College Baseball Roundup

The Stanford Cardinal won their fourth consecutive series with their convincing three-game sweep of the Cal Bears last weekend. This week's Roundup takes an in-depth look at the Cal series, has all the latest from around the Pac-10 Conference, as well as an updated "Super Sixteen" national poll.

Pac-10 Standings (overall records) :

Arizona State     28-1
Stanford          14-7
Arizona           12-7
Washington         9-6
California        11-8

Oregon State       8-7

UCLA              12-12

USC                9-10
Washington State   3-13

It was rivalry weekend in the conference last weekend with Stanford hosting Cal, UCLA hosting USC, and Washington taking on Washington in three-game, non-conference series'.  The Cardinal continue to roll with a convincing sweep of California as they've now won seven in a row over the Bears.  The Huskies swept the lowly Cougars in Seattle to move three games over .500 while the surprise of the weekend had the Bruins taking 2-of-3 from the Trojans including a 17-5 rout of USC in the rubber game on Sunday.  That's two consecutive outstanding weekends in a row for UCLA as they went 2-1 at Fullerton's tournament two weeks ago (with wins over Texas and Tulane).  Meanwhile, the Trojans continue to reel as they've now dropped four series' this season and are below .500.  Granted, this team has been hurt by various injuries to some of their better pitchers, but the Trojans don't have the look at all of a team capable of challenging for the Pac-10 title.  It's still very early though and if #1 starter Anthony Reyes plus key relievers Brett Bannister and Jon Williams can get back in there soon, don't count out USC come April and May.  In other non-conference action, Arizona lost 2-of-3 at Texas in three hard fought ballgames.  Despite the series loss, I'm still convinced Arizona will be one of the better teams in the conference this season.  The red hot Sun Devils had another perfect week going 4-0 with wins over Cal State Northridge, Utah, and Southern Utah.

The big series this upcoming weekend pits the Cal State Fullerton Titans against the USC Trojans in a home-and-home series down south.  USC is in dire need of some wins, but should be hard pressed to find any this weekend.  Arizona State also has a big series as they welcome Oklahoma to Tempe for a three-game set.  The Sooners aren't ranked, but at least it's better competition for ASU.  Cal tries to get back on track with a three-game series at home versus struggling UC Irvine.  Arizona takes a break from their difficult schedule with a home series against Wagner.  Oregon State has a two-game, midweek, non-conference series with Washington and then the Beavers turn around and play Washington State twice in non-conference action.  Stanford and UCLA are both idle this weekend as those schools are taking final exams.  Pac-10 Conference play starts the weekend of March 21-23.


Cal Series Notes :

The Cardinal are on a roll as they captured their fourth straight series win with a sweep of the Golden Bears last weekend at Sunken Diamond.  Friday's and Sunday's games were routs with Stanford winning by 11-2 scores both days while Saturday was fairly competitive in the Cardinal's 9-4 win.  During the weekend, the Cardinal scored 31 runs on 43 hits and have now scored a whopping 59 runs in their last five games (all wins).  On Sunday, Stanford rapped out a season-high 20 hits as seven different players had multi-hit games.

Individually, it's tough to find places where the Cardinal can get any better in terms of their hitting.  The top of the order had been a weakness the first month of the year with Sam Fuld and Brian Hall struggling with averages well below .300.  I pointed out before the USC series that those two needed to get going as the middle-of-the-order guys were hot and needed chances to drive in runs.  Well, Fuld and Hall have certainly stepped it up as in their last five games Fuld has gone 12-for-22 (.545) with nine runs scored while Hall has gone 10-for-21 (.476) with eight runs scored.  Because of these guys getting on base, Quentin, Garko, Putnam, and Mayberry, Jr. have racked up lots of RBI's in the last two weeks.  Quentin finally hit his first homer of the year when he went yard on Sunday.  Carlos now leads the team with a .378 batting average and an amazing .515 on-base percentage.  Garko continues to drive in runs with 25 RBI to lead the club along with a .333 batting average.  Putnam, of course, had the great weekend against USC and played well again against Cal with three hits (all in the last two games) and three RBI.  After getting only 66 at-bats last season when he hit .212, the sophomore outfielder/DH is hitting .377 with four homers and 19 RBI in 69 at-bats thus far in 2003.  In the six-hole, John Mayberry, Jr. continues to impress as he had a spectacular 4-for-5 game on Friday and has now hit safely in 14 consecutive contests.  Junior has also already hit five triples this year, which is halfway to the Stanford single-season record.  At the bottom of the order, Tobin Swope continues to be a "singles machine" with 25 of his 27 hits being singles.  Can't complain though with Swope as he boasts a nice .321 average and of course is a big stolen base threat (he stole three bases alone on Friday).  Jonny Ash returned to the starting lineup on Saturday and went 4-for-8 with two doubles over the last two games.  He also had a pinch-hit single on Friday night.  While in the #9 spot, freshman Chris Lewis had a good weekend going 2-for-6 with four walks.

