Washington State baseball preview

Tied with UCLA for second in the Pac-10, Stanford (26-18, 10-8 Pac-10) trails first-place Arizona State (41-5, 14-4 Pac-10) by four games with three more Pac-10 series to go. After winning two of three at Long Beach State and one against San Jose State, the Cardinal face Washington State (26-17, 9-9 Pac-10) this weekend for a three-game series at home.

Stanford

After producing only six total runs while getting swept versus Washington two weekends ago, the offense has gotten back on track, averaging 6.33 runs per game while going on a 5-1 non-conference run. The offense is now averaging 6.27 runs per game, good for sixth in the Pac-10.

Stanford is seventh overall in on-base percentage in the Pac-10, led by Jonathan Kaskow (.507), Tyler Gaffney (.431), and Colin Walsh (.430). Kaskow is second in the Pac-10, only behind Arizona State's Zack MacPhee (.510). On-base percentage is a useful statistic because it measures the most important thing a hitter can do when he goes to the plate: not make an out (reaching base by way of a fielding error, fielder's choice, fielder's obstruction, or catcher's interference don't count).

Team OBP
Arizona State.445
Arizona.408
California.405
UCLA.401
Washington State.376
Oregon.374
Stanford.373
Washington.364
Oregon State.364
USC.363

Kenny Diekroeger (.359/.394/.509) leads the team in slugging percentage and continues to play at shortstop. Jake Schlander, who hadn't started in six games before finally seeing a start against San Jose State on Tuesday, continues to struggle at the plate (.246/.354/.355), so expect to see Diekroeger at shortstop for the rest of the season. However, the Cardinal will be sacrificing defense by not putting Schlander in the lineup, as Diekroeger has 12 errors, while Schlander has only seven.

Junior Dave Giuliani has hit well since given the starting job in left field. Overall, he has a line of .309/.345/.491 with two home runs. He's also an exceptional defender in either of the corner outfield positions with a good arm. While he only has two stolen bases in two attempts, he has the quickness to steal on a more frequent basis. However, one of his main weaknesses is that he's not particularly patient at the plate. He has accumulated 14 strikeouts to only three walks.

Stanford has formed a pretty good one-two punch in Brett Mooneyham and Jordan Pries. They are stark contrasts of each other, with Mooneyham being the overpowering lefty who strikes out and walks a lot of batters and Pries being the finesse righty who pitches to contact. Mooneyham (53 walks in 60.1 innings) is a big reason why the Stanford pitching staff leads the conference in walks allowed by a wide margin with 227. The next closest team, USC, has 173, while Arizona State leads the conference with only 117. Interestingly, the Washington State offense has drawn the least number of walks in the conference by a wide margin as well, with only 119. The next closest team is Arizona with 158. So, in an interesting matchup, the extremely aggressive Cougars offense will face the extremely walk-prone Stanford pitching staff.

Washington State

The Cougars come in tied for fifth in the Pac-10 with Arizona. They are currently on a four-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep of California last weekend when the offense scored a total of 33 runs. They're 2-2 in their last four Pac-10 series, including a series win against Arizona State in early April.

The offense is averaging 6.63 runs per game and have a .295 team average, good for fifth in the Pac-10. Infielders Michael Weber and Cody Bartlett are 12th and 15th in the Pac-10 with OPSs of .982 and .949, respectively. In addition, they are best in the league in striking out looking, with only 69.

On the mound, righty Chad Arnold has been the Cougars' best pitcher, accumulating a 3.28 earned-run average in 12 starts. In 79.2 innings, he's allowed 69 hits, struck out 59, and walked 34. His fielding-independent pitching is 3.90, suggesting he's been a little fortunate so far. However, he's only allowed three home runs all year.

Washington State is third-last in the Pac-10 with a 4.66 earned-run average and they've struggled to find consistency from their second and third starting pitchers. Arnold is the only starting pitcher with more than seven starts on the season. Lefties Jordan Stilley and Spencer Jackson, both sophomores, each have seven starts, but have earned-run averages of 6.75 and 5.00, respectively. Their left-handed closer, Adam Conley, has nine saves and 2.68 earned-run average in 40.1 innings. He has started one game this year and could see more action in that role.

Conference Update

The No. 2 Sun Devils will be at Arizona (30-16, 9-9 Pac-10) for a three-game series (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) with a chance to extend their Pac-10 lead. Washington (25-22, 8-10 Pac-10) will play a three-game series at Oregon State (24-18, 7-11 Pac-10), a series the Beavers desperately need. Finally, USC (23-25, 5-13 Pac-10), which is last in the Pac-10, will play a three-game series at UCLA (34-11, 10-8 Pac-10).


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