Florida State Preview

The Stanford Cardinal Baseball team, under .500 for the first time since 2001, returns to the friendly confines of Sunken Diamond to attempt to reverse the fortunes of last weekend. However, it won't be easy, as perennial ACC power Florida State returns to Palo Alto for the first time since being swept by the Cardinal in 2001. Two of the top four teams in America square off in another great early season series.

#4 Florida St. (3-0) vs. #3 Stanford (2-3)

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

*All games played at Stanford's Sunken Diamond

In 1999, both the Stanford Cardinal and the Florida St. Seminoles emerged victorious from Super Regionals to play in the same side of the bracket of the College World Series. The teams would play three games in Omaha. Stanford won the first game, but dropped the next two to Florida St., including a thrilling 13-11, 13 inning marathon which featured more dramatics than can be described in this column. After this meeting in Omaha, the Cardinal and the Seminoles began an annual non-conference series. In 2000, Stanford traveled to Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee for the first time and lost two of three. The next season, Mike Martin's crew arrived in Palo Alto for the first series at the newly remodeled Sunken Diamond. Stanford swept FSU, giving Mark Marquess his 1000th career victory in the Friday night game. It should be remembered that the 2001 trip to the Bay Area was marred with tragedy, as the FSU bus driver died of a heart attack while taking the team to San Francisco on a sightseeing tour. Assistant Coach Chip Baker took control of the bus and saved FSU from an even worse tragedy.

Last year, Stanford returned to Florida St. and promptly won two of three. The Seminoles would lose only two games at Dick Howser the rest of the season before being bounced by Notre Dame in the 2002 Super Regionals. While the history between these two teams is comparatively young (7-7), the games played have been both exciting and memorable.

Both teams are highly rated but coming off very different first weekends. Stanford traveled to #13 Cal St. Fullerton and was swept for the first time since 1997, the first time by Fullerton since 1983. Florida St. played and swept Virginia Military Institute, a team that went 10-41 last season.


Last weekend in Orange County, the Cardinal were thoroughly outplayed by Cal St. Fullerton in every aspect of the game: offensively, defensively, and on the mound. The Cardinal managed only seven runs of Titan pitching. Still having failed to score more than two in an inning, Stanford has not been able to create the big inning as they did last year so frequently. The biggest concern, however, may have been the defense, which committed eight errors in three games after playing flawlessly against Santa Clara to begin the season. Clearly, Stanford experienced some growing pains down south.

However, remember several things. First, Cal St. Fullerton is a very, very good team. Markedly improved over 2002, the Titans arguably have the best pitching staff in the country, and that should be taken into account when considering Stanford's offensive woes. Second, the Cardinal are much younger than last year, and early season problems will happen. Two of the pitchers that got roughed up were freshman who had a combined experience of 3.1 innings of college baseball between the two of them. Matt Manship and Kodiak Quick will be much better as the season goes on. Finally, its February. The season is 56 games long, and although a sweep by the Titans is a bitter pill to swallow for Stanford, playing well this weekend can wash away the bad memories of Goodwin Field in Fullerton.

For Stanford, the schedule doesn't get any easier. After FSU this weekend, Stanford has Fresno St., then defending national champion Texas, then #6 USC and Cal, both of whom are expected to contend for the Pac-10 Title. Focusing just on Florida St., Mike Martin's squad is primed for a return to Omaha after a two year hiatus. No one expects Florida St. to duplicate their performance in 2001 when Stanford swept FSU out of town.

Probable Starting Lineup:

    * C Ryan Garko

    2003: .286 (6-21), 0 HR, 2 RBI. 2002: .314, 14 HR, 55 RBI.
    A strong start for Garko against Santa Clara but last weekend was big struggle for the senior. Garko hit into three double plays, going 2-12 in the series with only two singles. Garko hopes to replicate last year's performance against FSU when he hit a mammoth homer off a bus in the LF parking lot at Dick Howser. Garko should start at least two games at catcher, possibly all three after Donny Lucy's performance against Fullerton last weekend.

    * 1B John Mayberry, Jr.

    2003: .286 (6-21), 2 2B, 3B, HR, 5 K. 2002: .432, 9 HR, 31 RBI at Rockhurst HS.
    An up and down start for Mayberry: when he has hit the ball, its been in the gap or over the fence (only 2 singles so far). However, he has struck out a fair amount, including 3 times in one game at Fullerton. Still, the promise of a big season is there. 3-12 vs. Fullerton.

