Cal State Fullerton Preview

With an early 2-0 jump on the season, the Card leave the Bay Area for their first extended road trip this weekend. They face perennial early season foes Cal State Fullerton, who like the Card continually reside in the upper echelon of college baseball. Forget that it's January, and jump in feet first for this big baseball weekend! The Bootleg has all the details on both squads.

#3 Stanford Cardinal (2-0, 47-18 in 2002) vs.
#13 Cal St. Fullerton Titans (0-0, 37-22 in 2002)

Friday: 7:00 PM
Saturday: 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM

*All games played at Goodwin Field in Fullerton.

Every year, the Stanford Cardinal takes on Cal St. Fullerton in an early season series that pits two top ranked teams up against each other to start the season. At 2-0, Stanford has a head start on Fullerton this year, but that head start won't matter much. While in the past few years the Cardinal has dominated Cal St. Fullerton (Stanford has won 12 of the last 14 dating back to 1999, including 4 postseason wins, 3 of which were in Omaha), every year the games are extremely close and showcase the best college baseball has to offer.

Last year, Cal St. Fullerton's season ended on the field at Sunken Diamond, losing to the Cardinal and Long Beach St. in the NCAA Tournament. The 2002 Palo Alto Regional was likely the most difficult of all time: Fullerton entered the tournament ranked #25 in the country and earned a #4 seed at the regional. Clearly, the Titans were a lot better than their early exit in the tournament would indicate, as evidenced by their performance against Stanford in the first game of the 2002 regional. In that game, Fullerton took a 2-0 lead against Jeremy Guthrie and the Cardinal into the 8th inning. Titans' ace Wes Littleton dominated Stanford until he gave up a run in the 8th on a Chris Carter 1B and a run in the 9th on a hit by Chris O'Riordan. Behind Jeremy Guthrie's incredible 13 inning complete game performance, the Cardinal were victorious 3-2.

While the Titans have yet to play a game, every sign indicates that this Cal St. Fullerton team is better than last year. Gone are starters Chris Stringfellow, Geoff Comfort, and Chris Klosterman from their starting lineup and 11 game winner Jordan DeJong, but the #2 recruiting class in the country should make up for their absence.

STANFORD

January for college baseball teams is usually the time where a team figures out who is going to play everyday and where a team starts to learn about itself. Through two games, Stanford has learned that it can hit the ball consistently, pitch deep into games, and play outstanding defense. Still, two wins over Santa Clara in January are too early to mean that much, but Stanford has to be buoyed by two very nice performances.

Don't expect a lot to change personnel-wise for Stanford in this series. With the exception of All-American Sam Fuld, every player in the lineup played at least one good game against the Broncos. Since Chris Carter is still out, expect Mark Marquess to use the same lineup against Cal St. Fullerton that he did against Santa Clara.

Probable Starting Lineup:

  • C Ryan Garko

2003: 4-9, 2B, 2 RBI.
2002
: 314, 14 HR, 55 RBI.

Garko had a good weekend against the Broncos, headlined by his 3-4 performance on Saturday afternoon, driving home two runs in his first two AB. Garko also showed improved speed racing home from 1st on a Mayberry 3B. He caught the first game and played the second game at DH. Look Garko to see time at both spots this weekend. Last year against Wes Littleton, Garko may have had the most success out of any Cardinal starter, going 3-7 with a 2B including a leadoff single in the 9th inning of the 3-2 Stanford win in the NCAAs.

  • 1B John Mayberry, Jr.

2003: 3-9, 2B, 3B.
2002
: .432, 9 HR, 31 RBI at Rockhurst HS.

Junior looked like a veteran at the plate and in the field, tripling off the wall in right center for his first college hit on Saturday and hitting a ball off the top of the bat to the wall on Sunday for a double. Didn't miss a beat playing 1B either. Should hit 5th in the lineup like last week.

  • 2B Jonny Ash

2003: 1-76, 1B, 2 RBI.
2002
: 250, 0 HR, 5 RBI.

Ash hit the fall fairly well out of the #9 spot in the order, although the numbers don't show it. He made all the plays defensively at 2B and should remain in the lineup indefinitely.

  • SS Tobin Swope

2003: 3-9, RBI, SB.
2002
: .405, 0 HR, 5 RBI.

Swope led off for Stanford in both games last week against two lefties. Against a righty, Marquess may leave him there or opt to put Hall at the top of the lineup. Swope used his speed against Santa Clara to get two infield hits, including a bunt single in the 8th on Sunday which drove home a run. Defensively, isn't as flashy as Andy Topham nor does he have as good of an arm as Scott Dragicevich, but he is consistent and gets the job done.

  • 3B Brian Hall

2003: 3-8, HR, 2 SB.
2002
: .267, 3 HR, 35 RBI.

