Fresno State Preview

3-5? Under .500? What is going on? Well, many things for the Stanford Cardinal baseball team after eight games. Struggles offensively, in the field, and at times on the mound, coupled with two top ten opponents hasn't leant itself to early success. The Cardinal will have a chance to turn it around at Sunken Diamond this weekend against unranked Fresno State with new coach Mike Batesole.

Fresno St. (1-3) vs. #11 Stanford (3-5)
 
Friday: 6:00 PM
Saturday: 1:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM
*All games played at Stanford? Sunken Diamond
 
Eight games into the 2003 season, the Cardinal are 2 games under .500.  Coming into the 2003 season, certainly questions abounded about the status of the squad.  Who would replace the four senior infielders that started for Stanford in 2001 and 2002?  Who would emerge as the #3 starter?  Would the hitting actually improve upon the numbers of last year? team?  At this point, none of those questions has been sufficiently answered.  However, keep in mind that Stanford has played two of the best teams in the county during this span where they have lost 5 of 6.  Cal St. Fullerton dominated Fresno St. last weekend climbing to #6 in the Baseball America poll, while Florida St. moved up one spot to #3 after last weekend.  Clearly, it is not as if the Cardinal are being beat by lesser opponents.
 
This weekend is an interesting test for both teams.  For the Cardinal, they need to win a series for the first time in three weekends.  Two series losses in a row at home would be very difficult to swallow, even this early in the season.  The Cardinal need to be at .500 at the very least after the 3 Fresno St. games and the Monday vs. Nevada.  For Fresno St., two wins (or maybe even one) would be a positive trip to Sunken, a place where they have not played since 1999, when they won 2 of 3 to start the season.
 

STANFORD
 
While its true that Stanford lost its first series since 1999 at home last weekend against Florida St, it was a series that was imminently winnable.  Only 3 outs away from a win on Sunday, an error by Jonny Ash, a walk by Kodiak Quick, and then a HR hit by FSU? Tony McQuade ruined the hope of winning two of three against one of the best teams in the country.  It was a very hard weekend for Stanford.  Offensively, the team could muster only 5 runs in the first two days and when Stanford did turn it around offensively on Sunday, the hitting disappeared at the most inopportune times.
 
Still, with the lack of hitting on Friday and Saturday and the inability to stop FSU on Sunday, many positives can be found for the Cardinal.  Tobin Swope? 9-16 performance was outstanding.  It seemed that every time the Cardinal needed a big hit, their senior shortstop delievered, including his game-winner on Friday.  Ryan Garko? 2 hits on Saturday broke him out of an 0-14 slump and his mammoth HR on Sunday was a positive sign for Garko, who came into the game with only 1 extra base hit.  Plus, the Cardinal certainly saw some great things from their bullpen.  Even though he took the loss on Sunday, David OHagan? 8 K in 3.2 innings was incredible.  OHagan? two breaking pitches plus a mid to high 80s fastball was extremely effective against FSU.  Billy Paganetti pitched 3.1 innings of no hit baseball in his first appearance, and Mark Romanczuk dealt for the second consecutive outing, throwing 3 innings of no hit ball in relief of John Hudgins on Friday, picking up the win.
 
While it may go relatively unnoticed, the performance of John Hudgins in a no-decision on Friday may be the best thing that happened all weekend for Stanford.  Hudgins was nearly perfect.  While giving up a run in the first on an infield single, a SB, and a bloop hit, Hudgins controlled the rest of the game, striking out 10 and giving up only three more hits.  Friday night? game was very reminiscent of a Jeremy Guthrie type performance- that is to say, utterly dominating.  If Hudgins can continue to give that kind of effort from week to week, Stanford? will be able to compete and beat the best teams in the country.
 
If recent history is any indicator, the Cardinal should rebound this week.  Stanford has won six of the last eight against Fresno St., all at Beiden Field.  The Cardinal, despite last weekend? series loss, are still a very tough team at home, having won 31 of 37.
 

