May 2, 2012
No. 7-ranked Stanford (28-12, 10-8 Pac-12) will travel to Oregon State (28-14, 9-9 Pac-12) this weekend for a three-game series on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Saturday’s game will be live on Root TV (Direct TV: 687, Dish: 426). Stanford has won the last two Pac-12 series over top-25 Arizona State and at UCLA. The Cardinal close the Pac-12 slate with OSU (28-14), Washington State (23-18), Utah (12-30) and Cal (23-18). Catcher Eric Smith continues to lead the club with a .323 average.
In the Rankings
• Stanford moved up to No. 7 in the USA Today/Coaches poll, No. 10 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 12 in Baseball America. Stanford has been in the top-10 all season. A preseason No. 2, Stanford was ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll the last week of February and were in the top-two in each of the first seven weeks. In 12 of the last 25 seasons Stanford has been ranked at No. 1.
About the Beavers
(Bat: .278, ERA: 3.48, Field: .974)
• Pat Casey’s Beavers dropped a series at USC after beating No. 11 UCLA two weeks ago. At 9-9 in the Pac-12, OSU has also won series with Cal and Washington and dropped series to Arizona and ASU. Tyler Smith leads ranks third in the Pac-12 with a .384 average with a team-high 34 runs, while Michael Conforto has a Pac-12 leading 54 RBIs to go along with a .584 slugging percentage and .356 average. At .277, the Beavers are ninth in the Pac-12 in batting. On the mound, Jace Fry (2.25), Dan Child (2.65) and Ben Wetzler (3.18) have the team’s to three ERAs. Closer Tony Bryant has eight saves and a 3.42 ERA.
• Stanford leads the series 39-26 since 1964. They’ve split the last eight series.
• Stanford will toss RHP Mark Appel (6-1, 2.73), LHP Brett Mooneyham (5-4, 3.98) and either RHP A.J. Vanegas (3-0, 2.77) or LHP John Hochstatter (3-3, 3.24) this weekend. OSU is scheduled to throw LHP Ben Wetzler (5-2, 3.18), LHP Jace Fry (4-3, 2.25) and RHP Dan Child (4-3, 2.65).
• Oregon (14-7) has a 0.5 game lead over Arizona (12-6). UCLA (12-9) is 2.0 games back, followed by Stanford (10-8) at 2.5 games back and Arizona State (11-10). OSU is 9-9 and 3.5 games back. Oregon is at Arizona in a key matchup.
Offense Ticking Again
• After scoring a combined eight runs against Oregon and San Jose State (and going 1-4), Stanford has scored seven runs or better in six of the last eight games, batting .294 in the process. The Cardinal are also 6-3. This past weekend Stanford outscored No. 10 UCLA 18-11, after taking care of No. 20 Arizona State, 34-17. The Cardinal have also dropped top-10 foes Texas (28-5), Vanderbilt (35-13) and Rice (15-9). Stanford was hitting .312 before the finals break, going 13-2.
Spartans Sweep Season Series
• San Jose State swept the season series with Stanford, following an 8-5 win over No. 7-ranked Stanford (28-12). The Cardinal’s first three pitchers-- John Hochstatter, Dean McArdle (3-1) and Garrett Hughes allowed all eight runs on 10 hits prior to David Schmidt’s two shutout innings and Stephen Piscotty’s perfect eighth. Austin Wilson homered twice in the loss.
Cardinal Win Key Top-10 Series at UCLA
• No. 9-ranked Stanford (28-11) won a key series at No. 10-ranked UCLA, book ending the series with identical 7-2 victories on Friday and Saturday. In the opener top starter Mark Appel (6-1) struck out 10 for the fifth time this season (and fourth against a top-10 opponent) to win the opener 7-2. Stephen Piscotty provided the offense with a three-run homer. On Saturday, UCLA evened the series as Brett Mooneyham (5-4) lost for the fourth time in five starts, as the Bruins held on for the 7-4 victory. The Cardinal loaded the bases in the ninth but could not score against closer Scott Griggs. On Sunday, after UCLA took a 2-0 lead after the first two frames, the Cardinal rallied with a two-out, six-run rally in the fifth to ultimately win the series, 7-2. Stanford sent eight straight men to the plate after two were gone. Sahil Bloom, who pitched two innings on Friday, pitched the final 5.0 scoreless innings on Sunday for the win.
• Stanford RHP Mark Appel has struck out at least 10 in five starts this season. Equally impressive is that four of the opponents have been top-10 opponents in Texas, Rice, Oregon and last Friday, 10 more at UCLA. The Pac-12 strikeout leader has struck out 81 in 79.0 innings. He has also taken over the team lead with a 6-1 record and 2.73 ERA. Opponents are hitting .218 against him.
Keeping it Close
• Over the last two years, Mark Appel has dropped eight games, all which have been decided by three runs or less at the conclussion. Overall he is 12-8 over his two year’s as the team’s No. 1 starter.
• Junior RHP Sahil Bloom tossed 5.0 shutout innings for the win on Sunday at UCLA after 2.0 innings on Friday. He has a 2.72 ERA over 15 relief appearances this season.
