Cal Baseball Preview

Stanford versus Cal at Maples on Saturday isn't the only matchup between the rivals on campus this weekend. Over at Sunken Diamond, it will be a very talented Golden Bears team taking on the 7th ranked Stanford Cardinal in a three-game, non-conference series. Read on for a complete preview.

California (11-5) at #7 Stanford (11-7)


Friday - 6:00pm
Saturday - 1:00pm
Sunday - 1:00pm

All games played at Sunken Diamond


It's another big series out at Sunken Diamond as the California Golden Bears come to town to take on the 7th ranked Stanford Cardinal in a three-game, non-conference series.  The Cardinal are coming off consecutive series wins over nationally ranked Texas and USC and appeared to have put their early-season struggles behind them.  Meanwhile, the Bears haven't played in ten days as their last weekend series (Feb. 21-23) saw them drop 2-of-3 at Long Beach State.  Cal's scheduled series last weekend at Oklahoma State was cancelled due to snow in the Stillwater area.

This series is big for many reasons.  For the Cardinal, they want to keep the momentum going into the Pac-10 season as after this weekend's games, Stanford will take 12 days off for final exams and then will next play at Arizona State (March 22-24) in their conference opener.  A series win this weekend would also fall under the "quality series win" category which would be Stanford's third of the non-conference season.  That would look very good to the NCAA Tournament selection committee come late May.  For the Bears, this weekend's games are big as they look to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years.  Cal brings an impressive 11-5 record into this series and have held their own against the "big boys" on their schedule with a single win over nationally ranked Nebraska in a tournament and they also played #8 Long Beach tough down south a couple of weeks ago when they dropped 2-of-3.  A series win over the Cardinal this weekend would almost certainly get them into the top 25 but more importantly would look great on their season resume.  


STANFORD

The Cardinal, winners of eight of their last ten games, are riding high after their series win over USC last weekend.  After a difficult 13-4 loss in the opener that saw Stanford commit six errors, the Cardinal exploded for 28 runs over the final two games against USC in posting 10-6 and 18-4 victories.  After a slow start, the hitting has picked up which goes back to the impressive doubleheader sweep of Texas last weekend.  It doesn't get much easier for Stanford though as Cal beings a sub-4.00 team ERA into Sunken Diamond this weekend and have one of the top pitchers in the conference going for them on Friday night.

Probable Starting Lineup:
C - Ryan Garko (.319, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB)
1B - John Mayberry, Jr. (.355, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB)
2B - Chris Lewis (.189, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB)
3B - Jed Lowrie (.271, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB)
SS - Tobin Swope (.338, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB)
LF - Brian Hall (.297, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 6 SB)
CF - Sam Fuld (.266, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB)
RF - Carlos Quentin (.365, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB)
DH - Danny Putnam (.397, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 0 SB)

Player Notes: Garko has been an RBI machine this year with 22 in 18 games including seven last weekend vs. USC ... Mayberry, Jr. brings an 11-game hitting streak into this weekend and he also leads the team with four triples ... Lewis had just one hit in the SC series before homering in his last at-bat on Sunday, his first career homer ... Lowrie struggled mightily last weekend going 0-for-11 and is hitless in his last 17 AB's ... Hall and Fuld have picked things up at the top of the order as they combined for 11 hits over the final two games last weekend ... Quentin is still without a homer this season but has a team-high six doubles, 16 walks, and is second on the club in hitting ... Putnam leads the team in hitting and is coming off the best game of his career when he went 3-for-4 with two homers and seven RBI on Sunday ... Putnam was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his effort against USC.

Probable Starting Rotation:
Fri - John Hudgins (RHP; 3-1, 3.64 ERA, 42 IP, 4 BB, 42 SO)
Sat - Ryan McCally (RHP; 2-1, 3.97 ERA, 34 IP, 8 BB, 21 SO)
Sun - TBA

Pitching Notes: Hudgins was roughed up for the first time all season last weekend when the Trojans touched him up for eight runs (six earned) in six innings pitched ... Hudgins still boasts an amazing 10.5-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio ... McCally has settled into his role as a starting pitcher as he fired 7 2/3 quality innings last Saturday giving up three earned runs ... Like Hudgins, McCally has excellent control as he's only issued eight free passes all season ... Sunday officially listed as TBA ... Freshman Mark Romanczuk (4-0, 3.86) made his first career start last Sunday and threw six innings while giving up four runs to pick up his fourth win of the year ... Key relievers for the Cardinal include Matt Manship (0-1, 3.46 ERA, 3 SV), Drew Ehrlich (0-0, 2.57 ERA), David O'Hagan (1-1, 4.63 ERA, 1 SV), and Kodiak Quick (0-0, 10.00 ERA).