    * 2B Jonny Ash

    2003: .125 (2-16), 3B. 2002: 250, 0 HR, 5 RBI.
    Ash struggled vs. Fullerton, hitting safely only once (3B), going 1-10. He also made an error in Sunday's game. Hopefully things will improve for the veteran this weekend.

    * SS Tobin Swope

    2003: 250 (5-20). 2002: .405, 0 HR, 5 RBI.
    Swope moved down in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday. He, like many of the Cardinal last weekend, struggled against the Titans, going 2-11 in the series. Positively, he was one of two Stanford hitters with more than one hit on Saturday. Tobin also struggled in the field on Sunday, very uncharacteristic of his defense at Stanford.

    * 3B Brian Hall

    2003: .474 (9-19), HR, 3 RBI, 4-4 SB. 2002: .267, 3 HR, 35 RBI.
    Hall is off to perhaps the best start on the team after a good weekend at Fullerton which included a 4-4 performance on Friday night. He has been perfect on the basepaths and was rewarded in the final two games of the series, moving up to hit leadoff.

    * LF Danny Putnam

    2003: .444 (8-18), 2 HR, 3 RBI. 2002: .212, 1 HR, 10 RBI.
    Putnam slowed down this weekend, going 3-11, but still is playing well early. A good sign was when Danny doubled off All-American Chad Cordero on Sunday in the 9th, even if Stanford was trailing.

    * CF Sam Fuld

    2003: .182 (4-22), HR. 2002: .375, 8 HR, 47 RBI.
    The best .182 hitter in America turned things around after an 0-5 performance last Friday, extending his hitless streak to start the season to 14. Fuld went 3-4 on Saturday and homered on Sunday. Mark Marquess never wavered in his confidence of his CF, hitting him either first or second in all three games.

    * RF Carlos Quentin

    2003: .467 (7-15), 2 2B. 2002: .303, 12 HR, 54 RBI.
    Quentin seems to get on base almost every time (.636 OBP) but hasn't done a lot of damage: no homers and only two extra base hits in five games. However, Quentin hasn't seen much if anything to hit: he has been walked five times and hit twice.

    * DH Donny Lucy

    2003: 2-16, 10 K. 2002: .282, 3 HR, 29 RBI.
    A nightmare weekend at CSF: 0-7, 7 K. Lucy has struck out 8 consecutive times, dating back to the Santa Clara series. Mark Marquess stuck with him on Sunday, but pinch hit Jed Lowrie in the later innings.


    * DH Jed Lowrie

    2003: 0-4, 2 K. 2002: North Salem HS, Salem, OR.
    Lowrie hasn't found his stroke in four AB, but with Lucy struggling, Lowrie's switch hitting bat might find his way into the lineup.

Probable Rotation:

    * Fri: John Hudgins

    2003: 1-0, 3.75 ERA, 2 A/GS, 12 IP, 1 BB, 9 K.
    Last Outing: ND, 6.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
    2002: 10-1, 4.71 ERA, 105 IP, 62 K.
    Hudgins threw very well after the first inning on Friday night, where he gave up 3 runs. In the sixth inning, Hudgins gave up two hits and hit a batter, but then went on to strike out three consecutive to get out of the inning. Hudgins control has improved early this year: only 1 BB in 12 innings.

    * Sat: Tim Cunningham

    2003: 1-1, 3.97 ERA, 2 Starts, 11.1 IP, 8 BB, 11 K.
    Last Outing: L, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R/ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
    2002: 10-3, 4.26 ERA, 112 IP, 67 K.
    In many ways, Cunningham's outing against Fullerton was better than his 5.2 IP of no-hit ball against SCU. He walked only 1, struck out 7, and for the most part held the Titans in check until the 6th inning. However, he left with runners on base that would score, and the stat line looks worse than the actual outing. Roughed up last year against FSU, leaving in the 2nd inning of the Saturday game.

    * Sun:  Ryan McCally

    2003: 0-1, 4.15 ERA, 2 A, 1 GS, 1 S, 8.2 IP, 0 BB, 6 K.
    Last Outing: L, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K.
    2002: 4-3, 3.53, 25 A, 1 GS.
    With the exception of the 2nd inning on Sunday, McCally was excellent, throwing 4 innings where he faced the minimum. If Coach Marquess doesn't have to use him in a short relief appearance early in the weekend (say a one run game on Friday in the 9th), then he will likely start Sunday. Otherwise…


    * Sun: Mark Romanczuk

    2003 (and last outing): ND, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K
    Romanczuk was the best of the three freshman against the Titans. Of course, he faced the least pressure, going in when Stanford was already down 8-1. His fastball was good and his offspeed pitches kept hitters off balance.

