Super Regional Preview

It's Super Regional weekend around the country and here at Sunken Diamond the Stanford Cardinal and the USC Trojans will meet with a trip to the College World Series at stake. The Cardinal and Trojans each swept through their respective regionals last weekend to advance but only one will be left standing after this best-of-three game set. Here is a super-sized preview of the series.

USC (37-22) at Stanford (43-16)

Game One - Friday, 7pm
Game Two - Saturday, 1pm
Game Three (if necessary) - Sunday, 1pm

Just two more wins to reach the College World Series.  The Stanford Cardinal baseball squad swept through their own regional last weekend to move on to this weekend's super regional against the USC Trojans.  The Cardinal played in a classic in their postseason opener last Friday outlasting Cal State Fullerton 3-2 in 13 innings.  Junior pitcher Jeremy Guthrie threw all 13 frames to record the win while Scott Dragicevich's RBI single in the bottom of the 13th was the game-winning hit.  On Saturday, Stanford jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings versus Long Beach and then held on for a 5-4 victory.  Tim Cunningham carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning while Dan Rich nailed down the save.  The Cardinal and 49ers met again in the championship game on Sunday and once more Stanford prevailed with an 8-4 victory.  The Card broke a 2-2 tie with a five-run bottom of the fifth inning keyed by an RBI double off the bat of Ryan Garko and a two-run home run by Jason Cooper.  On the mound, Stanford got another outstanding pitching performance as John Hudgins went the distance to improve to 9-1 on the season.

The Cardinal, who are the #8 national seed, have been carried this postseason by their starting pitching, some outstanding defense, and timely hitting.  The trio of starting pitchers in Jeremy Guthrie, Tim Cunningham, and John Hudgins are a combined 29-4 with a 3.53 ERA.  Guthrie anchors the rotation with a sparkling 11-1 record to go along with a 2.34 ERA.  The Golden Spikes finalist has been even better as of late with a 1.48 ERA in his last seven starts (five of which he has completed) and has only given up one earned run in his last 31 innings pitched.  Tim Cunningham (9-2, 3.86) is expected to start the Saturday game and the junior lefthander has also turned it up a notch in the past few weeks with four wins in his last four starts (2.48 ERA).  If a third game is needed, John Hudgins (9-1, 4.80) would get the call on the mound.  The sophomore righthander joined the starting rotation in early March and has not let go of that spot.  Bullpen depth is a concern for Head Coach Mark Marquess as the Cardinal relievers have all been very inconsistent this season.  Senior lefthander Dan Rich appears to have taken control of the closer's role after his performance on Saturday versus Long Beach with 2 2/3 innings of quality relief to record the save.  Rich was the only reliever that saw any action last weekend due to the effectiveness of the Cardinal starters.

Stanford's team batting average currently sits at .322 while they've clubbed 82 homers in 59 games this season.  Center fielder Sam Fuld leads the offensive attack with a .385 batting average (tops in the Pac-10) while four Cardinal players have reached double figures in home runs (Garko - 14, Cooper - 13, Quentin - 10, O'Riordan - 10).  Cooper and Garko are tied for the team lead in RBI with 52 apiece while Cooper paces the club with a .629 slugging percentage.  Probably the hottest hitter in the lineup right now though is third baseman Scott Dragicevich.  The senior has a seven-game hitting streak that has vaulted him up to second on the team in batting average (.354).  Another strong facet of this team also has to be their infield defense.  Four seniors (VanZandt, O'Riordan, Topham, and Dragicevich) start on the infield for the Cardinal and each has turned in spectacular play after spectacular play throughout this season.  Topham especially at shortstop is making plays that you only see major league shortstops make.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Ryan Garko (.307, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 2 SB)
    * Broke out of a mini-slump with a 2-for-4 (2 doubles) performance on Sunday vs. LBSU ... leads the team in walks with 37 ... has thrown out 36% of attempted base stealers.

1B - Arik VanZandt (.327, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB)
    * Has seen his average increase 65 points from last season's .262 output ... a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen bases this season ... will hit ninth in the order.

2B - Chris O'Riordan (.335, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 5 SB)
    * Had a big sub-regional last weekend going 5-for-12 with two home runs ... has started 170 consecutive games at second base ... tied for sixth all-time at Stanford in batting average (.353).

3B - Scott Dragicevich (.354, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 3 SB)
    * Hitting .375 during current seven-game hitting streak ... even better numbers since returning to the starting lineup in late April (.417 batting average over span of 21 games).

SS - Andy Topham (.303, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 9 SB)
    * Hitting just .231 (15-for-65) in his last 17 contests ... outstanding defensively ... has walked only six times in 198 at-bats this season.