Probable Starting Lineup:

    * Ryan Garko

    2003:  .333 (11-33), 1 HR, 6 RBI  Last Series:  5-12, HR, 4 RBI.
    Garko didn? hit in the final two games of the Fullerton series and the first game of the FSU series, but turned it around after and 0-14 slump with 2 hits on Saturday and then a big game on Sunday:  3-4, HR, 4 RBI.  He got every bit of a home run on Sunday that put the Cardinal up 8-5, blasting it well over the LF fence.  Expect big things out of Garko after his turnaround at the plate.

 
    * 1B  John Mayberry, Jr. 

    2003:  .222 (8-36), 1 HR, 3 RBI  Last Series:  2-15, 3 K
    The last two weeks have been humbling for Mayberry, who has only 3 hits after homering in the middle game of the Cal St. Fullerton series.  He did manage a huge hit for Stanford on Friday:  singling to left with 2 outs in the 12th, stealing 2B, and coming home on Swope? game winner.  He might be struggling but he will remain in the lineup indefinitely.

 
    * 2B  Jonny Ash

    2003:  .125 (3-24), 0 HR, 2 RBI.  Last Series:  1-8, 3B.
    A very rough start for Ash.  Not only does he have only 3 hits (2 of them 3B), but he made two errors on Sunday, one of which came around to haunt Stanford, as the runner scored on McQuade? HR.  Ash sat down on Saturday in favor of Chris Lewis.
 
    Or
 
    * 2B  Chris Lewis

    2003:  .167 (1-6), 1 RBI  Last Series:  1-5, RBI.
    Lewis started in place of Ash on Saturday against lefty Matt Lynch.  Fresno St. might start 3 RHP, but Lewis might play anyway.  The freshman from Irvine was the #42 prospect in the nation last season.

 
    * SS  Tobin Swope

    2003:  .389 (14-36), 0 HR, 3 RBI.  Last Series:  9-16, 9 1B.
    Great weekend for Swope, going 9-16 with the game winning hit on Friday.  Didn? necessarily hit the ball hard every time up, but found the right spots for hits.  Hitting in the #7 spot may have taken some pressure off of him; he hit in the leadoff spot in the first 3 games of the year.
 

    * 3B  Brian Hall

    2003:  .382 (13-34), 1 HR, 3 RBI.  Last Series:  4-15, 2 2B.
    Hall had three of his 4 hits of the weekend on Friday.  After Friday night? game his average was up around .500, but cooled off a bit on Saturday and Sunday, taking his first 0-fer on Saturday.  He has hit in 7 of the 8 games, however.  Picked off of 1B by C Tony Richie to end Sunday? game although the consensus was that Gus Rodriguez? call could have gone the other way quite easily.
 

    * LF  Danny Putnam

    2003:  .375 (12-32), 2 HR, 3 RBI.  Last Series:  4-14.
    Putnam had hits on all three games this weekend including an extra base hit for Stanford on Sunday.  Has put up nice numbers so far this season, with six extra-base hits.  Solid start for the sophomore.
 

    * CF  Sam Fuld

    2003:  .222 (8-36), 1 HR, 2 RBI.  Last Series:  4-14, RBI.
    Fuld had a hit in each of the games last weekend to extend his hit streak to five.  However, he hasn? put up the numbers yet after starting 0-14.  Was on base 5 of 7 times on Sunday, scoring two runs.  Career average is .358.
 

    * RF  Carlos Quentin

    2003:  .346 (9-26), 0 HR, 2 RBI.  Last Series:  2-11, 2 RBI.
    He is hitting .346, but more indicative of his performance is .526, which is his OBP.  Quentin has walked 9 times and been hit 2 times, definitely having been pitched around so far this year.  Two RBI on Sunday were his first two of the year.  3 run HR off Fresno St. started his career- hopefully he can launch a long ball this weekend.
 

    * DH  Donny Lucy

    2003:  .100 (2-20), 0 HR, 1 RBI.  Last Series:  0-4, 3 K.
    Lucy? is an a horrible slump, no way about it.  0 for his last 12 with 11 K.  Snapped a string of 11 straight Ks when he grounded out on Sunday.  Will Marquess stick with him?  Possibly- Lucy is going to turn it around at some point, he is just too good, plus he is great defensively.
 
