Leading Off • No. 8-ranked Stanford Baseball (2-1) fresh off a series win at No. 17-ranked Rice, will return home briefly for three days by hosting No. 17-ranked California (2-0) on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Stanford then will get back on the plane for a three-game series at No. 3-ranked Vanderbilt (4-0). All games will be on KZSU 90.1 FM, the internet at gostanford.com and on your iPhone by downloading the Stanford App and then listening to KZSU.
Cal-Stanford Series (Feb. 22 at Stanford, Apr. 25 at Cal Last Series at Cal) • Series: Stanford 198-81-1 (since 1959); Last: 3-1 Stanford, 2010 Stanford swept the Pac-10 series with the Bears and lost a midweek affair last year. Previously Stanford had dropped each of the last three conference series (2007-09). The series was the site for the orginal axe. The Axe, which debuted on April 13, 1899, lasted one day before Cal students swiped it at a Stanford-Cal baseball game on April 14 in The City. It stayed on the Berkeley campus for 31 years.
• About the Bears: David Esquer, a former Stanford great who won a national title with the Cardinal in 1987, is at the helm having sent the Bears to an NCAA Regional two times in the last three years. Cal opened the season with a doubleheader sweep of Utah on Sunday, winning game two with three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Cal enters the week No. 17 nationally paced by second baseman Tony Renda (.373 with 55 runs last year) and Chadd Krist (.344, 43 runs, 10 homers). Cal hit .318 last year, but fielded at a .961 clip, last in the Pac-10. Cal will drop its program at the end of the season after playing for 119 years.
Stanford-Vanderbilt Series (Feb. 25-27 at Vanderbilt) • Series: Stanford 3-1; Last: 2-1 Stanford, 2009 The two teams last met in 2009 for the first three-game series in the teams’ history. In a closely fought contest, Stanford rallied from a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Commodores 6-5 in 10 innings in the opener, before Vandy evened the series with a 12-9 win in game one of a doubleheader. In game two, Stanford scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to win 6-5.
• About the Commodores: Vandy opened the season 4-0 against the City of San Diego this past weekend, sweeping the Toreros (4-3, 3-1, 7-3) and also beating the Aztecs (7-3). On Sunday, senior RHP Taylor Hill gave up one run over 7.1 innings, while junior LHP Grayson Garvina carried a perfect game into the seventh, giving up three runs on five hits over 8.1 IP. Friday night starter Sonny Gray is projected by Baseball America to be the SEC Pitcher of the Year after going 10-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 113 Ks in 2010. Gray is also rated the fourth-best junior in the country. Vandy returns its top five hitters from last year and seven everyday starters from a 46-win team. Tim Corbin is in his ninth season, making the last five NCAA Regionals. Vandy hosts Belmont on Tuesday.
Cardinal Wins Opening Series at Rice • No. 10-ranked Stanford won its opening series for the seventh time in the last eight years, winning two of three at No. 17 Rice (W 5-3, L 1-7, W 6-2). The team’s bullpen allowed just one earned run all weekend (10.2 IP) with Scott Snodgress (3.1 innings) getting the win in the opener and Danny Sandbrink getting the save with the final four innnings in the series clincher. Sophomore RHP Mark Appel got a no-decision on Friday, despite 5.2 innings of two-run baseball. On Saturday, Rice evened the series behind six shutout innings from Matthew Reckling. In the Sunday clincher, Stanford’s freshmen accounted for all six RBIs as Austin Wilson went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, batting .500 for the weekend.
Stanford in the Rankings • Stanford moved up to No. 8 in Baseball America and No. 9 in Collegiate Baseball after opening the season as high as No. 10 in the preseason. Stanford will face eight teams ranked in the preseason national top-25 this season.