LF - Jason Cooper (.351, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB)
    * Homered at home on Sunday for the first time since April 14th versus USC ... third on the team in hitting, second in homers, tied for first in RBI ... hits fourth in the lineup.

CF - Sam Fuld (.385, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB)
    * Team leader in batting average ... hit .519 (54-for-104) in his last 24 regular season games but struggled somewhat during last weekend's regional with only three hits in 15 at-bats (.200) ... first all-time at Stanford in batting average (.372).

RF - Carlos Quentin (.315, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 11 SB)
    * Hitting a modest .267 (20-for-75) with just two homers in the last 21 games ... second on the team with 11 stolen bases and is first with 14 attempts ... All-Pac-10 player for the second consecutive year.

DH - Chris Carter (.267, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB)
    * Only freshman in the starting lineup ... hits leadoff against right handed starters while against left handed starters will probably be taken out of the lineup in favor of Brian Hall (.269-3-34) ... only starter hitting below .300, but is fifth on the team with a .411 on-base percentage.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Jeremy Guthrie (RHP; 11-1, 2.34 ERA, 134 1/3 IP, 30 BB, 119 SO)
    * Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year ... threw 13 innings versus Cal State Fullerton last weekend yielding only one earned run on nine hits ... one earned run allowed in his last 31 innings pitched ... has thrown five complete games in his last six starts.

Saturday - Tim Cunningham (LHP; 9-2, 3.86 ERA, 102 2/3 IP, 39 BB, 62 SO)
    * Has carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his last two starts ... 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in last four starts after going 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in his previous four starts ... has a career record of 20-4 ... gave up nine runs in one-plus innings of work versus USC back on April 13th.

Sunday - John Hudgins (RHP; 9-1, 4.80 ERA, 99 1/3 IP, 34 BB, 62 SO)
    * Scattered 11 hits and four runs in complete game effort on Sunday versus Long Beach State on Sunday ... has given up zero unearned runs in 99 1/3 innings pitched ... 2-0 against USC this season.

Note : The official Stanford website has TBA listed for both Saturday and Sunday.  This was just last week's starting rotation.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Dan Rich (2-2, 2.90 ERA, 3 SV), Ryan McCally (4-3, 4.07 ERA, 7 SV), Darin Naatjes (4-0, 2.53 ERA, 2 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-2, 5.45 ERA, 2 SV).

USC Trojans

A familiar opponent makes it's way to Sunken Diamond as the USC Trojans make their second trip to the Bay Area this season.  The Trojans swept their own regional last weekend, but it wasn't easy.  On Friday night, USC had to rally in the bottom of ninth inning to tie their game with BYU and then Brian Barre won it with a solo home run to leadoff the bottom of the 12th.  On Saturday, the Trojans jumped all over Cal State Northridge ace pitcher Bill Murphy early en route to a 7-5 victory to put them in the driver's seat.  Then on Monday in the championship game, the Trojans outlasted BYU 13-10 after almost blowing a 9-0 lead.

The Trojans finished one game ahead of the Cardinal in the Pac-10 standings to claim their second consecutive conference title.  Like Stanford, USC is playing well right now with six consecutive victories after sweeping through the regionals last weekend.  The strength of this team is no doubt their hitting.  USC and Stanford were easily the top two hitting teams in the conference this season as they each boast .322 batting averages.  The Trojans have hit slightly fewer home runs then the Card, but draw more walks as evident by their higher team on-base percentage.  Individually, their top hitters include catcher Alberto Concepcion (.376-11-48), first baseman Bill Peavey (.360-15-71), center fielder Brian Barre (.333-12-42), and designated hitter Joey Metropoulos (.366-13-65).  The Concepcion-Peavey-Metropoulos middle of the order is right up there with Stanford's Garko-Cooper-O'Riordan in terms of the most dangerous middle of the order's in the country.  Barre and #2 hitter Michael Moon also both do a good job of setting the table.  So while Friday's game should be fairly low-scoring with two fine pitchers on the hill, we could see some offensive fireworks in the latter two games of the weekend.

While USC has a very strong hitting club, pitching and defense has been a problem for them at times this season.  Their team ERA currently sits at 5.75 which puts them in the bottom third in the conference in pitching while their overall team fielding percentage is a less-then spectacular .961.  Nothing wrong with Friday night starter Anthony Reyes as the junior righthander has a 4-1 record to go along with a 3.26 ERA after missing the first six weeks of the season with an injury.  Reyes will be making his seventh career start versus Stanford this weekend.  On Saturday, the Trojans are expected to throw lefty Cory Campos.  Campos was the closer for the Trojans over the final half of the season, but moved to the rotation last weekend after the other USC starters were starting to struggle.  USC hasn't announced a starter for Sunday's game, but the likely candidates are all guys the Stanford hitters have seen this year.