On the pitching side, excellent marks all-around for Stanford hurlers last weekend.  John Hudgins pitched very well on Friday night going the distance while giving up just two runs on seven hits.  Control was a major issue for Hudgins in his freshman year, but he improved quite a bit in that category in his sophomore campaign, and he's been Greg Maddux-like in 2003.  The junior righthander has walked only six while recording 51 K's in 51 innings to go along with a 4-1 record and a 3.35 ERA.  That's just what you want out of your #1 guy.  Ryan McCally had another good outing on Saturday tossing 5 2/3 innings (three runs allowed) to improve to 3-1 on the year.  With the way Ryan has pitched in a starter's role this year, you would have to think that once Cunningham gets back from injury, McCally will stay in the rotation.  Freshman Mark Romanczuk got his second consecutive Sunday start and went six innings while giving up just two runs.  He struck out seven and is already 5-0 this season (along with two saves).  Out of the bullpen last weekend, David O'Hagan had a great outing on Sunday (after struggling a little on Saturday) as he fired three scoreless innings without walking a batter and giving up just one hit.  Matt Manship got out of a big jam in the seventh inning on Saturday when the game was still close while Kodiak Quick nailed down his first career save with perfect eighth and ninth innings on Saturday.  I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing a lot more of Kodiak Quick in middle-to-late inning relief this season.

Good weekend defensively for the Cardinal as they commit just a single error on each day.  Jonny Ash got his first two starts at third this season and played very well while Chris Lewis, despite an error on Sunday, continues to make some fine plays over at second.


"Super Sixteen" Poll :

                       Record     Pvs.

1. Florida State        19-2       1
    * Seminoles remain in the top spot after 5-1 week that saw them sweep Siena and take 2-of-3 from Florida.

2. Georgia Tech         14-0       2
    * Jackets stay perfect with 5-0 week (two wins over Campbell, three wins over Rutgers).

3. Rice                 15-1       3
    * Owls get WAC play started with a three-game sweep at Louisiana Tech.

4. Arizona State        28-1       5
    * Sun Devils continue to win with a perfect 4-0 week against much lesser competition ... currently in the midst of a 19-game homestand.

5. Cal State Fullerton  16-3       4
    * Titans surprised in Minnesota as the Golden Gophers take 2-of-3 from Fullerton.

6. Stanford             14-7       6
    * Cardinal remain hot with convincing home sweep of California.

7. Long Beach State     13-6      10
    * 49ers go on the road and impressively take 2-of-3 from top-ten Baylor.

8. Texas                15-6       8
    * Longhorns back on track as they take 2-of-3 from visiting Arizona.

9. South Carolina       12-3       9
    * Gamecocks stay put at #9 after 4-1 week (1-0 vs. Gardner-Webb, 1-0 vs. Furman, 2-1 vs. Radford).

10. Baylor              14-5       7
    * Bears drop a few spots after losing 2-of-3 to Long Beach State.

11. Nebraska             9-2      11
    * Cornhuskers sweep UW-Milwaukee in weather-shortened two-game series.

12. Wake Forest          9-4      12
    * Deacons with a 4-1 week to remain at #12 (1-0 vs. Charlotte, 1-0 vs. Albany, 2-1 vs. LeMoyne).

13. Auburn              16-3      NA
    * Tigers in the poll for the first time after impressive three-game sweep at North Carolina (Auburn has also won a series over Clemson).

14. Alabama             12-3      14
    * Tide continue to feast on a bunch of cupcakes as they go 4-0 with wins over Belmont and Massachusetts.

15. Richmond            10-1      15
    * Spiders played eight games last week and finished 7-1 ... swept a four-game series from Princeton over the weekend.

16. Mississippi State    9-1      NR
    * Bulldogs in the poll after 4-0 week with wins over previously unbeaten UAB and Lipscomb.

Dropped Out : USC (9-10, 2-2 last week), Houston (7-9, 1-3 last week).
 

Opponents Update :

The Seminoles had their 16-game winning streak snapped (going back to Stanford's 2-1 win over FSU on February 7th) when they lost a 9-8 decision at Florida on Sunday.  Florida State still has an impressive 19-2 record, albeit against mainly very weak competition.  Cal State Fullerton lost their first series of the year when Minnesota took 2-of-3 from the Titans.  Fullerton still stands at 16-3 and is ranked in the top five.  Other Cardinal opponents Santa Clara (8-15) and Fresno State (6-12) are enduring tough starts to their seasons, although Fresno did take 2-of-3 from Hawaii in their WAC opener last weekend.


Baseball America Poll :

Stanford moved up one spot (past Baylor) to #6 in this week's Baseball America poll.  Georgia Tech and Rice remained in the #1 and #2 spots respectively.  Arizona State and Florida State switched places with Sun Devils now with the #3 ranking and Florida State at #4.  Cal State Fullerton stayed put at #5.  Long Beach State's #7 ranking gives the west coast four teams ranked among the top seven.  USC fell completely out of the poll (from #18) after losing 2-of-3 to UCLA last weekend.  The Pac-10 could make a claim to being the top conference in college baseball right now, yet only two teams are currently ranked.


Up Next for Stanford :

The Cardinal are off for the next 12 days as the players prepare for and take their final exams.  Stanford will next be in action on Saturday-Monday, March 22-24 at #3 Arizona State.  The Sun Devils are currently 28-1 and have five games (three versus Oklahoma and two versus Wichita State) before they play the Card.  That series will be the Pac-10 opener for both schools.

With no series to review this weekend, next week's "College Baseball Roundup" will take an in-depth look at the conference and Stanford's chances to win the title as Pac-10 play gets set to begin.

 


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