Washington State Preview

The 2002 regular season comes to a close this weekend as the Stanford Cardinal host the Washington State Cougars in a huge three-game series at Sunken Diamond. The Cardinal enter the weekend one game behind USC in the race for the Pac-10 title while the last place Cougars are looking to play the role of the spoiler. Here is a preview of the series.

Washington State (21-30, 6-15) at Stanford (37-16, 13-8)

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

The Stanford Cardinal complete the 2002 regular season this weekend when they host the Washington State Cougars in a three-game series at Sunken Diamond.  The 8th ranked Cardinal took 2-of-3 games down in Los Angeles last weekend over the UCLA Bruins to stay in the race for the Pac-10 title.  In the opener, Jeremy Guthrie went the distance giving up just six hits in an 11-0 rout.  The junior righthander did not walk anyone while recording 13 strikeouts and for his efforts was named Pac-10 and National Pitcher of the Week.  In the middle contest, the Bruins scored seven runs in the final three innings to win 9-4 as the Cardinal bullpen continued to struggle.  Relievers Dan Rich and Ryan McCally were touched up for a combined six runs over the final 2 1/3 innings as the Bruins evened the series.  In the finale though, Stanford used the longball to trounce UCLA 17-4.  The Cardinal hit a season-high tying five homers in the game led by a pair of bombs by Chris Carter while Tim Cunningham picked up the win on the mound with seven quality innings.

Four teams are still mathematically in the race for the 2002 Pac-10 championship with three games remaining.  Both Washington and Stanford gained a game on front running USC but still trail the Trojans by one game in the standings.  Arizona State also stayed in the race with a series win over USC, but needs a lot of help to win the title.  Here is a look at the top of the standings ...

USC             14-7   -
Stanford        13-8  1.0
Washington      13-8  1.0
Arizona State   12-9  2.0

Washington State (6-15) at Stanford
USC at UCLA (9-12)
Arizona (8-13) at Washington
Oregon State (10-11) at Arizona State

Stanford played four games all on the road last weekend and although they only won two of the games, it was a welcome sight to see the team start hitting again on the road.  In the UCLA series, the Card complied 32 runs and 42 hits to raise their team batting average to .323.  Individually, Jason Cooper had a fantastic series going 7-for-13 with two home runs and five RBI as the junior had gone over a month since hitting a home run since last weekend.  Freshman Chris Carter was also inserted into the lineup on Sunday for the first time since May 1st and the first time in a conference game since April 12th and responded by hitting two home runs.  Sam Fuld continues to lead the team in hitting with a .384 batting average while Ryan Garko paces the club in home runs with 13.  On the pitching side, Jeremy Guthrie was named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award earlier this week that is given annually to the top college baseball player in the country.  Guthrie's record now stands at 9-1 with a stellar 2.68 ERA.  He's posted even better numbers in conference play with four consecutive complete games and a 2.10 Pac-10 ERA.  Sunday starter Tim Cunningham has also appeared to go back to his early-season form with two good outings since moving from the Saturday to the Sunday spot in the rotation.  Over his last two starts (both wins), he's pitched 14 innings while giving up just three earned runs.  The bullpen has been a weakness of this team and it showed again in the loss on Saturday to UCLA, but Dan Rich rebounded on Sunday with a great outing tossing two perfect innings out of the 'pen.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.313, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 1 SB)
    * Was recently named one of the ten semifinalists for the Johnny Bench award given to the top catcher in the country.

1B - Arik VanZandt (.315, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 9 SB)
    * Has seen his average raise 53 points from last year's .262 mark.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.332, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 4 SB)
    * Has started 164 consecutive games at second base.

3B - Scott Dragicevich (.355, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 2 SB)
    * One of the hottest hitters in the lineup with 23 hits in his last 51 at-bats (.451) over a span of 13 games.

SS - Andy Topham (.318, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 7 SB)
    * Another player who has improved greatly since last season in terms of batting average (hit .272 last year).

LF - Jason Cooper (.361, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB)
    * Moved out to left field when Carter was inserted at DH last Sunday.

CF - Sam Fuld (.384, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 8 SB)
    * Hitting .505 (46-for-91) in his last 21 games.

RF - Carlos Quentin (.323, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 10 SB)
    * Struggled against UCLA last weekend with only two hits in 13 at-bats.

DH - Chris Carter (.246, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB)
    * Should see some playing time this weekend after impressive showing last Sunday and WSU is starting three righthanders on the mound.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 9-1, 2.68 ERA, 114 1/3 IP, 26 BB, 109 SO)
    * In last five starts has a 1.98 ERA and eight walks and 43 K's in 41 innings pitched.

Saturday - John Hudgins (RHP; 8-1, 5.02 ERA, 84 1/3 IP, 32 BB, 55 SO)
    * Has given up a team-leading 15 home runs this season.

