Santa Clara Preview

In the year's first series preview installment, the Cardinal take on Santa Clara and their former coach Mark O'Brien this weekend on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Stanford is looking to make their fifth consecutive trip to Omaha while up-and-coming Santa Clara is in search of their first postseason appearance in six years. Read on for details.

#3 Stanford Cardinal (47-18 in 2002) vs. Santa Clara Broncos (25-30 in 2002)

Saturday: 1:00 PM - Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium
Sunday: 1:00 PM - Sunken Diamond

Once again this year, the Bootleg will release a series preview early in the week to prep you for the weekend's upcoming baseball series. This year, it will be a tag team operation, as Joe Ritzo, the Foremost Authority on Stanford Baseball™ and I will combine to write series previews and game recaps, and Joe will continue to write his "Super Sixteen" column on Mondays.

For the 105th time, these neighboring schools will square off, this time in a season-opening "home and home" series. In June of 2001, the Broncos hired away Mark O'Brien, at the time Stanford's first base coach, to become the new head coach of the Broncos. In his first year, "OB" managed to finish just 5 games below .500, falling off the pace in the WCC in the last few weeks of the season.

However, during the 2002 season, Santa Clara managed to end a long and quite embarrassing run of 20 consecutive losses to the Cardinal dating back to 1997 when the handed Stanford a 13-9 loss on the 23rd of February. However, Stanford did take 3 of 4 from Santa Clara in 2002, highlighted by a 13-2 drubbing of the Broncos in May. Ryan Garko blasted 2 HR.

Both teams look to improve in 2003 where they left off in 2002. While Stanford obviously had another tremendously successful season when it advanced to the semifinals of the College World Series, the goal of every Stanford player and coach at the onset of the season is to not only make it to Omaha, but to hold the trophy at the end. Meanwhile, the Broncos haven't made the NCAA tournament since 1997, and with the 17th best recruiting class in the country, Coach OB believes that this is the year that string is snapped.

STANFORD

Every year graduation and the draft takes its toll on a college baseball team, and this year is no exception.  Gone are senior infielders Chris O'Riordan, Scott Dragicevich, Andy Topham, and Arik Van Zandt. Gone is the Pac-10 pitcher of the year Jeremy Guthrie and stalwart power hitter Jason Cooper, who depart for the Cleveland Indians farm system. Much like the 2001 season, Stanford must find a way to reload. However, unlike 2001, the Cardinal have experienced players to fill the voids left behind by the departures of such key players. Baseball America's John Manuel recognized the talent of the Cardinal and the ability of Mark Marquess to guide his team to Omaha by ranking Stanford #3 in the BA preseason poll.

Key Losses:

    * Jeremy Guthrie (13-2, 2.51, 135 K, Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year). The horse of the Cardinal staff in 2002 was drafted in the first round by the      Cleveland Indians, signing a major league contract for his golden arm.

    * Chris O'Riordan (.332, 10 HR, 47 RBIs). The heart of Stanford's infield for 3 years, leadership on and off the field will be missed.

    * Jason Cooper (.350, 13 HR, 57 RBIs). The highly recruited junior departs after a strong campaign in which he finished second on the club in HR (Garko).
 

Key Additions:

    * John Mayberry, Jr.: A first round draft pick from Kansas City and the son of former Kansas City Royal John Mayberry, Marquess pulled of a coup by luring sweet swinging, 6'5" Mayberry away from the Seattle Mariners and to the Farm. He is the only first round pick in 2002 to attend a four year college. Likely will start from Day 1 at Stanford.

    * Kodiak Quick: A hard-throwing righty who may start as the closer for the Cardinal or possibly as the #3 starter.

    * Mark Romanczuk: Good lefty presence on the mound was picked in the 5th round by Tampa Bay but decided to come to Stanford.
 

Probable Starting Lineup (stats from 2002):

    * C Ryan Garko (.314, 14 HR, 55 RBI). The slugging catcher returns for his fourth year at school after surprisingly not being drafted in 2003. He will clearly be in the lineup everyday, but even though he has been the starter at catcher since 2001, he might not be behind the plate every day because of the strong defense of Donny Lucy. Look for Garko to hit 3rd or 4th.

    * 1B John Mayberry, Jr. (.432, 9 HR, 31 RBI at Rockhurst HS). While he may only be a freshman, he will find a place in the lineup because of his bat. He may already be one of the top pure hitters on the team.

    * 2B Jonny Ash (.250, 0 HR, 5 RBI). Even though his playing time went down in 2002 because of a deep crop of hitters on the team, Mark Marquess is lucky to have a veteran hitter to replace O'Riordan at 2B. This will be his first prolonged appearance defensively in his career, but he has good hands and a good arm.