Probable Starting Lineup :
C - Alberto Concepcion (.376, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 3 SB)
    * 2002 Pac-10 Player of the Year ... leads team in hitting, doubles, triples, and on-base percentage ... has thrown out 33% of attempted base-stealers.

1B - Bill Peavey (.360, 15 HR, 71 RBI, 5 SB)
    * Leads the Pac-10 in RBI ... #4 hitter ... has improved drastically this season after hitting only seven homers in 2001.

2B - Anthony Lunetta (.275, 1 HR, 23 RBI, 6 SB)
    * Having a tough year by his standards ... was the 2000 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, but has seen his numbers gradually decline over the past two seasons ... heating up lately though with a .367 average in his last seven games.

3B - Jon Brewster (.286, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 4 SB)
    * Part of the revolving door at third base this season for USC ... has made 30 starts this season ... dismal .889 fielding percentage.

SS - Michael Moon (.338, 7 HR, 58 RBI, 12 SB)
    * Hits second in the lineup ... enjoying a big second half of the season ... second on the team in hits and stolen bases, third in RBI.

LF - Michael Morales (.323, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 11 SB)
    * Seeing much more time in left field after not starting much in the beginning of the year ... 11 stolen bases in only 23 starts this season.

CF - Brian Barre (.333, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 14 SB)
    * Leadoff hitter ... tops on the club with 47 walks and 14 stolen bases ... power-hitting leadoff hitter who is third on the team in homers.

RF - Travis McAndrews (.323, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 1 SB) or David Gordon (.333, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 5 SB)
    * McAndrews to likely start versus the right handers, Gordon against the lefties ... McAndrews hit a grand slam on Monday versus BYU ... Gordon went 4-for-5 with 4 RBI vs. Stanford on April 13th (a Cunningham start).

DH - Joey Metropoulos (.366, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 2 SB)
    * Should be named a Freshman All-American ... second on the team in hitting, home runs, and RBI ... hits fifth in the lineup.

Probable Starting Pitching Rotation :
Friday - Anthony Reyes (RHP; 4-1, 3.26 ERA, 58 IP, 16 BB, 47 SO)
    * First appearance of the year didn't come until March 17th because of an elbow injury ... All-Pac-10 player ... April 12th start at Stanford - 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO.

Saturday - Cory Campos (LHP; 6-2, 4.09 ERA, 61 2/3 IP, 17 BB, 64 SO)
    * Made his first start of the season last Saturday after 27 appearances out of the bullpen ... recorded a win and a save during the regionals last week (the save came on Monday vs. BYU) ... leads the team with six saves.

Sunday - TBA
    * Will probably either see the lefty Jordan Olson (3-2, 6.48 ERA) or the righty Brett Bannister (8-3, 3.70 ERA) ... Olson started last Monday in the regional championship game.

Primary Relief Pitchers :
* Jon Williams (5-2, 5.84 ERA, 3 SV), Brett Bannister (8-3, 3.70 ERA), Jordan Olson (3-2, 6.48 ERA), Bret Butler (2-1, 8.07 ERA)

2002 Regular Season : Stanford vs. USC

The Trojans and the Cardinal met six times this season with Stanford taking five of those games.  Here are some brief recaps of all six contests ...

Stanford 9, at USC 6 (March 23rd - Game 1) : Trojans jump out to 5-0 lead off Guthrie (only two runs earned) after two innings ... Card score three in the third and five in the sixth to take an 8-5 lead and then hold on for the win ... Garko with a big two-run double and Arik VanZandt clubs a homer ... Guthrie gets the win with six innings of work (three earned runs) while Dan Rich records the save.

Stanford 12, at USC 10 (March 23rd - Game 2) : Wild affair in the nightcap ... Stanford led 7-0 after 3 1/2 innings but the Trojans battled back to tie it at 10-10 after nine innings ... Ryan McCally gets out of bases loaded jam in the ninth to send it to extras ... Scott Dragicevich's RBI single in the 11th brakes the tie while the Card would add an insurance run later in the inning ... Reyes started for USC and went three innings (two earned runs) as he was on a strict pitch count ... Cunningham gave up four earned runs in six innings for Stanford.