CALIFORNIA

Former Stanford player and coach David Esquer brings his California Golden Bears into Sunken Diamond this weekend with an 11-5 overall record.  Esquer, if you recall, was the starting shortstop on Stanford's 1987 National Championship team and was an assistant coach under Marquess from 1991-1996.  He's in his fourth year as the head man in Berkeley and sports a career record of 99-85 and one NCAA Tournament appearance (2001).  This year's Bears team opened up the year by losing 2-of-3 at home to Mountain West favorite UNLV but rebounded by sweeping WCC favorite Loyola Marymount in Berkeley the following weekend.  Cal then traveled to Round Rock, Texas to play in a round-robin tournament and went 2-1 with wins over UT-Pan American and Nebraska, but a loss to SW Texas State.  They then traveled to SoCal and lost 2-of-3 to #8 Long Beach State.  In terms of common opponents with Stanford, the Bears have played one game at Santa Clara and defeated the Broncos 7-5 on a Tuesday night.  Cal was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 this season.

Probable Starting Lineup:
C - Chris Grossman (.340, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB)
1B - James Holder (.321, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB)
2B - David Nicholson (.258, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 7 SB)
3B - Jeff Dragicevich (.178, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB)
SS - Allen Craig (.333, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB)
LF - Justin Nelson (.179, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 SB)
CF - Jeremy Burchett (.319, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB)
RF - Brian Horwitz (.358, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB)
DH - Conor Jackson (.423, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB)

Player Notes: Conor Jackson is the name to watch this weekend ... Jackson hit .382 with 16 homers last season, played for the USA National Team, is a preseason All-American, and has a shot to be a first round pick in this June's draft ... He missed seven games earlier this year with an ankle injury and has been starting at DH since his return although he may see action at his normal position of third base this weekend ... Jackson hits fourth in the order ... Other big boppers in the Cal lineup are #3 hitter Brian Horwitz and #5 hitter Chris Grossman ... Horwitz leads the team with five homers and 23 RBI in just 16 games while Grossman is currently hitting .340 with a couple of homers ... Dangerous top of the lineup for Cal with David Nicholson hitting leadoff and freshman Allen Craig batting second ... Nicholson hit over .300 last season as a freshman but is in a major slump right now with just two hits in his last 30 AB's ... Craig plays shortstop and is just a freshman ... He's hitting well above .300 and began his career with a 12-game hitting streak ... A key to the series for Stanford is keeping those two guys off base as they have lots of speed, make a lot of things happen, and you want as few people as possible on base when Horwitz and Jackson are at the plate.

Probable Starting Rotation:
Fri - Matt Brown (RHP; 1-1, 5.09 ERA, 23 IP, 8 BB, 15 SO)
Sat - Brian Montalbo (RHP; 2-0, 4.86 ERA, 16.2 IP, 10 BB, 11 SO)
Sun - TBA

Pitching Notes: Brown is expected to be one of the top pitchers in the conference this year ... He was an All-Star in the Cape Cod League last summer and is a third team Preseason All-American according to Baseball America ... Brown should be drafted in the early rounds this June ... He started the year slow giving up at least four runs in his first three starts, but dominated in his last start at Long Beach State giving up just one run (it was unearned) in seven innings of work ... Expect a low-scoring game on Friday with Brown going up against Hudgins ... Brian Montalbo is scheduled to start on Saturday ... Like Brown, Montalbo is a junior and has been up-and-down this year ... His best start of the year came last time out against LBSU when he threw a career high 8 1/3 innings while giving up three runs ... Sunday officially listed as TBA but expect either sophomore righty Kyle Crist (0-0, 1.72) or sophomore righthander Joe Todoroff (3-0, 2.78) to get the call ... Crist started on the Sunday versus Long Beach and went six shutout innings giving up just two hits ... In the bullpen, Jesse Ingram is the main man for the Bears ... Ingram has thrown in nine of Cal's 16 games this season and has a 3.14 ERA and three saves ... He does have some control issues though with 10 walks in just 14 1/3 innings.


LAST SEASON

The teams met six times last year with Stanford taking 5-of-6 games.  They played a non-conference series in Berkeley in early March with the Cardinal taking 2-of-3 (W 15-4, L 1-2, W 4-2) while they met up again in early May at Sunken in a Pac-10 series with Stanford winning all three of those games (8-4, 13-6, 8-5).  Jeremy Guthrie picked up the win in both Friday games while John Hudgins got the W in both Sunday contests.  Carlos Quentin has put up the best career numbers versus Cal with a .372 average and three homers in 43 at-bats.


MEDIA COVERAGE

The games on Friday and Saturday can be heard on KZSU 90.1 FM and on the internet at kzsulive.stanford.edu.  Sunday's game is tentatively scheduled to start on the air at 90.1 and then move to internet only once the women's basketball game starts.  Chad Goldberg and Nick Kapur will call all the action.


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