College Baseball Roundup

After a down year in 2002 by Pac-10 baseball standards, the conference appears to be back to being one of the top two or three in the country. This week's Roundup takes you around the Pac-10 after a very successful weekend for the conference, has all the USC series notes plus an updated "Super Sixteen" national poll.

Pac-10 Standings (overall records) :

Arizona State     24-1
Arizona           11-5
California        11-5

Stanford          11-7

UCLA              10-10
Oregon State       7-7
Washington         6-6

USC                7-8
Washington State   3-10

Good weekend for the conference as only USC plays below .500 but that series loss was to fellow Pac-10 team Stanford.  Top Pac-10 honors this weekend go to the UCLA Bruins who travel south to play in Cal State Fullerton's round-robin tournament.  UCLA posted impressive wins over nationally ranked Texas (13-2) and Tulane (12-2) before falling 7-1 to Fullerton (who isn't losing to anyone right now).  Arizona also had a very good weekend as they took 2-of-3 from #24 Texas A&M in Tucson to move their record to 11-5.  The Wildcats seem to be emerging as one of the top half Pac-10 teams this season.  Oregon State and Washington both went 2-1 at the same round-robin tournament in Lancaster.  They each defeated Cal State Northridge and San Diego State, but fell to San Diego and each now sit at .500.  Arizona State continued its 19-game homestand last weekend with an easy sweep of Penn State.  Washington State broke even at 2-2 at a round-robin tourney at Lewis-Clark State. California's three-game series at Oklahoma State was cancelled due to inclement weather in Stillwater.

It's rivalry weekend in the Pac-10 with Stanford hosting California, UCLA hosting USC, and Washington hosting Washington State.  All of those series' will not count in the conference standings.  UCLA-USC should be an interesting matchup to watch as the Trojans try to get back on track and over .500 while the Bruins are riding high after their impressive weekend at Fullerton.  Arizona has a big series as they travel to Austin to play the Texas Longhorns while Arizona State continues to host very average-to-below average teams with four games at home this weekend versus Cal State Northridge, Utah, and Utah State.

USC Series Notes :

Second consecutive series win over a ranked team as the Cardinal take 2-of-3 from USC in a non-conference series at Sunken Diamond.  Very ugly game on Friday night for Stanford as the Card committed six errors leading to seven unearned runs in USC's 13-4 win.  Five of the six errors were made by the trio of freshman infielders who had played so well at Texas defensively the weekend prior (no errors).  To their credit, Lowrie, Lewis, and Mayberry, Jr. did play flawless defense the rest of the weekend.

The hitting appears to have turned the corner as the Cardinal scored a whopping 28 runs over the last two games of the series.  Expected to be the strength of this year's team, the hitting had struggled prior to the Texas series. But 18 runs in the first two games of that series combined with the offensive explosion against USC is a very good sign. On Saturday, Stanford scored six runs in the first inning en route to a 10-6 victory.  Sam Fuld had a breakout game with four hits while Brian Hall broke out of a 5-for-41 slump with a three-hit performance.  On Sunday, the Cardinal scored 18 runs on 16 hits including a season-high five home runs.  Danny Putnam led the way with three hits (two of which were homers) and seven RBI.  John Mayberry, Jr., Brian Hall, and Chris Lewis also blasted home runs as Stanford used a seven-run seventh inning to put the game away.  Mayberry, Jr. had an outstanding series going 7-for-12 with a triple and a homer (both on Sunday) along with five RBI.  He has an 11-game hitting streak and has got his average up to a season-high .355.  Ryan Garko also had a nice weekend with five hits, four of which were doubles. He drove home seven runners and leads the club with 22 RBI in just 18 games.  The top of the order in Hall and Fuld also came through on Saturday and Sunday after each had struggled for much of the early season.  Hall went 5-for-8 with a homer and four RBI while Fuld contributed six hits and scored five runs.  It's a very good sign to see those two guys swinging it well again with the way the middle of the order is playing right now.  The only negative in terms of hitting this weekend was the play of freshmen Chris Lewis and Jed Lowrie.  Lewis was struggling with a 1-for-9 weekend going before homering in the eighth inning on Sunday.  Lowrie didn't even get a hit all weekend going 0-for-11 with seven K's.  He's now hitless in his last 17 at-bats since his 4-for-5 performance in the first game of the Texas doubleheader.  

On the pitching side, John Hudgins had his first rough outing of the season giving up eight runs (six earned) in six innings of work on Friday.  Hudgins gave up a team-leading 17 homers last season but was doing well in that category this season with only one round-tripper given up in his first five starts.  That was until this weekend against USC when the Trojans touched him up for three bombs.  Hopefully just an aberration as Hudgins has easily been Stanford's top starter this season.  Ryan McCally pitched into the late innings on Saturday which was something he had been struggling to accomplish in the early season.  The senior righthander surrendered only three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings of work and appears to have a strong hold on the #2 spot in the rotation until Cunningham comes back.  Freshman Mark Romanczuk made his first career start on Sunday and pitched pretty well with four earned runs allowed in six innings of work.  With all the offense the hitters provided, it was plenty good enough to record his fourth win of the year.  Freshman Matt Manship followed up his stellar relief outing in Texas with an impressive performance in the finale this weekend.  He easily shutout the Trojans over the final three frames while striking out four.  If Romanczuk continues to start with Cunningham out, it would seem Manship will be option #1 out of the bullpen for Coach Marquess.  David O'Hagan and Drew Ehrlich continue to be used in big spots but the same probably can't be said for Mark Jecmen for the time being.  The sophomore struggled once again this weekend as he walked the only two batters he faced on Friday while also throwing a wild pitch.