Stanford 5, at USC 4 (March 24th) : Stanford uses the long ball to complete the sweep ... O'Riordan, Garko, and Cooper each homer while John Hudgins tosses 6 2/3 innings (four runs) to pick-up the win ... Drew Ehrlich went the final 2 1/3 innings to record the save ... The Card touched up SC starter Brett Bannister for four runs in four innings of work.

at Stanford 6, USC 5 (April 12th) : Highly entertaining game as the Card score single runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings to force extra frames ... Trojans get one in the top of the tenth off Ryan McCally, but Stanford responds with two of their own off Jon Williams in the bottom of the tenth to get the win ... O'Riordan, Carter, and Danny Putnam each hit homers for Stanford while Guthrie went the first nine innings on the mound (three earned runs, 8 K's).

USC 16, at Stanford 11 (April 13th) : Trojans jump all over Tim Cunningham for nine runs in the first two innings and then hold on for the win ... Carlos Quentin's three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth cut the lead to 10-7, but Stanford could not get any closer ... Cooper clubs two homers while Hall and VanZandt also hit home runs ... Joey Metropoulos (3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI) and David Gordon (4-for-5) lead the offense for USC ... Matt Chico gives up seven runs in five innings but still gets the win.

at Stanford 15, USC 4 (April 14th) : Big home run weekend for Stanford continues as Cooper, VanZandt, and Hall each hit one in this game to bring the weekend total to 11 for the Cardinal ... VanZandt records three hits while Hall had four RBI ... Hudgins gets the win with seven innings of work (four runs allowed) ... Cardinal broke 2-2 tie with four in the bottom of the fifth and then rolled from there.

Stanford and USC By-The-Numbers :

                                   Stan.     USC

Overall Record                     43-16    37-22

Batting Average                    .322     .322
Opponents Batting Average          .259     .299

Runs Scored Per Game                8.1      8.2
Opponents Runs Scored Per Game      4.7      6.9

Doubles                             137      127
Triples                              21       13
Home Runs                            82       70
Slugging Percentage                .518     .495
On-Base Percentage                 .390     .408
Stolen Bases-Attempts              73-93    67-96

Earned Run Average                  4.01     5.75
Walks Per 9 Innings                 3.3      4.6
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings            7.0      7.6
Home Runs Allowed                    44       56

Errors                               68       91
Fielding Percentage                .971     .961

Random Facts and Figures :

* Stanford was the preseason #1 team in the country while the Trojans were rated #4.  Stanford is currently ranked seventh while USC is #14.

* The Cardinal are a perfect 9-0 in Jeremy Guthrie's home starts this season (15-2 total) while they are 17-1 in his home starts the past two years (only loss was a 6-4 defeat to UCLA in April of 2001).

* Stanford has been quite dominant at Sunken Diamond this season with a 27-4 record.  They haven't lost a home regular season series since 1999 (to USC) and haven't been eliminated in the postseason at home since 1998.

* These teams met in the super regionals back in 1999 with the Cardinal winning 2 games to 0.  Jason Young out dueled Barry Zito 1-0 in the first game while Justin Wayne recorded the victory in a 5-3 win in Game Two.

* If the season ended today, the Card's .322 team batting average would be good for third on the school all-time list.  The 82 home runs are currently tied for fifth.

*Individually, Sam Fuld's .385 batting average would be the tenth highest in school history while his 102 hits are currently the fifth most (108 is the record).  Jeremy Guthrie also just needs two strikeouts to move into the top ten on the single season list.

* USC's 12 National Championships are the most in college baseball history.  They last won one in 1998 defeating Arizona State 21-14 in the championship game.

* The Trojans had to open this season on a 22-game road trip as their home ballpark, Dedeaux Field, was being renovated.  They went 12-10 during that stretch then came home and were swept by the Cardinal to fall below .500.  Since that sweep, USC has gone 25-9.

* Stanford had seven players drafted this week.  Jeremy Guthrie was taken in first round with the 22nd overall pick by the Cleveland Indians.  Other players drafted include Jason Cooper (3rd round), Chris O'Riordan (8), Andy Topham (9), Darin Naatjes (14), Tim Cunningham (23), and Scott Dragicevich (36).

Super Regional Matchups

-- All games are Friday through Sunday (start times)--

Notre Dame at #1 Florida State (4, 4, 10:30)
USC at #8 Stanford (7, 1, 1)
LSU at #4 Rice (5, 12, 11)
Houston at #5 Texas (5, 5, 11)

Florida Atlantic at Georgia Tech (4, 4, 10)
Miami at #6 South Carolina (4, 4, 10:30)
Arkansas at #2 Clemson (4:15, 4:15, 11)
Richmond at Nebraska (11, 11, 11)

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