1998 Season Review
Nineteen ninety-eight will go down in the books as another landmark season for the Stanford University Baseball Program.
The Cardinal stayed atop the national rankings for a collegiate baseball record 14 straight weeks in 1998, and jumped out to the best start in school history at 16-0-1 en route to a final mark of 42-14-1. Additionally, the Cardinal appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in the last 18 years, and captured its second straight Pacific-10 Southern Division title.
"I'm very proud of our team," Stanford head coach Mark Marquess said following the season. "It was a great season for us. We had a terrific start, and were able to repeat as Six-Pac champions, which is a very difficult thing to do."
The '98 campaign was also highlighted by the performance of Baseball America National Player of the Year Jeff Austin. The junior right-hander, who was 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA, was also a consensus First Team All-American, Six-Pac Pitcher of the Year and was a finalist for both the Rotary Smith Award and the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.
Austin and No. 2 starter Chad Hutchinson also played a huge role in Stanford's record-setting start. The Cardinal won its first nine games, and following a tie at Texas, reeled off seven more victories before finally suffering its first defeat on March 1. In that season-opening 16-0-1 stretch, Austin and Hutchinson combined to go 9-0.
Hutchinson also became just the eighth pitcher in Stanford history to throw a no-hitter when he stifled Fresno State over five-innings in a rain-shortened 4-0 win at Beiden Field on Feb. 1. Hutchinson's gem helped complete the three-game sweep at Fresno, while the Cardinal also went on to sweep two from Cal State Fullerton, go 2-0-1 at Texas and take three at UCLA by rolling up a Pac-10 Southern Division record 64 runs in the three-game set in Westwood.
In February alone, the top-ranked Cardinal went an impressive 12-0-1 and outscored the opposition 143-49 in the process. Stanford hit .340 during the month, with John Gall and Joe Borchard each hitting .415, while the opposition hit just .212. Stanford pitchers also compiled a 2.94 ERA during that span (compared to 9.00 for the opposition), with Austin going an impressive 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA.
The Cardinal carried that success over to the final season of Pac-10 Southern Division play. Stanford captured its second straight Six-Pac title, and finished the 20-year run of the conference with an amazing eight titles. In those 20 seasons, Stanford finished first or second 16 times.
The Cardinal jumped out to a 12-2 start in the Six-Pac to take early control, and wound up 22-8 to edge eventual national champion USC (21-9) by one game and Arizona State (18-11) by three-and-a-half games. Stanford clinched the crown on May 9 with a 4-2 win over USC at Sunken Diamond behind a complete game performance from Austin.
But the defining moment in the conference season, and perhaps the best college baseball game in 1998, was on Friday, Apr. 3 when the Cardinal visited USC in the opener of a three-game set. The contest was a pitching matchup for the ages between consensus First Team All-Americans Austin and Seth Etherton of USC. Etherton allowed just four hits and struck out 15 in a complete-game effort, but was outdueled by Austin's complete game six-hit shutout in the 1-0 Cardinal win. In all, the two eventual first-round draft picks combined to allow just 10 hits over 18 innings, while walking just one and striking out 23. The difference in the contest was Jody Gerut's tape-measure home run over the right field fence with one out in the top of the seventh.
The Six-Pac championship earned the Cardinal the No. 1 seed and the honor of hosting the NCAA West Regional at Sunken Diamond for the third straight year. The Cardinal dropped its opener to Loyola Marymount 6-2, but rebounded to blow out Minnesota 19-1 the following day. The Cardinal was then eliminated on Saturday by eventual regional champion Long Beach State 5-1 before a packed house of 3,892.
Despite the early exit, the Cardinal racked up numerous individual honors at season's end. Marquess earned Six-Pac Coach of the Year honors for the second straight season, and seventh time overall. In addition to Austin's honors, three other players also were named First Team All-Six-Pac - sophomore John Gall (team-high .381 average with 15 homers and 63 RBI), center fielder Jody Gerut (.335 with 18 homers and 61 RBI, and played in every inning of all 57 games) and shortstop Jay Pecci (defensive standout also hit .294). Gall, Gerut and Pecci highlighted an offense that hit .311 as a team, and had six starters hit .300 or better. Gall and Gerut also joined Austin on the All-West Region First Team, while Pecci was named to the Second Team. Pecci and Gall were also First Team Pac-10 All-Academic selections, along with second baseman Tony Schrager.
The Stanford pitching staff also turned in another impressive campaign with a conference-best 4.13 ERA, which was well ahead of second-place USC's 5.03. Chad Hutchinson went 10-5 to earn NCBWA Second Team All-American Honors, and finish his career with an impressive 25-10 record.
A pair of freshmen also made their mark on the national level. Right-handed pitcher Justin Wayne anchored the Cardinal bullpen with a 6-0 record, six saves and a 3.78 ERA to earn Louisville Slugger First Team Freshman All-American honors. Right fielder/designated hitter Joe Borchard hit .330 with 10 homers and 55 RBI in his first season, and was an Honorable Mention Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.
1998 Quick Review
Overall Record 42-14-1
Pac-10 Southern Division Record 22-8 (1st)
NCAA Post-Season 1-2, West Regional at Stanford, CA (T4th)
All-America Honors RHP Jeff Austin (Baseball America National Player of the Year), RHP Chad Hutchinson
All-Conference Honors RHP Jeff Austin (co-Pitcher of the Year), 1B John Gall, CF Jody Gerut, Mark Marquess (Coach of the Year), SS Jay Pecci
Series Record vs. Six-Pac W L T Pct Arizona 83 47 - .638 Arizona State 68 72 - .486 California 200 200 - .500 UCLA 168 128 - .568 USC 125 189 3 .399 All-Time Six-Pac Standings (1979-98) Stanford 364 236 - .607 Arizona State 340 257 - .570 USC 316 284 - .527 UCLA 273 327 - .455 Arizona 269 329 - .450 California 233 362 - .392 Stanford Series Record vs. Six-Pac teams (1979-98) Arizona 78 42 - .650 Arizona State 62 58 - .517 California 82 38 - .683 UCLA 76 44 - .633 USC 67 53 - .558