Cal Poly Preview

The top ranked Cardinal baseball squad is back at home this weekend as they host the Cal Poly Mustangs in a three-game series. Read on for a preview of the series, a comparison of how this year's team stacks up with last year's club, and this week's installment of JJ's "Super Sixteen" national rankings.

Cal Poly (9-11-1) at Stanford (9-4)

Friday - 6:00pm
Saturday - 1:00pm
Sunday - 1:00pm

The top ranked Stanford Cardinal baseball team begins the second month of the 2002 regular season this weekend with a three-game series versus the Cal Poly Mustangs.  The Cardinal took 2-of-3 games from the Santa Clara Broncos last weekend to win their fourth consecutive series to start the year.  Stanford took the opening game 5-4 behind a strong pitching performance from Jeremy Guthrie and a game-winning RBI single off the bat of Jason Cooper in the bottom of ninth inning.  The Broncos bounced back on Saturday to defeat the Cardinal 13-9 despite giving up six Stanford runs in the top of the first inning.  The Cardinal took the rubber game of the series on Sunday with an 8-7 victory.  Ryan Garko's two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning won it for the Cardinal.  Stanford hosts Cal Poly this weekend as they try to win their 17th consecutive home 3-game series (regular season only).

With a month completed in the 2002 season and 13 games in the books, I thought I would do a comparison of where this team stacks up with the 2001 team after 13 games.

                        2002        2001

Record                   9-4         9-4

Batting Average         .336        .269
Runs Per Game            8.2         5.9
Home Runs                 13          13
Extra Base Hits           50          33
Slugging Percentage     .500        .397
On-Base Percentage      .401        .357
Stolen Bases              12          25

Earned Run Average      4.26        3.42
Opponents Batting Avg.  .284        .225
Walks Per 9 Innings      3.6         3.7
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings 8.2         7.4
Home Runs Given Up        10           5

Errors                    19          14
Fielding Percentage     .963        .974

From these numbers it is obvious that the hitting is much improved this season.  The team batting average is 67 points higher while the team is scoring almost 2 1/2 more runs per game.  But with the records being the exact same, that must mean something isn't as good.  The team ERA this season is almost a full run higher than what it was at this time last year.  Now that had to be expected considering the Cardinal lost three key hurlers (Gosling, Bruksch, and Wodnicki) from last year and a 4.26 team ERA is still pretty good.  Walks certainly aren't the problem as this year's squad is walking opposing hitters at essentially the same rate as last year.  It's the opposing team batting average that has skyrocketed.  The lack of a successful third starter is a big reason why the pitching numbers are also higher this year.  Stanford is 9-0 when Jeremy Guthrie or Tim Cunningham start on the hill with a combined team ERA of 2.77.  While in the games those two don't start, the Card are 0-4 with a team ERA of 7.91.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.429, 3 HR, 13 RBI)
    * Had a big series versus Santa Clara going 6-for-11 with a home run and six RBI.

1B - Donny Lucy (.333, 3 HR, 19 RBI)
    * Still on an incredible RBI pace ... has recorded at least one RBI in all ten of his starts this year.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.276, 1 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Still looking for breakout game with the bat this season, but does have a 10-game hitting streak.

3B - Andy Topham (.304, 1 HR, 10 RBI)
    * Has struck out a team-high 13 times already this season.

SS - Scott Dragicevich (.377, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Has been solid with the glove this year as he's committed only two errors in 54 chances (.963%)

LF - Brian Hall (.256, 1 HR, 10 RBI) or Chris Carter (.286, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
    * Past few games has seen Hall start versus the lefties, Carter against the righthanders.

CF - Sam Fuld (.345, 1 HR, 4 RBI)
    * Struggled with the bat recently after a hot start ... just 2 hits in his last 18 at-bats.

RF - Carlos Quentin (.400, 3 HR, 13 RBI)
    * Cooled off in the SCU series going just 2-for-12.

DH - Jason Cooper (.386, 0 HR, 10 RBI)
    * Continues to do well at the plate despite not hitting any homers ... went 3-for-4 in the series finale versus SCU on Sunday.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 3-0, 3.12 ERA, 26 IP, 6 BB, 28 SO)
    * Junior righthander has won eight consecutive decisions dating back to May of last year.

Saturday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 3-0, 2.81 ERA, 25 2/3 IP, 10 BB, 17 SO)
    * Walks are down this season ... 4.82 BB/9 inn. last season, 3.51 BB/9 inn. this season.

Sunday - TBA
    * Ryan McCally got the nod here last weekend and gave up six runs in just 1 1/3 innings.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* J.D. Willcox (1-0, 1.17 ERA), John Hudgins (1-0, 4.63 ERA), Ryan McCally (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 2 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-1, 5.27 ERA).

-- Cal Poly Mustangs --

It's been an up-and-down beginning of the season for the Cal Poly Mustangs this year.  Picked to finish in the middle of the pack in Big West Conference, the Mustangs jumped out of the gate to an 8-4-1 start.  But then they fell on hard times dropping seven consecutive games before winning the final game of their series with San Jose State last Sunday.  Cal Poly's strength lies with their hitting as they average eight runs per game while swinging the bats at a .328 clip.  The pitching has been the problem as the Mustangs team ERA is well above six as they've given up 14 or more runs on four separate occasions this season.  In common opponents with the Cardinal, Cal Poly has gone 1-0 versus BYU and 0-1 versus Fresno State.