While many thought that Hall would hit in the leadoff spot, he hit in the 8 hole against Santa Clara and thrived, hitting a solo homer and singling on Saturday and singled and scored a run Sunday. On both days Hall had stolen bases. In the field, Hall's arm looked fine and doesn't seem to be showing any lingering effects of the surgery he had in the summer. He made an outstanding barehand pickup of a bunt and threw the runner out on the run.

  • LF Danny Putnam

2003: 5-7, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI
2002
: .212, 1 HR, 10 RBI.

The biggest offensive threat of the first weekend, Putnam homered in each of the first two games and hit the ball hard every time up. Would not be a surprise to see Putnam move up to hit #6 behind Mayberry with on Friday and Sunday with righties on the mound.

  • CF Sam Fuld

2003: 0-9, 3 K, HBP.
2002
: .375, 8 HR, 47 RBI.

The All-American CF struggled in his first two games. The only player in the lineup to go hitless in the first two games, Fuld continued the mini-slump against SCU that he began in practice the week before. Fuld hit in the #2 spot in the order and will likely stay there. In the past, Coach Marquess has moved Sam down to ninth when he has struggled, but that, along with a prolonged slump, seems highly unlikely.

  • RF Carlos Quentin

2003: 2-6, 2B, 2 BB, HBP, SB.
2002
: .303, 12 HR, 54 RBI.

A strong Saturday start where he reached base five consecutive times was followed by a 0-4 on Sunday. Quentin homered in his first at bat in 2002 off Wes Littleton. The three run shot was the only hit Quentin had off Littleton in 2002. He hit third in both of games against the Broncos and nothing seems to indicate that will change.

  • DH Donny Lucy (.282, 3 HR, 29 RBI):

2003: 2-9, 2B.
2002
: .282, 3 HR, 29 RBI.

Lucy alternated at catcher with Garko, throwing out a baserunner trying to steal on Sunday. He had one hit in each game and hit in the #6 spot. May move down to hit #7, but also will likely catch at least one game this weekend.

Probable Rotation:

  • Fri: John Hudgins

Last Outing: W, 6.0 IP, 5 Hits, 2 Runs, 1 BB, 6 K, 3 WP.
2002:
10-1, 4.71 ERA, 105 IP, 62 K.

Hudgins started where he left off in 2002 by winning in a strong first outing. While wild at times (as evidenced by the 3 WP), Hudgins only walked one and gave up only 1 extra base hit. For this start, he will have to work on only 6 days rest but that shouldn't be too much of an issue. The matchup against Littleton is a good one and should be a great test for Hudgins.

  • Sat: Tim Cunningham

Last Outing: W, 5.2 IP, 0 Hits, 0 Runs, 6 Walks, 4 K, 2 WP.
2002:
10-3, 4.26 ERA, 112 IP, 67 K.

Cunningham was unhittable, but also very wild. He seemed to either get ahead and get a groundout, or fall behind and walk batters. A very similar outing to last year- because he does walk batters, its tough to last much longer than the 6th. He will have a tougher time if he does that against the Titans, as their offense is much more proven than Santa Clara's. He has had success in the past against Fullerton, getting a victory in his only appearance last year, scattering five hits, allowing only 1 run in 6 innings.

  • Sun: Mark Jecmen (0-4, 8.26 ERA in 14 Appearances in 2002
    or Ryan McCally (3.0 IP, 1 H on Saturday in relief. 4-3, 3.53 ERA, 25 appearances in 2002.)
  • The Sunday starter is a bit of a mystery. Mark Jecmen didn't throw at all against Santa Clara. He started the season last year as the third starter and has a great deal of talent: he throws hard and has other pitches than this fastball. However, last year never worked out for Jecmen. He is looking for a new start. McCally, on the other hand, is a proven commodity. He throws about 10 mph slower than Jecmen but has 3 years of relief experience under his belt. Marquess may decide he needs McCally too much out of the bullpen and may decide to go with Jecmen or even Matt Manship on Sunday.

  • Bullpen: McCally, Jecmen, Drew Ehrlich (0-2, 5.45 in 2002), Mark Romanczuk (Freshman, 5th round draft pick by Tampa Bay), Kodiak Quick (Freshman, 2002 Kansas City Metro Player of the Year), Matt Manship (3.1 IP on Sunday, 1 H, 0 R).
  •  

CAL ST. FULLERTON

In 2002, Cal St. Fullerton finished in a tie for fourth place in the Big West Conference and went 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament, eliminated by fellow Big West member Long Beach St. Clearly, it was a down year for the Titans and a very disappointing finish, although they really were hurt by the NCAA selection committee. Nevertheless, this team is very experienced. Wes Littleton returns for his third year in the rotation. A junior righthander, Littleton's unorthodox motion and outstanding movement led him to a 9-4 record with a 2.40 ERA. Draft experts believe that Littleton will be a first round draft pick in the 2004 draft. Other than Littleton, Coach George Horton will rely upon two newcomers in the rotation: freshman Ryan Schreppel and redshirt freshman Dustin Miller. Travis Ingle and Darric Merrell, two veterans for the Titans, are sidelined with arm injuries until at least late February. Against Cal St. Fullerton, Stanford cannot afford to fall behind early. Chad Cordero is maybe the most dominant closer in the country. At 6'0", 195 lb, Cordero throws hard and is extremely tough to hit. He had a 0.00 ERA with Team USA, striking out 29 and walking 4 in 17.1 IP. Cordero saved 12 last year, and is the active national leader in saves.