Sunday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 7-2, 3.96 ERA, 88 2/3 IP, 36 BB, 54 SO)
    * Has won his last two starts after not winning in over a month.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Ryan McCally (4-3, 4.07 ERA, 7 SV), Dan Rich (1-2, 2.73 ERA, 2 SV), Darin Naatjes (4-0, 2.79 ERA, 2 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-2, 5.59 ERA, 2 SV).

-- Washington State Cougars --

It's been another difficult year for Washington State as once again the Cougars find themselves at the bottom of the conference.  Things actually started pretty well for WSU this season as they boasted a 9-5 record on March 3rd, but as the competition got tougher, the Cougars were not up to the challenge as they've gone just 12-25 since.  Their Pac-10 record currently sits at 6-15, two games behind Arizona as they look to avoid the Pac-10 basement for the fourth consecutive season.  Interestingly enough though, the Cougs have actually played much better away from Pullman this season.  In nine conference road games, WSU is 5-4 compared to a dismal 1-11 mark at home.  That includes a series win for Washington State last weekend as they took 2-of-3 games from the struggling Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.  WSU won both of those games with rallies in the ninth inning.

Pitching is certainly not the strength of this team as they are dead-last in the conference (and by quite a large margin) in team ERA.  WSU's team ERA sits at a lofty 7.54 while opponents are hitting .317 against the staff as a whole.  All three starting pitchers have ERA's above six while the lowest earned run average on the team is 4.71.  Add to that the Cougars have given up 94 homers in 51 games and the Cardinal (who lead the Pac-10 in hitting) could have a big weekend with the bats.  In terms of hitting, this team does put up some fairly good numbers.  Their team average is at .314 while they score 7.1 runs per game.  Not much power on this club, but they do have three players in particular with very good numbers this season.  Left fielder Justin Hart (.377-2-28), second baseman Bookie Gates (.365-2-38), and third baseman Jeff LaRue (.363-8-38) lead the offensive attack.  Runs should not be at a premium this weekend with the possible exception of Friday night on the WSU side considering how well Guthrie is pitching right now.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Jon Baeder (.291, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB)
    * Has thrown out 36% of attempted base stealers.

1B - Steve Mortimer (.306, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 5 SB)
    * JC-transfer has taken over the starting job at first base.

2B - Bookie Gates (.365, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 13 SB)
    * 7th all-time at WSU in hits.

3B - Jeff LaRue (.363, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB)
    * Leads the team in homers and is tied for second in RBI.

SS - Derek Bruce (.271, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB)
    * Has committed 19 errors in 50 games this season.

LF - Justin Hart (.377, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 5 SB)
    * Leads the club in hitting.

CF - Tyson Boston (.259, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB)
    * Has made only 11 starts all season, but getting much more playing time as of late.

RF - Collin Henderson (.311, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB)
    * Only walked six times in 164 plate appearances this season.

DH - Wes Falkenborg (.311, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB)
    * First on the team in RBI.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Eddie Bonine (RHP; 8-7, 6.11 ERA, 101 2/3 IP, 45 BB, 76 SO)
    * Tied for third in the conference in wins, but also leads the Pac-10 in losses.

Saturday - Brandon Hundt (RHP; 6-6, 6.42 ERA, 88 1/3 IP, 34 BB, 73 SO)
    * Opponents hitting .311 against him ... given up 15 homers in 88 1/3 innings pitched.

Sunday - Bryce Chamberlin (RHP; 0-1, 7.60 ERA, 34 1/3 IP, 16 BB, 16 SO)
    * Will be making only his seventh start of the season.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Garrett Alwert (2-3, 7.34 ERA, 2 SV), Billy Gorrell (0-5, 4.71 ERA, 1 SV), Nick Kenyon (1-1, 8.07 ERA), Zach Fisher (1-2, 9.61 ERA, 3 SV).

Random Facts and Figures :
* Jeremy Guthrie has a realistic shot to win the Pac-10 Pitching Triple Crown if he continues to pitch well down the stretch.  Guthrie is currently second in wins (one behind UW's Shawn Kohn), first in ERA, and first in strikeouts.  He also has the lowest opponents batting average in the conference (.233).

* Sam Fuld is currently second in the Pac-10 in hitting with a .384 batting average (USC's Alberto Concepcion leads at .385).  Fuld also has 91 hits this season.  The Stanford single-season record is 108.

* Washington State's conference record since 1999 is 22-71 (.237).

* Stanford has won 21 consecutive regular season series' at Sunken Diamond dating back to April of 1999.

* These teams met during the last weekend of the regular season last season as well.  The Cardinal swept the three-game series in Pullman outscoring the Cougars 45-10 in the process.

* Stanford's starting pitching rotation is a combined 24-4 with a 3.76 ERA.

* The Cardinal are 13-2 in series openers (all Guthrie starts), 7-8 in the middle game of the series, and 10-5 in series finales.

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