Wilson Continues Launch Party
• Austin Wilson homered twice on Tuesday, giving the sophomore rightfielder a team-high eight home runs on the season to go along with his 36 RBIs and team-leading 42 runs.
Pencil Him in the Lineup
• Stephen Piscotty has played in every game over the last three years-- starting all 153 of them, including the first 152 of them in the field prior to Tuesday’s start at designated hitter. He is hitting .338 in his three-year career, including .317 with 31 runs and 49 RBIs this season.
Who Will Lead the Team in Hitting Next?
• Stanford hitters have jockeyed back and forth to earn the team lead in batting, which for the past few weeks has belonged to catcher Eric Smith (.323). Centerfielder Jake Stewart led the Cardinal in hitting early on, reaching an average in the .400’s, and Brian Ragira has been in the converstaion for a good portion of the season. Smith has been the team leader in batting over the last 15 games, gaining company in the likes of Stephen Piscotty (.317) and Ragira (.322).
Finding a Way to Score
• Centerfielder Tyler Gaffney has scored 40 runs on the season (second on the team), scoring at least one run in six of the last eight games. A constant threat to get on base, Gaffney leads the club in walks (23) and hit by pitches (15), batting .254. He also has six steals. Gaffney and Austin Wilson rank in the top-eight in the Pac-12 in runs.
Danny D Produces
• The younger brother of Kenny Diekroeger, Danny, is finally seeing some playing time as a sophomore, hitting safely in eight of the last nine starts to raise is average to .359. Prior to April 15, he had just six at-bats on the season.
• Brian Ragira enters the weekend on a mini nine-game hit streak, driving in runs in six of those games, including all three games at UCLA this season. Ragira, one of four players to play all 40 games (and one of two, along with Austin Wilson to play the same position), is batting .324 with 23 runs and 38 RBIs.
• Stephen Piscotty (49 RBIs), Brian Ragira (38) and Austin Wilson (36) are the team’s three leading RBI threats this season. Piscotty ranks second in the Pac-12 in RBIs, while Ragira checks in at No. 7.
• Stanford aces Mark Appel (81 strikeouts) and Brett Mooneyham (73) are currently 1-2 in the Pac-12 in strikeouts. If one of the two lead the conference in punchouts, it would be the first time since John Hudgins in 2003 led the league in that category.
No Where to Run
• According to this week’s Pac-12 statistics, catcher Eric Smith has had just 19 steal attempts against him this season, the 11th-lowest in the conference among the other 10 receivers. Smith, a Johnny Bench Award watch list member, has thrown out a respectable 38 percent of would-be base stealers. Even more impressive considering Smith was a reserve infielder the last two years and didn’t catch full-time until this fall.
• Stanford has six wins in its last at-bat, doing it again last weekend versus ASU. Alex Blandino’s two-out RBI single against the Sun Devils, on Saturday, gave the Cardinal the series en route to the sweep. On Sunday at Washington, an interference call at home followed by a double steal gave Stanford a 9-8 victory. Five days earlier, the Cardinal won 9-8 in 12th innings as Danny Diekroeger drove in the winning run in the 12th after Stanford scored five in the ninth to send it to extra innings against Saint Mary’s on April 2. Homers won three games this year-- Austin Wilson’s walk-off two-run homer in the ninth against USC, Stephen Piscotty’s two-run homer at Pacific in the 11th and Justin Ringo’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth against Rice.
• Shortstop Lonnie Kauppila, a starter on the infield for 29 games this year, will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury suffered on Sunday against Oregon. The sophomore was hitting .280 with 16 runs and 13 RBIs this year. In his place, Kenny Diekroeger will move back to short and Brett Michael Doran and Alex Blandino will play on the infield.
Notables Off the Bench
25th Anniversary of Back-to-Back Champions
• The 2012 season marks the 25th Anniversary of the 1987 and 1988 national champions under Mark Marquess. During the final weekend of the year the teams will be honored. That Cal team is coached by former shortstop David Esquer, who was the starting shortstop in 1987. The pregame ceremony will occur May 26.
Get Your Degree Under Marquess and Make the Majors
• Of Stanford’s 56 Major Leaguers under Mark Marquess, 47 have earned their degrees. Four of those players-- Drew Storen, Jason Castro, Michael Taylor and Cord Phelps are current Major Leaguers, who take classes in the off season. A 2011 Wall Street Journal report said that only two dozen Major Leaguers had earned their degrees in 2010. Some Cardinal Major Leaguers who have earned their degrees include: Gold Glove catcher Bob Boone, Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell (communications), All Star Mike Mussina (economics), Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., (biology) former manager A.J. Hinch (psychology) and long-time Major Leaguers Mike Aldrete (communications) and Jeffrey Hammonds (history).Marquess himself was a politics major, whose freshman roommate just happened to be Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
• 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 Century. That list has included: NFL Hall of Famer John Elway, current coach Mark Marquess (a punter, wide receiver and QB with Jim Plunkett in the late 1960s), NFL Executive Ray Anderson, Major League pitcher Joe Borchard (also a QB), NFL and MLB player Chad Hutchinson (RHP and QB), 1940s Major Leaguer and Korea War pilot Lloyd Merriman, Brian Johnson (QB), Toi Cook (NFL veteran and member of the 1987 CWS team) and John Lynch (QB and RHP).