Offensively, the Titans are led by Shane Costa, who hit .365 with 4 HR and 40 RBI for the Titans in 2002, and played well on the USA National Team, hitting .275. Costa is a 2nd Team Preseason All-American (Baseball America) and the publication also projects him as the Big West Player of the Year. Originally slated to start in CF, Costa may be bumped to RF by the emergence of veteran Kyle Boyer, who has great power but has failed to show it in his first two years, hitting only 2 home runs. The Titans may start up two freshman: Justin Turner at 2B is challenging senior Jason Corapci for the starting spot and freshman Danny Dorn or Shawn Scobee will start in LF. Scobee was a fifth round pick of the Cubs and Team One Baseball rated him the 49th best high school player in the country last year.

Expect close games each time out this weekend. While Fullerton's staff may be inexperienced on Saturday and Sunday, their lineup should be much improved and will put runs on the board. The last time Stanford went down south in 2001, these teams played 2 1-run games and a 2-run game. This weekend will likely be the same, with the winner of the series gaining a large momentum boost early in the year. Stanford needs to have a lead after 6-7 in order to win. Cordero is almost unbeatable: the Titans have lost only 1 time in two years when he comes into the game in the 9th with a lead.

Key Losses:

  • P Jordan DeJong (11-3, 4.00 ERA, 21 Appearances). Threw over 150 pitches in the Regional vs. San Jose St. to keep Fullerton alive.
  • OF Chris Stringfellow (.264, 5 HR, 35 RBI). Key presence at the top of the Titans lineup for 3 years gone after graduation.
  • OF Geoff Comfort (.279, 5 HR, 28 RBI). Good enough defensively to make the transition from catcher. Good enough offensively to homer off Jeremy Guthrie on opening day 2002.

Key Additions:

  • LHP Ryan Schreppel. 20th round selection gets his first collegiate start vs. Tim Cunningham on Saturday
  • 3B Ronnie Prettyman. Transfer should start over veteran Mike Martinez at 3B.
  • OF Danny Dorn. Freshman sleeper will see playing time in LF to start the season.

Probable Starting Lineup (Stats from 2002):

  • C #3 Kurt Suzuki (So. R/R, 6'0", 195 lb., Wailuku, HI)

2002: .392 (20-51), 1 HR, 8 RBI

or C #44 P.J. Pilittere (Jr. R/R, 6'0", 205 lb., Walnut, CA)

2002: .269, 2 HR, 19 RBI

Suzuki was starting regularly in 2002 but then was sidelined by a hip and wrist injury. This offseason he had surgery on the wrist and should be ready to play. His first collegiate hit came off J.D. Willcox in Game 3 at Sunken Diamond last season. P.J. Pilittere may also see playing time. He started most games last year (42) but slumped late in the year.

  • 1B # 17 Richie Burgos (Jr. L/R 6'0", 180 lb, Glendora, CA)

2002: .344, 3 HR, 35 RBI in 55 games (47 starts)

Burgos was the starter for 47 of 55 games last year for Horton at 1B. The incumbent was the every day 1B against righties, so look for him to start against Hudgins on Friday, and maybe look for redshirt freshman Jake Mendrin, who had a great fall, to play a great deal this weekend, possibly even start. Burgos doesn't have big power: in 197 AB at Fullerton he has only 3 HR.

  • 2B #23 Justin Turner (Fr. R/R, 5'11", 160 lb, Lakewood, CA)

or 2B #4 Jason Corapci (Sr. R/R, 5'8", 175 lb., Orange, CA)

2002: .259, 3 HR, 38 RBI.

Turner may have the edge over senior Corapci after a good spring and fall. Corapci had offseason shoulder surgery and hit only .259 last season but is the incumbent, so it should be interesting to see who Horton plays. Turner played well in the fall and has a chance to bump Corapci to DH.

  • SS #2 Justin Smyres (Sr. R/R, 6'0", 175 lb, Paso Robles, CA)

2002: .286, 3 HR, 21 RBI.

Smyres hit leadoff for the Titans last year after transferring from Cuesta College. A year and a half ago, Smyres was in a car accident, suffering damage to his neck. Fullerton believes that he is now ok and is ready to go pain-free for 2003.