    Or
 
    * DH  Jed Lowrie

    2003:  .167 (2-12), 2 2B.  Last Series:  2-8, 2B.
    Lowrie? first two hits have been doubles, including a huge 2B on Friday to lead off the 7th.  He would be scored on Sam Fuld? 2B, tying the game at 1.  A good bet to start at least one game, perhaps all 3.
 

Probable Rotation:

    * Fri:  John Hudgins

    2003:  1-0, 2.57 ERA, 3 GS, 21.0 IP, 1 BB, 19 K.
    Last Outing:  ND vs. Florida St., 9.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 0 BB, 10 K.
    2002:  10-1, 4.71 ERA, 105 IP, 62 K.
    The Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week dominated Florida St. in a no-decision.  He continues to showcase great command:  1 BB in 21 innings is incredible.  10 K last weekend was a career high.  Each of his outings has been solid:  a win in 6 innings against Santa Clara, a no decision giving up 3 in 6 innings vs. Cal St. Fullerton, and his masterpiece against Florida St.  Hudgins hopefully can take up the title of ace this season, one that has been held by some great pitchers lately:  Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Young, and Jeff Austin.
 

    * Sat:  Tim Cunningham

    2003:  1-2, 4.20 ERA, 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 11 BB, 12 K.
    Last Outing:  L vs. Florida St., 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R/2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K.
    2002:  10-3, 4.26 ERA, 112 IP, 67 K.
    Looking at Cunningham? numbers for his start last weekend, you may wonder why Coach Marquess pulled him.  Well, he was at 66 pitches through 3.2 IP, but walked three batters in the 4th, the inning he was removed.  Plus, he threw only 3 strikes out of 17 pitches in that inning.  Cunningham hasn? found the form that he has owned at times at Stanford.  When he is on, he dominates with grounders.  That hasn? been there yet.  Great outing vs. Fresno St. last season- 7.2 IP, 3 R, 0 ER.
 

    * Sun:  Ryan McCally

    2003:  0-1, 4.85 ERA, 3 G, 2 GS, 1 S, 13.0 IP, 2 BB, 8 K.
    Last Outing:  ND vs. Florida St., 4.1 IP, 3 R/ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
    2002:  4-3, 3.53, 25 A, 1 GS.
    Much like Cunningham, the final inning that McCally pitched was his downfall.  He cruised through 4 innings, facing the minimum and throwing only 38 pitches.  However, his 5th inning went like this:  1B, 1B, BB, 1B, 1B, FC (bunt attempt).  He uncharacteristically fell behind hitters in the inning and looked to just hit a wall.  Still, looked brilliant through the first 4 and may hang onto the starting role.

    Or

    * Sun:  Mark Romanczuk

    2003:  1-0, 2 G, 0 GS, 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K.
    Last Outing:  W vs. Florida St. (relief), 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
    Romanczuk has been amazing in his first two appearances, living up to the hype he came to school with after being drafted in the 5th round.  He relieved Hudgins on Friday evening and threw 3 no hit innings, working out of trouble in the 11th and 12th, striking out 4.  The only question:  will Marquess start his young lefty, with the memory of Mark Jecmen? early season struggles in 2002 fresh in his mind, or will Romanczuk continue to be first out of the bullpen (and the only lefty arm)?  We will probably find out on Friday- whoever is first out of the bullpen will give us the clue to who starts on Sunday.

 
    * Bullpen:  McCally or Romanczuk, RHP Mark Jecmen, RHP Drew Ehrlich, RHP Kodiak Quick, RHP Matt Manship, RHP David OHagan, RHP Jonny Dyer, RHP Billy Paganetti.
 
 

FRESNO ST.