    * SS Tobin Swope (.405, 0 HR, 5 RBI). Everyone who knows Tobin is thrilled to see him in the starting lineup. With tremendous speed, consistent defense, an improving bat, and a great attitude, he deserves a spot in the starting lineup after sporadic playing time for three years.

    * 3B Brian Hall (.267, 3 HR, 35 RBI). Offseason shoulder surgery and returning to a more familiar position hopefully will lead to a breakout year for Hall. While his numbers may not show it, Hall's experience in 2001 and 2002, baserunning skills, and versatility will be a plus for 9's bunch.

    * LF Danny Putnam (.212, 1 HR, 10 RBI). Didn't play much in 2001 but this 5'10" outfielder packs a punch from the left side of the plate but will need to hit early to stay in the lineup, especially when Chris Carter returns from injury.

    * CF Sam Fuld (.375, 8 HR, 47 RBI). An All-American CF, Fuld is a catalyst at the top of the lineup from the left side and a good defensive player. After a season in which he upped his homerun total from 0 in 2001 to 8 HR in 2002, Fuld is a true offensive threat, hitting over .400 in Pac-10 play last year, and hitting 2 HR at the CWS.

    * RF Carlos Quentin (.303, 12 HR, 54 RBI). Some college baseball writers think 2002 was a "down year" for Quentin. If so, pitchers better watch out for a "good year" in 2003. Quentin's tremendous power make him the prime candidate to hit third in the 2003 lineup and professional baseball people are picking him as one of the top collegiate baseball players in America because of his bat and plus arm in RF. Stanford fans hope the Quentin can start 2003 as he started 2001 and 2002: both years he hit a 3 run HR in his first AB.

    * DH Donny Lucy (.282, 3 HR, 29 RBI): A fast start in 2002 in which Lucy had RBIs in 12 straight games would tail off and Lucy would play rarely at the end of the season. His power has been compared to Joe Borchard and his defense as a catcher may allow Marquess to keep him at DH for only so long.
 

Probable Rotation:

    * John Hudgins (10-1, 4.71 ERA, 105 IP, 62 K). Hudgins has established himself as one of the top two starters on this staff after a 2002 season in which he consistently pitched well. While he isn't overpowering, Hudgins has great movement on his pitches, particularly a nasty changeup. One thing to watch out for: the longball. Hudgins gave up 17 HR in 19 appearances last year.

    * Tim Cunningham (10-3, 4.26 ERA, 112 IP, 67 K). When he is on, Cunningham is one of the best lefties in college baseball. When he is off his game, look out. Like Hudgins, Cunningham might not blow anyone away with his 87-88 mph fastball, but a variety of offspeed pitches serve to keep hitters off balance. The first inning is usually Tim's toughest. If he gets ground ball outs, he is very tough to hit.  No announcement yet as to who starts on which day.
 

SANTA CLARA

Second year Head Coach Mark O'Brien expects bigger things out of this years club. Losing only 3 players to graduation, O'Brien brought in a very strong group of freshman to complement a team with good experience. Finishing 2nd in the WCC Coast Division behind Pepperdine last year, the experts again pick SCU to finish in 2nd this year. Don't be surprised to see this team make huge strides this season.

Santa Clara returns their top 3 starters from last year: Joe Diefenderfer, Matt Travis, and John Redmond, all who had respectable ERAs in the mid to upper 4's last season. However, the strength of this team will likely be up the middle, as C Jim Wallace, 2B AJ LaBarbera, and CF Jack Headley return off all WCC seasons. Wallace is the biggest threat of the group. In their preseason preview of the WCC, the magazine claims that Wallace has the best arm of any catcher in the conference. With the bat, Wallace is also their leader, hitting .330 with 12 HR last year.

One thing this team has not had in the past: success against Stanford. Santa Clara has won only one game against the Cardinal since 1997. On paper at least, this is their best team since the tournament squad of that year.
 

Key Losses:

    * Joey Gomes (.408, 10 HR, 51 RBI). After a great 2002, Gomes was drafted by the Devil Rays and went on to hit 15 HR for the NY-Penn Hudson Valley Renegades before being called up to Bakersfield for the end of the season.

    * Pat Peavey (.300, 3 HR, 45 RBI). A key infield loss for O'Brien, Peavey hit .236 in the NY-Penn League after being drafted.
 

