College Baseball Roundup

The Stanford Cardinal baseball team is winning again. After dropping 5-of-6 to Cal State Fullerton and Florida State, Stanford has since won 6-of-7 including a huge series win at Texas last weekend. This week's Roundup takes an in-depth at that series, has all the latest from around the Pac-10, as well as an updated "Super Sixteen" national poll.

Pac-10 Standings (overall records) :

Arizona State     21-1
California        10-5
Arizona            8-4

Stanford           9-6

Oregon State       5-5
UCLA               7-8
USC                5-6

Washington         4-5
Washington State   1-8

The highlight of the weekend for the conference was no question the Stanford series win at Texas.  The Cardinal needed a big series win after posting a 1-5 record against national powers Cal State Fullerton and Florida State, and that's exactly what they got.  Elsewhere in the Pac-10 last weekend, USC took one on the chin when they were swept by the #9 Baylor Bears in Waco.  Three very close games but they all went the Bears way and all of a sudden the Trojans have fallen below .500.  Arizona continued to play well as they took 2-of-3 at home versus Minnesota (if you recall, the Wildcats played Baylor very tight at Tucson a few weeks ago but dropped 2-of-3). We'll find out what the Cats are made of in the next two weeks as they host a talented Texas A&M ballclub this weekend and then travel to Austin to play the Longhorns the following weekend.  The scoring machine that is the Arizona State Sun Devils rolled on as the Sun Devils notched two impressive wins over Notre Dame last weekend by a combined score of 30-11 to cap a 4-0 week.  ASU is in the midst of a 19-game homestand and with Penn State coming to town this weekend there's no reason to think the winning won't stop.  The Cal Bears played nationally ranked Long Beach State tough down south but only managed one win.  UCLA, Washington, and Oregon State continue to hover at or just below .500 as neither has been very impressive thus far.  The Huskies were a team that many thought would finish in the top half of the conference this season but have fallen on hard times as they dropped 2-of-3 at home last weekend to a Gonzaga team that hadn't won a game all season prior to that trip to Seattle.  The Zags two wins came by scores of 13-2 and 16-1.  Ouch!  Washington State finally recorded a win last weekend but still lost 2-of-3 at San Jose State.

This weekend in the Pac-10, the big series will be at Sunken Diamond when the Cardinal host the Trojans in a three-game non-conference series.  As mentioned above, Arizona takes on a marquee name in Texas A&M.  Cal travels to Big 12 country for a three-game set against a good, but not great, Oklahoma State club.  A series win for the Bears this weekend should help mightily in their quest to reach the NCAA Tournament.  And UCLA is in line to get blasted this weekend as they head south to play in Cal State Fullerton's round-robin tournament with single games against the Titans, the Texas Longhorns, and the Tulane Green Wave.

Texas Series Notes :