After 34 years at Fresno St., Head Coach Bob Bennett has retired and gives way to Mike Batesole, Cal St. Northridge? Head Coach the previous 7 years.  Batesole is a proven winner, having taken CSN to the Big West Title in 2002, and one game away from the CWS in 1996.  He inherits a very young team that sees many of the familiar faces that Cardinal fans are used to seeing in a Bulldog uniform departed.  Most notably, 1st Round draft pick Ben Fritz, a two way player at catcher and on the mound, leaves after being named the WAC pitcher of the year:  9-4, 3.25 ERA.  Bob Runyon and Zach Minor, two senior RHP are also gone.
 
In their place is a very young team, led by 3B Casey McGehee, 1B Brian Pierce and SS Chris Patrick.   McGehee played every game at 3B last year and led the team with a .367 average, including hits in 31 consecutive games.  Pierce hit 9 HR for FSU last year and Chris Patrick started every game at SS last season, hitting leadoff and posting a .300 batting average.
 
On the field in 2003, the Bulldogs have played 4 games, and frankly haven? hit the ball.  Of course, Cal St. Fullerton invaded Beiden Field last weekend and shut down Fresno St.  After winning at 1-0 opener at UC Irvine, Fresno St. was swept at home by the Titans, scoring only 5 runs in the entire series.  On Friday, Wes Littleton threw a 1 hit, 77 pitch shutout, striking out 7 as CSF defeated FSU 12-0.  Against three Titan pitches on Saturday, Fresno St. managed only 6 hits and 1 run, before coming close to beating the Titans on Sunday, tied at 4 in the 9th, but losing 10-4.  Fresno St.? only announced starter, Cody Smith, started on Sunday and will again start on Sunday for the Bulldogs.  While they are off to a slow start, the WAC coaches picked FSU to finish 2nd in the conference behind Rice, so certainly they are respected within their conference, and cannot be treated lightly this weekend, especially by the Cardinal who have struggled in their own right.
 

Key Losses:

    * RHP/C Ben Fritz:  Pretty tough to replace a guy who was the WAC pitcher of the year and led the team with 10 HR and 54 RBI.  Played in every game, either on the mound or behind the plate.
    * RHP Bob Runyon:  2nd starter for the Bulldogs went 10-8 in 19 starts and threw 142+ innings on the mound.
    * RF Tobey Riday-White:  Everyday RF for FSU hit .271 with 7 HR.
 

Key Returners:

    * 3B Casey McGehee
    * SS Chris Patrick
    * CF Joey Myers
    * 1B Brian Pierce
 

Probable Starting Lineup:

    * Brandon Marcelli (Jr., R/R. 6?? 200)

    2003:  0-10, 5 K  2002:  College of the Sequoias- .333, 7 HR, 34 RBI.
    Marcelli is still looking for his first hit in a Bulldog uniform and has really struggled offensively.  Has played in 3 of 4 games:  his replacement last Saturday, Ryan Rothford, went 0-4.
 

    * 1B  Brian Pierce (Sr., L/R, 6?? 200)

    2003:  3-12, HR, RBI  2002:  .270, 9 HR, 28 RBI.
    Pierce? 9 HR were second on the team in 2002 to Ben Fritz and he hit his first HR of the year on Sunday against CSF.  Good in the field- no errors all of 2002.
 

    * 2B  Ryan Haag (Sr., L/R, 5?0? 175)

    2003:  4-13, 2B, 3 BB..  2002:  Cal St. Northridge:  .345, 3 HR, 37 RBI
    Mike Batesole brought Haag north to Fresno and has replaced Scott Beshears as the starting 2B.  His four hits lead the team.  Haag is a serious player- he hit .345 for the Big West Champions and was a first team All-Big West selection.  Moves to 2B after starting at 3B for the Matadors last season.
 

    * SS  Chris Patrick (So., R/R,  5?0? 175)

    2003:  4-15, RBI.   2002:  .300, 5 HR, 32 RBI.
    Patrick started all 59 of the Bulldogs?games at SS last year and will return at that position for his sophomore year.  Put up solid offensive numbers last year, including a great performance against the Cardinal:  6-13 and his first career HR.
 