Scout the Opponents and the 2011 Draft • Stanford’s schedule normally features a number of top teams. The other side of the dugout will also feature a number of top prospects. On Baseball America’s top-25 college prospect list, Stanford will face eight such players-- Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon (rated No. 1), UCLA pitchers Gerrit Cole (No. 2) and Trevor Bauer (No. 12), Texas righthander Taylor Jungman (No. 4), Hawai’i second baseman Kolten Wong (No. 15), Oregon lefthander Tyler Anderson (No. 16), Vanderbilt third baseman Jason Esposito (No. 18) and Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac (No. 23). Texas Two Step and a Nashville Swing • Stanford will play nine of its first 11 on the road. The Cardinal opened the season by taking two of three in Houston and at Rice, and will head back to the Central Time Zone for a three-game series in Nashville for Vanderbilt this weekend, followed by a return trip to Texas and Austin in two weeks.
Tough Starts... Big Finishes? This is the second straight year Stanford has opened with two top-15 teams. Prior to that, Stanford opened the season with two top-15 teams over the first three weeks of 2002 and 2003, both College World Series years. Stanford lost at No. 13 CS Fullerton and No. 4 Florida in 2003 and beat No. 15 CS Fullerton and won at No. 6 Florida State in 2002. Last year Stanford swept No. 5 Rice and were swept at No. 3 Texas. Stanford has played three top-25 opponents over the first month in 2003 (CWS), 2000 (CWS), 1992 (NCAAs), 1989 (no NCAAs) and 1987 (national title).
Near Scoreless Bullpen • Stanford’s bullpen opened the season by allowing just one run over 10.2 innings out of the pen with lefthander Scott Snodgress giving up an earned run in 3.1 innings of relief of Friday to earn the win; followed by A.J. Talt pitching for the first time in three seasons and no-hitting the Owls for the final 3.1 innings in a loss; and on Sunday, Danny Sandbrink giving up one unearned run to earn the save with 4.0 innings.
Ok, Maybe the Pundits Have Something • According to Baseball America, Stanford has three preseason All-Americans on its roster. All three did not disappoint at Rice. Shortstop Kenny Diekroeger (first team) hit .417, Mark Appel (second team) gave up two runs over 5.2 innings in a no-decision, striking out four, and rightfielder Austin Wilson hit .500 with two multi-hit games and his first home run.
Still Perfect • Sophomore RHP Dean McArdle remains perfect in his young career following a win in the series clincher at No. 17 Rice on Sunday. McArdle was 5-0 last year, finishing the year as the Sunday starter over the last three weeks of the season. McArdle gave up one unearned run over 5.0 innings last Sunday.
Pac-10 Predictions • Stanford Baseball received two of 10 first place votes and is picked to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference, according to the league’s 10 coaches. UCLA, who along with Arizona State, played in last year’s College World Series, received eight first place votes and 79 total points and is the preseason favorite. Stanford received 66 points, followed by Arizona State (60 points), Oregon (59) and Arizona (48). The bottom five consisted of: California (46), Washington State (37), Oregon State (28), USC (16) and Washington (11).
Some of the Classiest • Baseball America put out its list of best players from each class, and no surprise Stanford with top-five recruiting classes in each of the last two years, was on it. Six players were rated in the top-50, paced by Kenny Diekroeger (No. 2), Mark Appel (No. 4) and Jake Stewart (No. 36) in the sophomore rankings and Austin Wilson (No. 3), A.J. Vanegas (No. 5) and Brian Ragira (No. 13) among the top freshmen.
Ranking the Positions • Collegebaseball360.com produced a position by position breakdown and listed the top-11 players by position. Kenny Diekroeger (Woodside, CA) was joined by Pac-10 foes, Oregon’s K.C. Serna and Arizona State’s Deven Marrero among the nation’s best shortstops.
Top Rated Class • For the first time in the history of Baseball America’s 11-year annual recruiting survey, Stanford Baseball had the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. This year’s class is headlined by Los Angeles outfielder Austin Wilson, Texas utility player Brian Ragira, San Lorenzo righthander A.J. Vanegas and Burbank infielder Lonnie Kauppila. This year’s top class, adds to the No. 2 ranked class a year ago that featured Kenny Diekroeger, Stephen Piscotty, Jake Stewart and Mark Appel. Collegiate Baseball rated this year’s class No. 11.