"Super Sixteen" Poll :

                                      Record     Pvs.

1. Florida State        14-1       1
    * Seminoles remain in the top spot after sweep of Charleston Southern.

2. Georgia Tech          9-0       2
    * Jackets stay perfect with three-game home sweep of George Washington.

3. Rice                 11-1       3
    * Owls also with a sweep last weekend as they knocked off SW Texas State three times.

4. Cal State Fullerton  14-1       4
    * Titans with an impressive 3-0 week with wins over Texas, Tulane, and UCLA.

5. Arizona State        24-1       5
    * Sun Devils with easy home sweep of Penn State ... top 5 teams with a bit of separation from the others in the poll as their combined record stands at 72-4.

6. Stanford             11-7       8
    * Cardinal move up a couple of spots after impressive series win over USC.

7. Baylor               12-3      10
    * Bears continue to roll with a 4-0 week that includes a sweep at UC Irvine.

8. Texas                13-5       6
    * Longhorns continue to drop after posting 1-2 record at Fullerton tournament.

9. South Carolina        8-2       9
    * Gamecocks split a two-game home-and-home series with Clemson.

10. Long Beach State    10-5      11
    * 49ers looking more and more like one of the better teams on the west coast after taking 2-of-3 from LSU last weekend.

11. Nebraska             7-2      NA
    * Cornhuskers in the poll for the first time after a 3-0 weekend that saw them pick up victories over Notre Dame, Wake Forest, and Minnesota.

12. Wake Forest          5-3       7
    * Deacons fail in first test to show they are among nation's elite as they go 1-2 at Minnesota's tourney with losses coming to Nebraska and ND.

13. USC                  7-8      13
    * Trojans stay put after 2-2 week that includes series loss at Stanford.

14. Alabama              8-3      14
    * Tide go 4-1 last week including taking 2-of-3 at home versus Rhode Island.

15. Richmond             3-0      15
    * Spiders have four games washed out last week ... only game was a win over Delaware State.

16. Houston              6-6      NR
    * Cougars back in the poll after three-game sweep of Louisiana-Lafayette ... very tough schedule.

Dropped Out : Notre Dame (3-4, 1-2 last week), Tulane (9-4, 1-3 last week).

Opponents Update :

Florida State and Cal State Fullerton continue to win as each sport impressive 14-1 records.  While Florida State continues to play a bunch of cupcakes, Fullerton is doing it against quality teams as they knocked off ranked teams Texas and Tulane last weekend.  Fullerton will play USC in a home-and-home series the weekend of March 14-16.  Texas had a difficult weekend at the Fullerton tournament going just 1-2 with a humiliating loss to UCLA and a 14-4 pounding at the hands of the Titans.  The Longhorns did rebound to knock off Tulane on Sunday and stand at 13-5 on the year.

Baseball America Poll :

Stanford moved up two spots to #7 in this week's Baseball America poll moving ahead of both Texas and Wake Forest who each lost multiple games last weekend.  The top five remain the same (same five as in my poll, just in a different order) with GT, Rice, FSU, ASU, and CSF.  USC fell two spots to #18 as the Pac-10 still only has three teams ranked.  A series win for Arizona at Texas this weekend should get them ranked with their 11-5 record to this point.

Up Next for Stanford :

The Cardinal host their bay area rival, the California Golden Bears, this weekend at Sunken Diamond.  It's a 6:00pm start on Friday and a 1:00pm first pitch time on Saturday and Sunday.  The Golden Bears were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 this season and have not disappointed as they bring an 11-5 record into this weekend's series.  Cal had their series last weekend at Oklahoma State cancelled because of bad weather and will not have played in ten days (last game was a 7-5 win at Santa Clara on February 25th).  The Bears' early season resume includes a series sweep at home versus Loyola Marymount along with a single win over nationally ranked Nebraska in a tournament.  Cal dropped 2-of-3 games at #8 Long Beach State two weeks ago.

The Bears may feature the top hitter in the conference in third baseman Conor Jackson.  Jackson missed seven games with a sprained ankle earlier this season but is back and playing well.  He's currently hitting .423 with a home run and is a name to watch this weekend.  #1 starter Matt Brown is expected to be drafted very high this June after his dominating summer in the Cape Cod League, but has struggled somewhat this season with a 5.09 ERA in his four starts (he did lose a 1-0 decision at Long Beach State).  A full series preview is coming in a couple of days.  


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