Texas Preview

The top ranked Stanford Cardinal return home for the first time in almost a month this weekend to battle the 16th ranked Texas Longhorns in a three-game series. The matchup to watch will be Stanford's potent offense versus Texas' dominating starting pitching. Read on for a preview of the series plus a look at JJ's "Super Sixteen" national rankings.

Texas (24-6) at Stanford (17-5)

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

The top ranked Stanford Cardinal return home this weekend to take on the 16th ranked Texas Longhorns in a three-game series.  The Cardinal (17-5) swept the USC Trojans last weekend down in Los Angeles in a non-conference series.  Stanford took the opening game 9-6 despite falling behind 5-0 after two innings.  They outlasted the Trojans 12-10 in 11 innings in the middle contest while they completed the sweep on Sunday with a 5-4 victory.  It was Stanford's first sweep against USC in Los Angeles since 1997 and their seventh consecutive series win to begin the year.  This weekend, the Cardinal host the Longhorns in a matchup between two nationally ranked teams.  This has become an annual rivalry as the teams have met in a non-conference series every year since 1998.  The rivalry went to another level last year as the teams met three times in the Sub-Regionals with the Cardinal taking two of those games to advance on in the NCAA Tournament.  More on that to come ...

Stanford is currently hitting .337 as a team which would match their school-record for batting average which was set back in 1981.  The hitting has been there all season, but it's the pitching and defense that are now starting to round into shape.  Ever since John Hudgins joined the starting pitching rotation four weeks ago, the rotation along with the bullpen have really clicked.  The Jeremy Guthrie-Tim Cunningham-John Hudgins trio in the starting rotation have combined to go 14-1 this season while Guthrie has won 11 consecutive decisions dating back to last season.  It's been closer by committee this season, and that continued last weekend in Los Angeles as three different relievers turned in solid outings.  Dan Rich (3 IP, 0 R, 3 K) came on in the first game to record the save.  Ryan McCally (3 1/3 IP, 0 R, 5 K) picked up the win in the second contest coming out of the bullpen.  While it was Drew Ehrlich (2 1/3 IP, 0 R, 3 K) closing out the game on Sunday to get the save.  So even though this team doesn't have a set closer like in year's past, the bullpen has been very effective and is turning into one of the main strengths of this team.  After struggling at times early in the season, the Cardinal defense has also begun to pick it up lately.  After leading the nation in fielding percentage last year (.977), Stanford committed 27 errors in their first 18 games.  But in their last four contests, the Stanford defense has only two errors and they're beginning to make the spectacular plays that we saw numerous times throughout last season.  If the pitching and defense keep on improving, while the hitting continues to shine, it could be a very special year on the Farm in 2002.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.356, 6 HR, 23 RBI)
    * Struggling with the passed balls with 10 already this season.

1B - Donny Lucy (.297, 3 HR, 24 RBI)
    * Co-leads the team with six stolen bases ... has walked only once all season (74 at-bats).

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.341, 2 HR, 16 RBI)
    * Had a big series at USC going 7-for-14 with a home run and four RBI.

3B - Arik VanZandt (.386, 1 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Has hit safely in seven of eight games since replacing Topham at third.

SS - Scott Dragicevich (.333, 0 HR, 11 RBI)
    * Has started 90 consecutive games at shortstop since the beginning of the 2001 season.

LF - Jason Cooper (.449, 5 HR, 27 RBI)
    * Currently has a 14-game hitting streak ... played first games in the field last weekend at USC.

CF - Sam Fuld (.340, 1 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Surprisingly, still looking for his first stolen base of 2002.

RF - Carlos Quentin (.351, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
    * Hit by the pitch for a team-leading 11th time last Sunday against USC.

DH - Chris Carter (.250, 1 HR, 6 RBI) or Andy Topham (.288, 2 HR, 11 RBI)
    * Topham starting to work himself back into the lineup after a hamstring injury.

Starting Pitching Rotation :
Thursday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 6-0, 3.26 ERA, 47 IP, 13 BB, 48 SO)
    * Gave up only two earned runs in seven innings in his only start against Texas last season (2-16-01).