* Bullpen: McCally, Romanczuk, Mark Jecmen, Drew Ehrlich, Kodiak Quick, Matt Manship, Jonny Dyer, David O'Hagan


The Seminoles are once again one of the premier programs in college baseball, coming into this weekend with a 3-0 record and a #4 ranking. Last weekend, FSU defeated Virginia Military Institute in three straight, although at 10-41 in 2002, VMI isn't exactly a major threat. Last season, FSU was the #1 national seed entering the NCAA tournament, but lost to Notre Dame in the Super Regionals in three games. The 2002 FSU teams had some names that were around and played in Tallahassee for four years, most notably 3B Ryan Barthelemy (.357, 17 HR, 94 RBI) and RHP Blair Varnes (10-3, 3.98 ERA).

FSU is loaded once again. Not too many teams this good are lead by a sophomore, but then again that sophomore is Steven Drew. The younger brother of JD is making a name for himself after last season's incredible numbers: .402, 16 HR, 54 RBI in only 46 games! Drew missed the Stanford series after breaking a bone in his foot early against Hawaii-Hilo in 2002. He is one of the best players in the country and along with Wes Whisler of UCLA, is probably the best player in his class. In addition, FSU returns catcher Tony Ritchie, who as a sophomore last year hit .353 with 13 HR.

The Seminoles are once again looking to visit Omaha, NE and finally win a College World Series for Head Coach Mike Martin, who has been to the CWS 12 times but has never won it. In 1999, the Seminoles lost a one run game in the Championship Game to Miami, and reached the bracket final in 2000, but have lost in Super Regional play in 2001 and 2002. As far as a conference outlook, the ACC is strong in the top half with #1 Georgia Tech, #7 Wake Forest, #19 Clemson, and #22 North Carolina but the rest of the conference is very weak. FSU should finish first or second again.

Key Losses:

    * 3B Ryan Barthelemy (.353, 13 HR, 75 RBI). The slugging third baseman finally has graduated after tormenting teams from the left side of the plate for four years.
    * CF Nick Rogers (.331, 8 HR, 69 RBI). Rogers put up solid numbers for FSU in the outfield last season and his offensive presence and good speed will be missed.
    * RHP Blair Varnes (10-3, 3.98 ERA, 106.1 IP, 77 K). After starting the National Championship game with a torn ACL in 1999, Varnes put together a good career as the ace of the Seminoles. The Card knocked him around in Tallahassee last season, as Varnes left in the first inning he pitched, but Varnes rebounded to get the win in relief on Sunday.

Key Returnees:

    * SS Steven Drew
    * C Tony Richie
    * LHP Matt Lynch
    * RHP Marc LaMacchia

Probable Starting Lineup:

    * C Tony Richie (Jr., R/R. 6'1", 210)

    2003: 4-12, 3 2B, 2 RBI. 2002: .353, 13 HR, 75 RBI.
    The total package at catcher: Richie can hit and field. While he didn't throw out that many runners attempting to steal, Richie did pick off 6 runners last year and Baseball America says he has the best arm in the conference. A first team All-American.

    * 1B Jerrod Brown (Sr., L/R, 5"10", 200)

    2003: 1-8, 2 RBI. 2002: .327, 4 HR, 56 RBI.
    Brown made his Seminole debut against the Cardinal last year after transferring from junior college. He was good enough to remain in the lineup, garner 2nd team All-ACC Honors, and allow Mike Martin to play Ryan Barthelemy at 3B rather than 1B.

    * 2B Bryan Zech (Jr., R/R, 5'10", 175)

    2003: 4-10, 2B, 2 RBI. 2002: .294, 4 HR, 38 RBI
    Zech isn't flashy, but gets the job done at 2B offensively. Defensively might be a different story. Last year he made 27 errrors. In his defense, many of those errors came when he was playing SS when Drew was out with injury, but a .922 fielding percentage for a 2B is awfully low.

    * SS Steven Drew (So., L/R, 6'0", 190)

    2003: 2-12, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI. 2002: .402, 16 HR, 54 RBI
    Drew is probably the best college shortstop in America. To say he is the best player in America, period, isn't a stretch either. While its only one year, 16 HR in 46 games is very impressive, especially for a freshman. The Freshman of the Year can hit, run (13-15 SB), and field (.963). Drew is a five tool player. Hits leadoff.