A great weekend for the Cardinal as they go into Austin and take 2-of-3 games from the defending champs.  John Hudgins continues to solidify his role as the #1 starter with another quality outing.  He was given a big early lead and used it to perfection firing nothing but strikes to improve his record to 3-0.  In the second game, Ryan McCally rolled through the first four innings giving up just one run but struggled in the fifth and was removed from the game.  This has been a bit of a recurring theme with McCally this year as with the exception of his dominating outing against Fresno State, Ryan has hit a wall in either the fifth or sixth inning.  If that continues, one wonders if Coach Marquess will move him back to the closer's role and insert either Mark Romanczuk or Matt Manship into the #3 spot.  Looking at the numbers, McCally's ERA in the first four innings of his outings (includes his three-inning relief stint against Santa Clara) is an impressive 1.42.  His ERA in the fifth inning and beyond is 10.57. Obviously, McCally isn't going anywhere until Cunningham returns from his injury, but it's something to look out for.  Freshmen Mark Romanczuk and Matt Manship both saw action in the second game of the twin bill with mixed results.  Romanczuk finally gave up an earned run (four total against the Longhorns), but battled through three innings to get the win to improve his record to 3-0.  Manship struggled with the first couple batters he faced but it turned it around in a hurry (and just in time) to notch his second save.  In that game, Manship retired the Longhorns' #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6 hitters in order to end the game.  Very impressive.  Coach Marquess had to go pitching by committee in the series finale and everything was going all right until the seventh inning.  A combination of Jonny Dyer, Drew Ehrlich, and Kodiak Quick held the Texas hitters to just three runs through the first six frames, until the Longhorns erupted for four tallies against Quick and Jecmen in the seventh.  Quick once again was lights-out in his first inning or two of relief, but struggled as he went through the order a second time.  It happened the Sunday versus Florida State when he dealt for two innings before giving up the big three-run homer in the ninth.  Same thing against Nevada when he fired two scoreless inning before surrendering the tying home run in the top of the eighth.  At this point, he's seems to be most successful in short outings (see the big strikeout against Fresno and the great success he's had in the first two innings or so of his extended relief outings).  That's another thing to look out for.  One final pitching thought is on Mark Jecmen.  Just the fact that Jonny Dyer started over the towering sophomore right hander is a sign he's struggling right now.  He didn't do anything to help his cause when he allowed two of Quick's runners to score and than gave up a run of his own as Texas blew the game open in the seventh.  It's clear he's behind the three frosh on the pitching depth chart right now and if he doesn't get things going soon, he won't be seeing much time at all in big spots come conference play.

The hitting was outstanding the first two games of the series especially when you consider Texas has one of the top pitching staffs in the country.  The Cardinal scored 19 runs on 28 hits over the first two games which included beating UT ace starter Justin Simmons who went 16-1 last season.  Carlos Quentin may not be hitting homers but he's doing everything else.  An 8-for-12 series that included four doubles raised his average to .370 on the season. John Mayberry, Jr. is also swinging it well as he went 6-for-15 last weekend and now has an eight-game hitting streak.  Six starters are hitting at .300 or above but two of the three that aren't is a little concerning.  After a real hot start, Brian Hall has really tailed off with just five hits in his last 37 AB's to drop his average down to .274.  Sam Fuld has had good games here and there but has yet to put together a real hot streak and thus is still hitting below .250.  These two guys need to pick it up as the #1 and #2 hitters in the order because Quentin, Garko, and Mayberry, Jr. are hot and primed for driving in lots of runs.  Outstanding defense all weekend as Stanford didn't commit an error in the three games.  In fact, they've gone errorless in five of their last six contests as the frosh Lowrie and Lewis continue to play well.

"Super Sixteen" Poll :

                                      Record     Pvs.

1. Florida State        11-1       2
    * Seminoles move up to the #1 spot as Texas falters.  FSU continues to beat up on lesser opponents with a three-game sweep at home vs. Appalachian State.  Another cupcake this weekend when Charleston Southern comes to town.

2. Georgia Tech          6-0       3
    * Jackets with perfect 4-0 week with wins over Mercer, Rider, Michigan, and Armstrong State (who??).

3. Rice                  8-1       4
    * Owls with a great week going 5-0 with quality wins over Houston, Stetson, and Mississippi.  Four of those five W's were shutouts.

4. Cal State Fullerton  11-1       5
    * Titans swept visiting Nevada which included an improbable ninth inning comeback on Friday that saw Fullerton score eight runs to tie the game in which they eventually won in the 14th.

5. Arizona State        21-1       7
    * Sun Devils showing they may be team to beat in the Pac-10 this season with convincing two-game sweep of Notre Dame (also won 2-of-3 at Long Beach earlier in the season).

6. Texas                12-3       1
    * Longhorns take a tumble after dropping 2-of-3 at home to Stanford.

7. Wake Forest           4-1       6
    * Deacons take two from James Madison in a rain shortened series.

8. Stanford              9-6      10
    * Cardinal move up a few notches after impressive 3-1 week that saw them take a series at Texas.