Key Additions:

    * Scott Shapiro (2-1, 13.74 ERA, 19 IP, 22 BB, 13 K and .340, 5 HR, 30 HR for Vanderbilt in 2002). His numbers don't show it, but Shapiro can throw in the mid 90s and the SCU staff is very excited about his presence. If he can show some control (the 22 walks in 19 innings really stand out) he could be a presence on the mound. No word on whether or not O'Brien plans to use Shapiro both ways, but .340 in the SEC is no slouch.

* Will Thompson (.239, 0 HR, 9 RBI at Arizona in 2002). Expected to start at 1B. Played in 32 games for Andy Lopez last season. 0 for 2 with a K against the Cardinal in the marathon 18 inning game at Sancet Field.

* Michael Lange (Bishop Amat HS): Rangy 5'11", 190 pound shortstop who should be outstanding defensively and will start.
 

Probable Starting Lineup (Stats from 2002):

    * C #8 Jim Wallace (.330, 12 HR, 44 RBI, R/R, 6"3, 210 lb). The leader of this team offensively and defensively, Wallace was the WCC player of the month in April where he hit .444 with 8 HR.

    * 1B #31 Will Thompson (.239, 0 HR, 9 RBI, L/L, 6'2", 185 lb). Thompson replaces a platoon of first basemen the Broncos used in 2002.

    * 2B #4 A.J. LaBarbera (.342, 4 HR, 35 RBI, R/R, 5'10", 190 lb). The only returning infielder for the Broncos is expected to improve defensively after a rocky start at SS last year, making 15 errors in 16 games. Moving to 2B for the final 40 games, he made only 4 errors. 7-16 against Stanford in 2002.

    * SS #11 Michael Lange (Freshman, R/R, 5'11", 190 lb). Excellent defensive shortstop will try to anchor a position where the Broncos struggled defensively in 2002.

    * 3B #15 Michael Thompson (Freshman, R/R, 6'4", 225 lb). A former SS in high school, Thompson has the ability to make the transition to 3B.

    * LF #31 Ryan Chiarelli (.274, 0 HR, 19 RBI, L/L, 6'1", 175 lb). As a freshman Chiarelli gained valuable experience in LF. Not a power threat, he only had 4 extra base hits in 48 AB. 4-15 against Stanford.

    * CF #3 Jack Headley (.254, 1 HR, 37 RBI, R/R, 5'10", 200 lb). Headley should stay in CF this year after playing both CF and 2B last year. Extremely quick, the senior stole 21 of 25 last year and is probably the faster baserunner in the WCC. 5-17, 7 RBI vs. Stanford last year.

    * RF #24 Ryan Pierpont (.197, 0 HR, 5 RBI, R/R, 6'3", 205 lb). Expected to compete with Jason Matteucci for the starting RF spot.

    * DH #9 David Mandley (.261, 2 HR, 16 RBI, R/R, 6'2", 205 lb). Mandley and Shawn Epidendio had the most AB last year out of any other players not already in the lineup.
 

Probable Rotation:

    * Sat: #18 Joe Diefenderfer (4-6, 4.77 ERA, 15 GS, 103.2 IP, 70 K). Diefenderfer returns to the starting rotation for the Broncos. The lefty started the Sunday game against the Card last year, going eight innings, receiving a ND giving up 7 runs (4 earned) on 12 hits.

    * Sun: #10 Matt Travis (5-4, 4.35 ERA, 11 GS, 78.2 IP, 50 K). Another senior lefty for the Bronocs, Travis did not pitch against Stanford last year. Opposing hitters only hit .266 against Travis and will be counted upon to throw a lot of innings this year.
 

THE LAST TIME

5/7/2002:  Stanford 13, Santa Clara 2. Behind two homers from Ryan Garko and a HR from Sam Fuld, Stanford won the final of the four games between the two teams in 2002. Darin Naatjes picked up his 4th win.

2/24/2002: Stanford 8, Santa Clara 7. Although Santa Clara had the lead going into the 9th inning, Ryan Garko's 2 run HR off A.J. Ampi propelled Stanford to victory. Jonny Dyer won his first college game.

2/23/2002: Santa Clara 13, Stanford 9. For the first time in 21 games, the Broncos defeated the Cardinal. Stanford led 6-0 after the first half inning but Santa Clara scored 10 runs in the first 3 innings off Ryan McCally, Drew Ehrlich, and Mark Jecmen. Joey Gomes and Shawn Epidendio homered for the Broncos.

2/22/2002: Stanford 5, Santa Clara 4. 20 consecutive wins for the Cardinal over Santa Clara as Jason Cooper singled home Carlos Quentin in the bottom of the 9th for the win. J.D. Willcox recorded one out for the win.


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