    * 3B Eddy Martinez-Esteve (Fr., R/R, 6'2", 200)

    2003: 5-12, 2B, RBI. 2002: Westminster Christian HS, Miami.
    Along with Mark Sauls, Martinez-Esteve is the highest draft pick ever to sign with FSU (3rd round, Seattle). Tons of power in high school, as he hit 21 HR in his final two years. As such, Martin has started him at 3B and hit him in the #3 spot in the order.

    * LF Tony McQuade (Jr., S/R, 6'2", 205)

    2003: 4-12, 2B, 2 RBI. 2002: .376, 6 HR, 46 RBI.
    Coming off a good year in 2002, McQuade will hit in the #2 spot in the order after reaching base 49% of the time last season. 2nd Team All-ACC in 2002.

    * CF Matt Sauls (Jr., R/R, 6'1", 215)

    2003: 1-7, 2B. 2002: Gulf Coast JC.
    Junior college transfer has started in CF for FSU for the first 3 games. Brother Mark is a big time freshman pitcher who will likely start on Sunday.

    * RF Blake Balkcom (Jr., R/R, 6'2", 225)

    2003: 5-12, 2B, 5 RBI. 2002: Chipola JC
    Another JC Transfer starting in the OF for FSU. Mike Martin says he has one of the best arms in FSU history.

    * DH Derrick Smith (Fr., L/L, 5'10", 170)

    2003: 3-9, 2 2B. 2002: Dooly HS
    Freshman allows Martin to add another lefty to the lineup when a RHP is on the hill. Sophomore Kevin Richmond will likely start on Saturday against Cunningham.

Probable Rotation:

    * Fri: RHP Marc LaMacchia (Jr., 6'0", 190)

    2003: 1-0, 1 GS, 0.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K vs. VMI.
    2002: 11-2, 3.38 ERA, 18 G, 14 GS, 96.0 IP, 75 K.
    LaMacchia dominated VMI last weekend, pitching no-hit baseball through 6 innings, giving up only an unearned run. Throws harder than #2 starter Lynch and has a good curveball. Did not pitch against Stanford in 2002.  Experienced pitcher.

    * Sat: LHP Matt Lynch (Sr., 6'2", 185)

    2003: 1-0, 1 GS, 7.20 ERA, 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K.
    2002: 13-2, 3.59 ERA, 20 GS, 130.1 IP, 98 K.
    Lynch is a control pitcher who was drafted in the 7th round by the Padres after a great junior year. It's a bit of a surprise to see Lynch back in an FSU uniform. Baseball America says he has the best control of any pitcher in the ACC and is the 8th best college prospect. Stanford tagged Lynch for 5 runs on 8 hits in 2002.

    * Sun:  RHP Mark Sauls (Fr., 6'4", 210)

    2003:  1-0, 1 G, 4 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K.
    2002:  Bay HS, Panama City, FL.
    Sauls is a 3rd round draft pick who went unsigned with the Minnesota Twins.  His first outing in relief was enough to bump him up to the probably Sunday starter against Stanford.  Against VMI, Sauls was virtually unhittable, picking up the win in 4 IP.  Also can hit as well, as FSU lists Sauls as a 3B/P

Bullpen: LHP Daniel Hodges (2 G, 1 S. 2002: 12 Saves, 2.56 ERA), RHP Kevin Lynch (1 IP, 2 K. 2002: 4-1, 4.64 ERA, 30 Games), LHP Trent Peterson (1 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 IP. 2002: 4-2, 3.35 ERA, 51 IP)

The Last Time:

2/10/02    Florida St. 7, Stanford 6
                FSU salvaged the win as Blair Varnes rebounded from a terrible Friday outing to pitch 3.2 innings of one run baseball. Mike Futrell hit 3 HR, with a HR in the 8th of J.D. Willcox proving to be the difference.

2/9/02      Stanford 15, Florida St. 11
                A wild game: Stanford trailed 7-1 after an inning but put up five runs in the fifth, headlined by a 3 run homer by Ryan Garko off the top of a bus in left field. John Hudgins picked up the victory in relief and also got an AB- flying out to RF in the 9th inning.

2/8/02      Stanford 9, Florida St. 3
                Stanford scored 7 runs in the first inning, 6 off Blair Varnes and never trailed. 2 run singles by Quentin, Lucy (first college hit), and Topham broke it open for Stanford. Jeremy Guthrie was the winner.

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