Friday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 4-1, 3.43 ERA, 44 2/3 IP, 16 BB, 24 SO)
    * 8th all-time at Stanford in career winning percentage (15-3, .833)

Saturday - John Hudgins (RHP; 4-0, 4.11 ERA, 30 2/3 IP, 16 BB, 24 SO)
    * 3-0 with a 4.00 ERA in his three starts this season.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Ryan McCally (1-0, 3.77 ERA, 3 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-1, 4.50 ERA, 2 SV), Dan Rich (0-0, 1.93 ERA, 1 SV), J.D. Willcox (1-0, 5.40 ERA).

-- Texas Longhorns --

The 16th ranked Texas Longhorns return to Sunken Diamond this weekend and they're coming into the series on a hot streak.  They've won eight consecutive games and are a coming off a dominating sweep of lowly UT-Pan American last weekend.  In that series, the Longhorns outscored UTPA 39-0 including a 20-0 rout in the series finale.  In fact, Texas has not allowed a run in four straight games going back to their mid-week contest last week against McNeese State.  At closer look though, the Longhorns 24-6 record isn't as impressive.  They've dominated at home against inferior opponents going 18-1, but are just 6-5 in games played away from Austin.  They've dropped their two biggest series' of the year so far this season, losing 2-of-3 to #10 Baylor in a home-and-home series and also losing 2-of-3 games at Texas Tech.  This is a big series for Texas as they want to prove they belong among the nation's elite in 2002.

In the past, Texas has been the ultimate small ball team.  Last year in the Regionals, every time the leadoff runner reached base it was automatic that the runner was going to be sacrificed over.  The Longhorns will still bunt more often than a lot of teams, but they've added the power threat to the lineup this season.  The primary power hitters are first baseman Jeff Ontiveros (7 homers) and DH J.D. Reininger (5 homers) as Texas has hit 24 homers in their first 30 games this season after hitting only 29 bombs all of last year.  The top hitter in this lineup though is leadoff hitter Tim Moss who is hitting .410 and has complied a mind-boggling 21 stolen bases already this year.  But as usual in Austin, the strength of this team is their pitching, especially the starting rotation.  The trio of starting pitchers in Brad Halsey, Justin Simmons, and Ray Clark are a combined 14-2 with a 2.30 ERA.  The bullpen has also been very effective as four primary relievers boast ERA's below 2.00.  The Longhorns haven't faced a lineup quite like the Cardinal yet this season, so the matchup between Stanford's offense and Texas's pitching should be very interesting to watch this weekend.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Hubele (.343, 2 HR, 31 RBI) or Curtis Thigpen (.292, 0 HR, 7 RBI)
    * Hubele has thrown out only 14% of attempted base stealers this season ... if Thigpen starts behind the plate, Hubele will move to the outfield.

1B - Jeff Ontiveros (.326, 7 HR, 18 RBI)
    * Top power hitter is slugging .652 this season.

2B - Tim Moss (.410, 1 HR, 22 RBI)
    * Catalyst at the top of the lineup, is 21-for-23 in stolen bases this season.

3B - Omar Quintanilla (.350, 0 HR, 14 RBI)
    * Missed first 21 games for violating NCAA rules ... had 14 RBI in only nine games this season.

SS - Michael Holliman (.273, 3 HR, 20 RBI)
    * Lowest average among regular starters ... one of only two players to start every game this year (Moss).

LF - Brandon Fahey (.500, 0 HR, 6 RBI)
    * Has started only seven games this season ... emerging as the everyday starter in left.

CF - Kalani Napoleon (.292, 0 HR, 15 RBI)
    * Will hit toward the bottom of the order, leads team with six sac bunts.

RF - Joe Ferin (.293, 0 HR, 8 RBI) or Ryan Hubele (.343, 2 HR, 31 RBI)
    * Hubele leads the team in RBI.

DH - Dustin Majewski (.383, 2 HR, 18 RBI) or J.D. Reininger (.344, 5 HR, 20 RBI)
    * Reiniger is second on the team in homers, but also leads the club with 25 strikeouts.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Thursday - Brad Halsey (LHP; 4-0, 1.99 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 11 BB, 41 SO)
    * Was named NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week two weeks ago after his complete game shutout versus Missouri on March 15th.

Friday - Justin Simmons (LHP; 7-0, 2.01 ERA, 49 1/3 IP, 9 BB, 32 SO)
    * Opponents are hitting only .208 against him ... has won all seven of his starts this year.

