Oregon State Preview

The Stanford baseball squad heads back out on the road this weekend as they travel up to Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers. The Cardinal are coming off a series loss to Washington last weekend and find themselves in a tie for third place in the conference. Not only is it a critical series for Stanford, but the Beavers, who sit on the NCAA Tourney bubble, badly need a series win. Here is a preview.

Stanford (28-10, 5-4) at Oregon State (25-14, 4-5)

Friday - 6:00pm
Saturday - 4:00pm
Sunday - 1:00pm

For the second consecutive week, the Stanford Cardinal baseball team travels to the Pacific Northwest as they do battle with the Oregon State Beavers.  The Cardinal dropped their first series of the season last weekend when the took only one of three games from the Washington Huskies.  Washington ace pitcher Shawn Kohn threw a complete-game, six-hitter to lead the Huskies to a 3-1 victory in the first game.  On Saturday, Stanford exploded in the later innings to win 9-4, but the Huskies rebounded on Sunday with a 4-3, ten inning victory to claim the series victory.  Earlier this week, the Cardinal had to come-from-behind to defeat the Sacramento State Hornets 6-5 in a single non-conference game.

It's a big weekend for the Cardinal as they play their third Pac-10 road series in the last four weeks.  Stanford enters the weekend in a three-way tie for third place in the conference with Washington and California, 2 1/2 games behind the USC Trojans.  You would figure Stanford has the advantage down the stretch with three of their final four series taking place and the friendly confines of Sunken Diamond, but another series loss this weekend and it may not matter.  The Cardinal have been the ultimate comeback team this season as Stanford has had to come back to win 14 of their 28 games this season, including five of their last six wins.  Stanford has also been the "big inning" team this year.  18 times this season have the Cardinal scored five or more runs in an inning.  Nine of those 18 innings has seen Stanford score seven or more runs in an inning.  These two factors prove that this team is never really out of a game this season.

Stanford is currently hitting .326 as a team and are averaging 8.4 runs per game.  After hitting 11 homers in the three-game series versus USC two weeks ago, the Card have hit just two bombs in their last four games.  Stanford's team ERA sits at 4.01 while the starting rotation trio of Jeremy Guthrie, Tim Cunningham, and John Hudgins are a combined 17-2 on the mound although those starters have only recorded one decision in their last six starts.  The Cardinal's fielding percentage continues to climb as it's currently at a season-high .971.  In their first 19 games of the year, Stanford had committed 27 errors for a .964 percentage, but over their last 19 contests, the team has committed just 18 miscues in the field for a .977 fielding percentage which is what they finished at last year when they set a school-record and led the nation.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.306, 7 HR, 30 RBI)
    * Hitting just .228 (13-for-57) with one home run in his last 16 games.

1B - Brian Hall (.269, 3 HR, 23 RBI)
    * Has started the last six games at first base ... 7 total starts at first this season.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.358, 6 HR, 33 RBI)
    * Hitting .418 (23-for-55) on current 12-game hitting streak.

3B - Arik VanZandt (.330, 3 HR, 16 RBI)
    * Has made just three errors in 24 starts (36 games total) this season splitting time between first and third base.

SS - Andy Topham (.328, 4 HR, 23 RBI)
    * Has committed just one error in his last 24 games ... none since moving to shortstop seven games ago.

LF - Danny Putnam (.250, 1 HR, 9 RBI)
    * Seven of his 13 hits this year have gone for extra-bases (4 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run).

CF - Sam Fuld (.349, 2 HR, 23 RBI)
    * Leads the team in hits (60) and doubles (12).

RF - Carlos Quentin (.340, 8 HR, 37 RBI)
    * Hit the go-ahead home run on Wednesday night versus Sacramento State.

DH - Jason Cooper (.382, 10 HR, 39 RBI)
    * Could move out to left field with Chris Carter starting at DH.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 6-0, 2.84 ERA, 79 1/3 IP, 19 BB, 73 SO)
    * Gave up just two hits and no runs in six innings in his last start.

Saturday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 5-2, 4.24 ERA, 63 2/3 IP, 27 BB, 36 SO)
    * Has not gotten past the third inning in either of his past two starts.

