consecutive decisions dating back to May of 2000.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
RHP - J.D. Willcox (0-0, 1.42 ERA)
    * Co-led team with six saves last season, but has yet to record one this year.

Others : Ryan McCally (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-0, 3.46 ERA, 1 SV), and John Hudgins (1-0, 3.72 ERA).

-- Santa Clara Broncos --

A familiar face returns to Sunken Diamond this weekend in SCU head coach Mark O'Brien.  O'Brien was one of Stanford's assistant coaches the last three seasons, but has moved on to become the Broncos head man.  He inherited a program that went just 22-33 last season, but finished strong and has the majority of players returning from that squad.  Santa Clara jumped out of the gate strong this season starting 3-1 which included a series win over Fresno State to begin the year.  But since then the Broncos have struggled as they dropped five in a row before taking the final game of a rain shortened two-game series with UC Irvine last weekend.

The Broncos' strength early on has been their starting pitching.  Their #1 and #2 starters in Chad Fillinger and John Redmond both have ERA's under two while their closer Grant Feichtmeir has already saved two games without giving up a run.  Unfortunately for SCU, not much else has gone right this season.  Only three of their starting hitters are hitting above .250 heading into this weekend which explains why the Broncos are averaging only 4.6 runs per game.  Two hitters have stood out early on in RF Joey Gomes (.447, 1 HR, 8 RBI) and SS A.J. LaBarbera (.341, 1 HR, 7 RBI), but for the most part, the remainder of the SCU lineup has struggled.  Santa Clara has hit only five home runs through ten games this season and rely more on their speed to manufacture runs (already have 18 stolen bases as a team).  Their defense has also been somewhat suspect with 18 errors already this year.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Jim Wallace (.241, 2 HR, 4 RBI)
    * Has struck out a whopping 15 times in 29 at-bats this season.

1B - Kellan McConnell (.200, 0 HR, 3 RBI)
    * Was primarily a pitcher last season going 4-2 with a 4.43 ERA in 16 games (9 starts).

2B - Jack Headley (.188, 0 HR, 6 RBI)
    * First team All-WCC last year when he hit .341.

3B - Pat Peavey (.317, 1 HR, 6 RBI)
    * Led the team in hitting last year with a .368 average.

SS - A.J. LaBarbera (.341, 1 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Has been one of their top hitters, but has committed nine errors already this year.

LF - Joe Diefenderfer (.179, 0 HR, 2 RBI)
    * Only five hits in nine starts this year ... probable starter on the hill on Sunday.

CF - Ryan Chiarelli (.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
    * True freshman has started from day one this season.

RF - Joey Gomes (.447, 1 HR, 8 RBI)
    * Top offensive threat ... leads team in hitting, runs, hits, doubles, RBI, SLG%, and OB%.

    * Has been a revolving door this season for the Broncos ... Candidates include David Mandley (.294-0-2) and Scott Dierks (.000-0-0) among others.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Chad Fillinger (RHP; 0-1, 1.76 ERA, 15 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 8 SO)
    * Was a reliever last year making 25 appearances and only 1 start (6-1, 4.43).

Saturday - John Redmond (LHP; 2-1, 1.45 ERA, 18 2/3 IP, 4 BB, 9 SO)
    * Regular starter last season compiling a 5-4 record with a team low 4.39 ERA.

Sunday - Joe Diefenderfer (LHP; 1-2, 7.62 ERA, 13 IP, 4 BB, 9 SO)
    * 5-6 with a 4.92 last season in 16 games (13 starts).

Primary Relief Pitchers :
RHP - Grant Feichtmeir (0-1, 0.00 ERA, 2 SV)

Others : A.J. Ampi (0-0, 5.87 ERA), Matthew Travis (1-0, 8.38 ERA), and Jared Anderson (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Keys to the Series :
* Make them swing the bat ... the Broncos have struggled with the bat this year, so don't put them on base with walks and let them use their excellent team speed.  Force them to swing the bats and based on prior results this year, they won't be all that successful.

* Find a #3 starter ... Mark Jecmen has struggled mightily early on this season and there is still a hole in the third spot in the rotation.  Whether it be Jecmen, or one of the many Stanford relievers itching for a spot in the rotation, someone needs to step up and get some consistency in this spot in the rotation.

* Keep Swinging ... whatever it is the Cardinal hitters are doing so far this season, keep doing it.  The offense has been very impressive this season and shouldn't keep this team out of any game.

JJ's "Super Sixteen"
Team (Record, previous ranking)
** Records are through Monday 2-18**

1. Stanford (7-3, 1)
    * Cardinal take 2-of-3 from Fresno last weekend to hold onto top spot.

2. Clemson (0-0, 2)
    * Tigers finally get started this weekend with a 3-game set versus Auburn.

3. Florida State (10-3, 3)
    * Seminoles with impressive three-game sweep of Arizona State last weekend.

4. Notre Dame (0-0, 4)
    * Fighting Irish begin their 2002 campaign this weekend.

5. Rice (6-1, 10)
    * Owls make big jump in the poll with wins over other "Super 16" teams in Nebraska and Wake Forest.

6. Tulane (4-2, 7)
    * Green Wave rebound from Pepperdine series loss to sweep Villanova.

7. LSU (6-1, 8)
    * Tigers swept Mercer last weekend, take on Houston this weekend.

8. Miami (5-4, 9)
    * Hurricanes back on track with three-game sweep of Minnesota.

9. Cal State Fullerton (6-3, 11)
    * Titans sweep UNLV and do so in fashion outscoring them 41-4.

10. Wake Forest (3-1, 14)
    * Demon Deacons with impressive showing at Rice Tournament with a win over Nebraska.

11. Nebraska (1-2, 6)
    * Cornhuskers stumble out of the gate with tough losses to Rice and Wake.

12. Oklahoma State (5-0, 13)
    * Comboys go 3-0 last week with wins over Loyola Marymount, Cal Poly, and UC Riverside.

13. Mississippi State (0-0, 12)
    * Bulldogs get going this weekend by hosting their own round-robin tournament.

14. USC (2-5, 5)
    * Trojans take biggest drop in poll after getting swept by Baylor.

15. Texas (7-2, 16)
    * Longhorns sweep Sam Houston State including a 23-0 pasting in the Saturday contest.

16. Florida (8-0, NA)
    * Gators make first appearance in poll with three wins last week.

Dropped Out : Arizona State

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