  • 3B #15 Ronnie Prettyman (So. L/R, 6'2", 185 lb., Los Alamitos, CA)

Prettyman will battle Mike Martinez for the starting spot, but seemingly will start opening day. Prettyman is a transfer from Cerritos College who played mostly 2B last year and hit .353, but Horton wants to move him to 3B with Corapci and Turner at 2B. Prettyman also hits left which is a plus for this primarily right handed lineup.

  • LF #27 Danny Dorn (Fr. L/L. 6'2", 180 lb., Diamond Bar, CA)

or LF #34 Shawn Scobee (Fr., R/R, 6'2", 205 lb., Rio Linda, CA)

Two Freshman will compete for the LF starting spot. Dorn played at the same HS at Mark Jecmen and hit .530 with 11 HR. Scobee was the most highly touted member of this outstanding freshman class, drafted in the fifth round by the Cubs. Look for him against Cunningham Saturday.

  • CF #22 Kyle Boyer (Jr. R/R, 6'1", 195 lb., Temecula, CA).

2002: .275, 1 HR, 19 RBI.

  • RF #33 Shane Costa (Jr., L/R, 6'1", 200 lb., Visalia, CA)

2002: .365, 4 HR, 40 RBI.

The most proven player in the CSUF lineup, Costa is a 2nd Team All-America because of his bat. He is a career .370 hitter for the Titans who has hit more for average than power (only 4 HR in 2 years). Costa has been hit 17 times by a pitch in 2 years (including 26 times last year!) , and has only struck out 30 times.

  • DH #4 Jason Corapci (See above) or DH #34 Shawn Scobee (See above)

 

Probable Rotation:

  • Fri: #31 RHP Wes Littleton (Jr. 6'3", 200 lb., Oceanside, CA)

2002: 9-4, 2.40 ERA, 18 starts, 131.1 IP, 34 BB, 86 K

One of the most dominant starters on the coast, Littleton is a second team All-American for good reason. Last year against the Card, Littleton took the loss on opening day getting roughed up for 7 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits. However, he turned it around in his next outing against Stanford in the NCAAs. Shutting out the Cardinal for 7 2/3 innings, Littleton almost bettered Jeremy Guthrie until Chris O'Riordan's clutch single in the 9th (Stanford won in 13). Littleton's arm angle and movement make him very tough to hit. He comes from just above a sidearm slot and his pitches drop. He is a great story; in 2001 he was left off the CWS travel roster and now he is one of the top starters in college baseball.

  • Sat: #26 LHP Ryan Schreppel (Fr. 6'2", 180 lb., Stockton, CA)

2002: Lincoln HS

Schreppel will have a difficult assignment facing Tim Cunningham on Saturday with Travis Ingle and Darric Merrill out with injury. Pitching in Alaska last summer for the Anchorage Bucs, he posted good numbers for a high schooler: 2-2, 3.96 ERA, 36.1 IP, 31 K. A 20th round draft pick of Minnesota.

  • Sun: #38 RHP Dustin Miller (Redshirt Fr. 6'4", 210 lb., Diamond Bar HS).

2002: Redshirted.

It would be very interesting if Mark Jecmen started on Sunday for an all-Diamond Bar matchup. Redshirted in 2002. Miller posted a 9-2 mark his senior year at DBHS with a 1.39 ERA.

  • Bullpen: 

#32 RHP Chad Cordero (Jr., 4-3, 2.91 ERA, 12 SV)

#48 RHP Sean Martin (Sr., 2-1, 3.00 ERA, 21 Appearances)

#10 LHP Ricky Romero (Fr., 12-1, 0.53 ERA at Roosevelt HS in East LA).

The Last Time:

5/31/02 Stanford 3, Cal St. Fullerton 2 (13 innings- NCAA Regional)

Jeremy Guthrie's 13 inning masterpiece was bettered until the 9th by Wes Littleton. Chris Carter's single in the 8th brought the Titan lead to 2-1, O'Riordan tied it in the 9th with a single, and Scott Dragicevich's 1B in the 13th won it for Stanford.

2/3/02 Cal St. Fullerton 6, Stanford 3

Shane Costa went 3-5 with 2 doubles and Darric Merrell gave up 3 runs on 7 hits in 5.1 innings to win the first game since 1999 with Stanford.

2/2/02 Stanford 17, Cal St. Fullerton 1

A career day for Brian Hall, hitting a HR and driving in 6, while Tim Cunningham allowed only one run in six innings for the win.

2/1/02 Stanford 7, Cal St. Fullerton 4

Carlos Quentin hit a 3-run HR in the first off Wes Littleton and Stanford never looked back. Guthrie got the win and McCally struck out 5 for the save.


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