Saturday - Ray Clark (RHP; 3-2, 2.98 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 10 BB, 34 SO)
    * Started deciding game of Sub-Regionals last year tossing 7 1/3 innings and giving up only two runs.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Huston Street (1-1, 1.98 ERA, 2 SV), Jesen Merle (2-1, 1.65 ERA), Tim McGough (1-0, 3.71 ERA, 1 SV), Eugene Espineli (2-0, 1.16 ERA).

2001 Stanford-Texas Sub-Regional Recap
Last season the Cardinal and Longhorns hooked up in three one-run games in last year's Sub-Regional at Sunken Diamond.  Here is a brief recap of the games ...

* Texas 4, Stanford 3 (May 26) - The Longhorns defeated the Cardinal to advance to the championship game on Sunday forcing Stanford to play another game (vs. Marist) that same evening.  Texas scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to go ahead 4-1 and they held on for the victory.  Mike Gosling took the loss for Stanford while Texas starter Albert Montes picked up the win.  Jonny Ash had all three RBI for the Cardinal.

* Stanford 10, Texas 9 (May 27, 1st championship game) - Stanford wins the first game on Sunday as Carlos Quentin's single brings home Chris O'Riordan in the bottom of the tenth inning for the game-winning hit.  Texas was down 9-6 heading into the ninth, but Ben King hit a three-run homer off Mike Wodnicki to send the game into extras.  Andy Topham hit two homers while J.D. Willcox picked up the win coming out of the bullpen.

* Stanford 4, Texas 3 (May 27, 2nd championship game) - The Cardinal have to battle back to win the second championship game on Sunday to advance to the Super-Regionals.  Texas took a 3-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning, but Stanford scored three in that inning to take the lead for good.  Ryan Garko had the big hit, a two-run single, to give the Cardinal the lead.  John Hudgins made the start and pitched beautifully into the sixth inning.  Wodnicki picked up the win while Willcox recorded the save.

JJ's Super Sixteen
Team (Record, previous ranking)
** Records are as of Monday 3-25 **

1. Stanford (17-5, 1)
    * Cardinal return from two-week break to sweep the USC Trojans in Los Angeles.

2. Clemson (18-1, 2)
    * Tigers go 4-0 last week with mid-week win over UNC-Asheville and a three-game sweep of Maine.

3. Rice (23-4, 4)
    * Red-hot Owls with impressive 5-0 week (2-0 vs. nationally ranked Houston and 3-0 vs. Nevada).

4. Florida State (26-8, 3)
    * Seminoles go just 2-3 last week as they take two from The Citadel during the week, but get swept at North Carolina over the weekend.

5. Wake Forest (19-4, 5)
    * Demon Deacons with a 3-2 week as they spilt two mid-week games with Georgia then take 2-of-3 at N.C. State.

6. Houston (18-7, 6)
    * Cougars show they are a step below Rice (0-2 vs. the Owls last week), but rebound to sweep Tulane.

7. South Carolina (21-4, 10)
    * Gamecocks move up in poll after taking 2-of-3 from Florida.

8. Baylor (19-8, 7)
    * Bears with an even 2-2 week as they beat McNeese State in a single game, but drop 2-of-3 at Missouri.

9. Nebraska (14-7, 8)
    * Cornhuskers go 3-2 last week as they spilt a pair of games with Minnesota and then take 2-of-3 vs. Texas Tech.

10. Texas (24-6, 12)
    * Longhorns with an impressive 4-0 week as they outscore their opponents (McNeese State and UT-Pan American) 53-0.

11. Florida (21-5, 9)
    * Gators move down two spots after dropping 2-of-3 at South Carolina.

12. Alabama (21-3, 13)
    * Crimson Tide go on the road and take 2-of-3 at Arkansas.

13. Cal State Fullerton (16-9, 14)
    * Titans with a great weekend sweeping Big West rival Long Beach State.

14. Georgia Tech (18-3, 15)
    * Yellow Jackets continue to beat-up on lesser opponents as they go 4-0 last week (2-0 vs. Eastern Kentucky, 2-0 vs. Gardner-Webb).

15. San Diego (24-6, NA)
    * Toreros make first appearance in the poll after a 3-1 week including series win at Portland.

16. Wichita State (13-5, 11)
    * Shockers go 3-3 last week as they drop two in a row to Long Beach State before going 3-1 vs. Evansville over the weekend.

Dropped Out : Tulane (13-12, 0-4 last week)

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