Impressive Summers • Stanford Baseball had seven players, the most in college baseball, ranked amongst Baseball America’s top summer prospects. Kenny Diekroeger (New England), Chris Reed (Atlantic Collegiate League) and Jake Stewart (Alaska) were all rated as the top prospects in their respective leagues, joining Mark Appel (NECBL), Eric Smith (Atlantic), Stephen Piscotty (Alaska) and Brett Mooneyham (Team USA). Diekroeger, Appel Reed, and Smith were all named mid-summer All Stars.
From the Diamond to a Degree • Stanford academics and athletics continues to rank amongst the nation’s elite as Stanford Baseball, with an academic progress report number of 985, was ranked in the top-10 percent of all Division-I baseball programs. Some Cardinal Major Leaguers who have earned their degrees include: Gold Glove catcher Bob Boone, Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell, All Star Mike Mussina, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., former manager A.J. Hinch and long-time Major Leaguers Mike Aldrete and Jeffrey Hammonds.
Smart at the Top • Of the 12 Major Leaguers in 2010, eight earned their degrees with Jason Castro and Drew Storen, both on pace to earn their degrees as well. A Wall Street Journal report said that only two dozen Major Leaguers had earned their degrees in 2010.
Professional Development • The 2010 season saw the debuts of Drew Storen (Nationals) and Jason Castro (Astros), the retiring of eight-year veteran and former MLB pitcher Mike Gosling and the return to form for former Major Leaguers Greg Reynolds (Rockies) and Jed Lowrie (Red Sox). Two future stars also continued to move up the charts in Indians infielder Cord Phelps and A’s outfielder Michael Taylor as both former Cardinal stars finished the year in Triple-A. Stanford had a dozen players in the Majors in 2010 given them 86 all-time. Marquess has coached 52 Major Leaguers since 1977 (53 have made the Majors with current White Sox GM Kenny Williams only playing football at Stanford).
2010 In Review • The young Cardinal, featuring four freshmen starters and 12 underclassmen on its pitching staff, returned to the post-season after a one-year absence playing in the Fullerton Regional at Cal State Fullerton, only to be eliminated in the first round for just the second time in school history. Stanford finished the campaign 31-25 and 14-13 in the Pac-10. The conference featured a record eight teams into the post-season. Kenny Diekroeger became the first-ever Stanford freshman to lead the Cardinal in average (.356) and RBIs (41), earning Freshman All-America and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. Classmates Stephen Piscotty (.326) and Tyler Gaffney (.328) both were named honorable mention All-Pac-10 as freshmen starters in the outfield. Second baseman Colin Walsh, who also had a team-high 41 RBIs as well as a team-best seven homers, as well as first baseman Jonathan Kaskow (.328) were two of five players who moved onto pro ball. The young pitching staff for the second-straight season was anchored by sophomores Jordan Pries (4-4) and Brett Mooneyham (3-7). Sophomore Scott Snodgress and then freshman Dean McArdle (5-0) then anchored the Sunday slot. Alex Pracher (6-4) led the team with a 3.15 ERA out of the bullpen, accumulating six saves.
Tickets Available • Tickets for the team’s home games are available at www.gostanford.com or by calling 1-800-STANFORD.
Two-Sport Tradition • Including Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart (running back and outfielder), current head coach Mark Marquess (who was a quarterback, defensive back and punt returner) and NFL Hall of Famer John Elway (and outfielder and quarterback), the Cardinal have had a number of great two-sport stars. One of the first was Ernie Nevers, who starred for the Cardinal in the early part of the 20th Centruy. That list has included: Major League pitcher Joe Borchard (also a QB), NFL and MLB player Chad Hutchinson (RHP and QB), 1940s Major Leaguer Lloyd Merriman, Brian Johnson (QB) and John Lynch (QB and RHP). Orange Bowl Champion and backup running back Tyler Gaffney is the latest two-sport athlete.