The big hitter in the impressive Cal Poly lineup is first baseman Tony Alcantar.  Alcantar is hitting a sizzling .468 this season with three homers, 18 RBI, and a .742 on-base percentage.  Alcantar hits third in their lineup and is no doubt the focal point in their offensive attack.  Other players to watch include leadoff hitter Bryan Gant (.386-0-14) and catcher Kyle Wilson (.333-4-16).  Seven of Cal Poly's starters are hitting above .300.  On the pitching side of things, the stars don't shine as bright.  Friday starter Tyler Fitch has had a pretty good start to the year going 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA.  The rest of the rotation has been very inconsistent and are certainly susceptible to giving up a lot of runs.  The bullpen isn't much better as six of their eight relievers that have seen significant action this year have ERA's above seven.  Expect the Cardinal to put up some runs this weekend against this staff, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Kyle Wilson (.333, 4 HR, 16 RBI)
    * Has thrown out just 18% of attempted base stealers this season.

1B - Tony Alcantar (.468, 3 HR, 18 RBI)
    * Leads team in hitting, doubles (tied), slugging percentage, and on-base percentage.

2B - Sam Herbert (.250, 0 HR, 0 RBI)
    * Has only 12 at-bats this year, but is listed as the probable starter at second.

3B - Aaron Escobedo (.356, 1 HR, 19 RBI)
    * JC All-American last year at Santa Ana College.

SS - Scott Anderson (.269, 1 HR, 16 RBI)
    * Outstanding defensively this year with only one error in 21 games.

LF - Brian Haskell (.309, 2 HR, 11 RBI)
    * Was primarily a pitcher last year making 15 appearances (13 starts) on the mound ... has yet to pitch in 2002.

CF - Jason Barringer (.333, 1 HR, 11 RBI)
    * Hit only .218 last year in 46 games, but has turned things around this year.

RF - Chalon Tietje (.351, 1 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Part-time player last year as a freshman appearing in 32 games (13 starts).

DH - Bryan Gant (.386, 0 HR, 14 RBI)
    * Four-year starter ... career .339 hitter.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Tyler Fitch (RHP; 2-2, 4.31 ERA, 31 1/3 IP, 13 BB, 9 SO)
    * One of the top pitchers on the staff in 2001 going 5-5 with a 5.65 ERA as a member of the starting rotation.

Saturday - Nick Doan (RHP; 0-2, 7.53 ERA, 14 1/3 IP, 4 BB, 4 SO)
    * Will be making his first start of 2002 ... leads team with 10 appearances out of the bullpen.

Sunday - Kevin Correia (RHP; 3-1, 5.24 ERA, 34 1/3 IP, 19 BB, 22 SO)
    * Gave up only one earned run in seven innings last Sunday vs. SJSU to snap Cal Poly's 7-game losing streak.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Frank McLaughlin (0-1, 2.04 ERA, 1 SV), Quinn McGinnis (2-2, 7.11 ERA), Brett Larson (0-0, 9.00 ERA), Matt Powers (0-1, 8.64 ERA).

JJ's "Super Sixteen"
Team (Record, previous ranking)
** Records are through Monday 2-25 **

1. Stanford (9-4, 1)
    * Cardinal take fourth straight series by winning 2-of-3 versus Santa Clara.

2. Clemson (3-0, 2)
    * Tigers open season with a sweep of Auburn at home.

3. Florida State (12-4, 3)
    * Seminoles go 2-1 last week with a single win over Siena and a spilt of two games versus Jacksonville.

4. Rice (10-1, 5)
    * Owls continue hot play to start season by winning their own tournament last weekend.

5. Tulane (7-3, 6)
    * Green Wave go 3-1 last week including series win over George Washington.

6. Cal State Fullerton (9-4, 9)
    * Titans continue to play well as they go down to Tempe and take 2-of-3 from the Sun Devils.

7. Wake Forest (6-1, 10)
    * Demon Deacons go a perfect 3-0 last weekend with a sweep of Cincinnati.

8. Miami (8-4, 8)
    * Hurricanes starting to pick it up after a rough start with a 3-0 week.

9. Texas (12-2, 15)
    * Longhorns go 5-0 last week including a weekend sweep of Loyola Marymount.

10. LSU (8-3, 7)
    * Tigers drop 2-of-3 games at Houston last weekend.

11. Nebraska (3-3, 11)
    * Huskers go 2-1 in a round-robin tournament last weekend.

12. Florida (10-0, 16)
    * Gators off to a perfect 10-0 start this season, they won both their games played last week.

13. Notre Dame (1-2, 4)
    * Irish take biggest drop after losing games to New Orleans and Southern Illinois.

14. USC (5-5, 14)
    * Trojans get back on track with a three-game weekend sweep of rival UCLA.

15. South Carolina (9-0, NA)
    * Gamecocks make first appearance in poll by winning difficult tournament last weekend.

16. Oklahoma State (6-2, 12)
    * Cowboys go 1-2 last week with losses coming to CS Northridge and San Diego.

Dropped Out : Mississippi State

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