Sunday - John Hudgins (RHP; 6-0, 4.63 ERA, 58 1/3 IP, 25 BB, 41 SO)
    * Has given up a team-high nine home runs in 58 1/3 innings pitched this season.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Ryan McCally (3-2, 3.09 ERA, 5 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-2, 4.83 ERA, 2 SV), Darin Naatjes (3-0, 2.77 ERA, 2 SV), Dan Rich (1-0, 1.12 ERA, 1 SV).

-- Oregon State Beavers --

Expected to finish in the bottom third of the conference, this season has been a pleasant surprise to the Beaver faithful.  OSU returned the majority of their hitters from last year's squad, but lost their two top starting pitcher in Thad Johnson and Scott Nicholson who were the backbone of the team.  But despite losing those two key players, the Beavers have played well in 2002 as they enter this weekend at 25-15 and 4-5 in the Pac-10 play.  They were an even 3-3 in conference action heading into their home series with UCLA last weekend and it was a series the Beavers really needed as they look to qualify for postseason play.  But the Bruins spoiled the party taking 2-of-3 games and sending the Beavers a game under .500.  So that takes us up to this weekend, and it's must-win series for Oregon State.  The Beavers have a difficult road ahead in conference play with three of their final four series after this weekend being on the road and they don't want to head into that stretch with a sub-.500 record.

This Oregon State team doesn't do one thing particularly well, but they still find a way to win.  They are a middle of the pack team in the three major statistical categories (hitting, pitching, and fielding) as they enter the weekend with a .307 team average, a 5.21 team ERA, and a .962 fielding percentage.  Their top player is certainly third baseman Brian Barden.  Barden, a junior, has been named to the All-Pac-10 team in his first two years in Corvallis.  He's currently hitting .355 this season and leads the team with eight home runs and 39 RBI.  Other players to watch this weekend include first baseman Andy Jarvis (.328-7-30) and rightfielder Chris Biles (.303-5-23).  On the pitching side of things, the Beavers will start three players with very average numbers.  Ben Rowe and Stephen Copeland both have ERA's approaching six, but still have winning records.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Paul Richie (.223, 0 HR, 17 RBI) or Wick Udy (.368, 1 HR, 16 RBI)
    * Udy has 25 hits in just 68 at-bats this season.

1B - Andy Jarvis (.328-7-30)
    * Has not committed an error in 343 chances.

2B - Tom Creighton (.327, 3 HR, 28 RBI)
    * Transfer from Fresno State.

3B - Brian Barden (.355, 8 HR, 39 RBI)
    * Career .366 hitter in 2 1/2 years at OSU.

SS - Will Hudson (.320, 1 HR, 19 RBI)
    * Leads the team in walks (22) and strikeouts (30).

LF - Seth Pletsch (.314, 3 HR, 19 RBI)
    * Leads the team in doubles (15) and triples (6).

CF - Aaron Mathews (.352, 0 HR, 15 RBI)
    * True-freshman ... has a 12-game hitting streak.

RF - Chris Biles (.303, 5 HR, 23 RBI)
    * Hit .395 last year with nine home runs.

DH - J.R. Runyon (.273, 2 HR, 6 RBI) or Levi Webber (.320, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
    * Players splitting time here ... neither with more than 35 at-bats.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Ben Rowe (RHP; 5-3, 5.86 ERA, 58 1/3 IP, 30 BB, 30 SO)
    * Knocked out of the game in the second inning (4 ER) last week versus UCLA.

Saturday - Stephen Copeland (RHP; 4-2, 5.78 ERA, 62 1/3 IP, 20 BB, 30 SO)
    * Career 6.38 ERA in 168 innings pitched.

Sunday - Mark McLemore (LHP; 2-2, 4.35 ERA, 39 1/3 IP, 17 BB, 35 SO)
    * Opponents are hitting only .233 against him.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Jared Sanders (1-3, 3.43 ERA, 8 SV), Mike Ekstrom (1-0, 3.89 ERA, 2 SV), Ty Kline (4-0, 1.93 ERA, 1 SV), Jake Postlewait (1-2, 5.22 ERA, 1 SV).

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