    * 3B  Casey McGehee (Jr., R/R, 6?? 190)

    2003:  4-14, 2B, 2 RBI.  2002:  .300, 8 HR, 49 RBI.
    The best returner for the Bulldogs, McGehee garnered team MVP honors last year along with Ben Fritz for his outstanding season.  The highlight of the year for McGehee was a 31 game hit streak in which he hit .400, the second longest hit streak in FSU history.  A first team All-WAC member.
 

    * LF  Scott Beshears (Sr.., S/R, 5?? 175)

    2003:  1-7.  2002: .290, 2 HR, 12 RBI.
    Beshears started at 2B last season but the transfer of Ryan Haag moves him to LF.  His .290 average last year was good for 3rd on the team.
 

    * CF Joey Myers (Sr., S/R, 5?0? 187)

    2003:  2-11, 4 K..  2002:  .264, 6 HR, 24 RBI.
    Not a huge bat, but Myers is a good defensive CF, making only 1 error last season.  He started 49 games last year for Bob Bennett, and is a Preseason All-WAC member.
 

    * RF  Cody Smith (Jr., R/R, 6?? 200)

    2003:  0-8, 5 K.  2002:  Allan Hancock College- .320, 6 HR, 31 RBI.
    Another transfer for Batesole, Smith will get the start on the mound on Sunday.  He has struggled with the bat the season, hitless in 8 AB with 5 K.
 

    * DH  Kyle Atrat (So., L/R, 6?? 215)

    2003:  1-9.  2002:  .250, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
    No one has really been lighting it up offensively and Batesole has rotated players at the DH spot so far this season.  Atrat is 3-18 in his career.
 

Probable Rotation:* (Note:  I admit to a bit of conjecture in this area.  Smith is the announced starter for Sunday, but the other two are TBA).

    * Fri:  RHP  Brian Wolfenbarger (Jr., 6?? 205)

    2003:  0-1, 9.45 ERA, 2 G, 1 GS, 6.2 IP, 0 BB, 5 K.
    Last Outing:  vs. CSF, L, 4.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R/7ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
    Wolfenbarger got ripped against the Titans but may get another shot against Stanford on Friday.  He is a JC Transfer from Los Medanos College where he was first team All-League.
 

    * Sat:  LHP Donnie Bair (Sr., 6?? 215)

    2003:  0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1 G, 0 GS, 3.0 IP, 1 R/ER, 0 BB, 1 K.
    Last Outing:  vs. CSF (relief), 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R
    Bair threw well in relief during the Saturday game which may be enough to earn him a start this weekend.  He is a transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette who went 1-1 with a 6.65 ERA last season.  Twin brother David is also on the team.
 

    * Sun:  RHP Cody Smith (Jr., 6?? 200)

    2003:  0-0, 2.25 ERA, 2 GS, 8.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R/2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K.
    Last Outing:  vs. CSF, ND, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R/2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K.
    Smith has been the most effective pitcher this season for FSU, starting against UC Irvine giving up 0 runs on 2 hits, and then pitching 5 innings relatively effectively against CSF.  The only announced starter for FSU so far.

    * Bullpen: RHP  Chad Edwards (2 G, 1 S, 0-0, 27.00 ERA, 3 saves in 2002),  LHP  David Bair (1 G, 1.1 IP, 1 R, 17 appearances in 2002),  RHP  Toby Girazan (1 G, 3.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H)
 

The Last Time:

2/18/02            Stanford 8, Fresno St. 3
                        Played on Monday after a rainout on Sunday, the Cardinal hit 3 HR (Topham, Lucy, and Quentin) and Tim Cunningham was excellent:  7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R.

2/16/02            Fresno St. 7, Stanford 5
                        Stanford trailed from the beginning as Mark Jecmen gave up 4 runs in just over 2 innings.  Drew Ehrlich pitched well for Stanford, giving up 3 runs in 6  innings of relief.  Ben Fritz had a HR and 2 RBI for Fresno St.
 
2/15/02            Stanford 6, Fresno St. 2
                        The Cardinal pieced together 6 runs which was more than enough for Jeremy  Guthrie, who gave up 2 runs on 9 hits.


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