9. South Carolina        7-1       8
    * Gamecocks are leap-frogged by Stanford but it has more to do by who Stanford beat as opposed to who South Carolina beat (Gamecocks swept Duquesne at home last weekend).

10. Baylor               8-3      NR
    * Bears make first appearance in poll after sweeping away USC in Waco.

11. Long Beach State     8-4      16
    * 49ers win their third straight series from a Pac-10 opponent (2-of-3 from USC and a sweep of WSU prior) as they take 2-of-3 from California.

12. Notre Dame           2-2      11
    * Irish open season with two wins over Dayton and Newman, but then get blasted twice by Arizona State.

13. USC                  5-6       9
    * Trojans drop three straight tough games at Baylor over the weekend (2-1, 9-8, and 3-1).

14. Alabama              4-2      14
    * Tide knock off Centenary in a mid-week game and then split first two games of their series with SE Missouri State (third game today).

15. Richmond             2-0      15
    * Spiders finally get things going with single wins over Drexel and Kentucky.

16. Tulane               8-1      NR
    * 2001 CWS participant Tulane in the poll for the first time after three-game sweep of Pepperdine.

Dropped Out : Clemson (1-2, 1-2 last week), Houston (3-6, 1-2 last week).

Opponents Update :

Cal State Fullerton and Florida State continue to roll as they each sport 11-1 records and top five rankings. Fullerton is hosting their annual round-robin tournament this weekend as they will take on Tulane, Texas, and UCLA in single games in what should be some entertaining baseball.  Fresno State had a nice 3-1 week to improve their record to 4-7.  Keep in mind though that six of those seven losses were at the hands of Fullerton and Stanford and the Bulldogs are a very inexperienced team that should only get better as the season goes on.

Baseball America Poll :

Stanford moved up one spot to #9 in this week's Baseball America poll while Texas dropped from #4 to #6.  Past opponents Florida State and Cal State Fullerton check in at #3 and #5 respectively while future opponent Arizona State is all the way up to #4.  Georgia Tech and Rice still hold onto the top two spots in the poll.  The USC Trojans took a big dive this week falling eight spots down to #16.

Up Next for Stanford :

It's the 9th ranked Cardinal and 16th ranked USC Trojans this weekend in a three-game non-conference series at Sunken Diamond.  Friday's game is scheduled to start at 6:00pm while Saturday and Sunday's contests get going at 1:00pm.  USC currently sits at 5-6 on the year (they play UC Irvine on Tuesday) after getting swept by #8 Baylor last weekend.  The Trojans have also dropped 2-of-3 to #11 Long Beach State in a home-and-home while they swept then-#23 South Alabama at home two weekends ago.  This is a big series for USC as try to notch a big road series win before Pac-10 play starts.  It won't get any easier for the Trojans, who like Stanford plays a very difficult non-conference schedule, as they will take on Cal State Fullerton in 2 1/2 weeks.  USC was the #6 ranked team in BA's preseason poll.  

The Trojans lost Pac-10 Player of the Year Alberto Concepcion and slugging first baseman Bill Peavey but still have all kinds of talent on their team.  1B Joey Metropoulos hit over .350 last season as a freshman and is one of the more dangerous hitters in the conference, if not the entire country.  Veteran infielders Anthony Lunetta and Michael Moon are back and looking to take bigger roles on the team with the losses of Concepcion and Peavey. One new name to keep an eye on is freshman catcher Jeff Clement.  Clement blasted four homers in two games during the South Alabama series and is already hitting in the middle of the batting order.  USC was expected to have a very deep pitching staff this year but that hasn't exactly been the case.  Possible starter J.P. Howell transferred to Texas before the season, possible starter Matt Chico and closer Cory Campos were ruled academically ineligible (Chico has transferred), and quality arm Brett Bannister will miss this series with an injury. In addition, ace pitcher Anthony Reyes didn't play last weekend at Baylor for reasons unknown to me. Chad will have a full series preview in a couple of days.


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