May 10, 2012
No. 12-ranked Stanford (29-14, 11-10 Pac-12) will host Washington State (24-20, 9-11 Pac-12) on Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. For Friday, gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. Fireworks night. Stanford has won two of its last three Pac-12 series, dropping a series at Oregon State last week. Stanford plays 9-11 Wazzu, followed by games at 6-18 Utah and 9-12 Cal to close out the season. Stephen Piscotty leads the club in hitting (.335) and RBIs (50) and also has a 2.93 ERA in eight relief appearances.
In the Rankings
• Stanford dropped to 12th in the USA Today / Coaches Poll, are 17th in Baseball America and 16th Collegiate Baseball. Prior to this week, Stanford was ranked in the national top-10 in at least one of the three polls in every previous week. 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 Cougars
(Bat: .293, ERA: 4.67, Field: .978)
• The Cougars have won series with Oregon and Utah, but dropped series with Arizona, ASU, Cal and UCLA. Derek Jones is hitting a team-high .356 with nine homers and 40 RBIs, while Taylor Ard has 10 homers, a .575 slugging percentage and 40 RBIs as well. Ard is also batting .337. Kellen Camus is the relief ace with a 2.84 ERA in 23 appearances. Four starters have had at least nine starts for a steady rotation-- Joe Pisctorese (2-3, 3.19), Tanner Chleborad (4-1, 3.60), JD Leckenby (4-5, 3.75) and Kyle Swannack (3-3, 5.81). No pitcher has more than 36 strikeouts.
• Stanford leads the all-time series 37-18. Stanford won two out of three in Pullman last year, in a series that saw Stanford blow an 8-2 lead in the opener, then win the Saturday finale, with snow in May, 22-3, before future first round pick Chris Reed secured Mark Marquess’ 1400th career win.
• Oregon (16-8) following a key series win over Arizona (13-8), lead the Wildcats by 1.5 games. Ineligible ASU (14-10) is 2.0 games back followed by UCLA (12-9) at 2.5 games back. Stanford, Oregon State and Washington are all 11-10 and 3.5 games back. Boyds World RPIs have UCLA (3), Oregon (5), Stanford (15), Arizona (19), ASU (29) and Oregon State 931) all in the top-35.
Field of 64
• The annual field of 64 will be announced on Memorial Day at 9 a.m. on ESPNU with the 16 regional sites announced the day before. Teams with an RPI in the top-20 are seriously considered as first round hosts of the four-team regionals. There are eight national seeds, which are guaranteed hosting duties in each of the first two rounds prior to Omaha. Stanford has reached 30 NCAA Regionals (27 under Marquess). Under Marquess have hosted 14 Regionals since 1983.
Oregon State Edges Cardinal in Pac-12 Series
• Oregon State edged No. 7-ranked Stanford (29-14) by taking the rubber game 5-4 in 10 innings after Mark Appel won the opener and OSU’s Jayce Fry countered with the win on Saturday. In the opener, a scoreless pitching duel saw OSU strike first with two runs in the seventh. Stanford responded with three runs in the eighth, and another five in the ninth to win 8-2. Mark Appel (7-1) picked up his seventh win with 7.0 strong innings, before A.J. Vanegas converted the 2.0 inning save. With Brett Mooneyham unavailable for the weekend, Stanford relied on six pitchers to limit the Beavers to four runs on six hits. Fry though was better, pitching a five-hitter to even the series. Stanford left the tying runs on base in the ninth. On Sunday, after OSU scored three runs over the first two innings, Vanegas (3.1 shutout innings) and Stephen Piscotty (one run, 4.2 innings) held the Beavers to just one run in nine innings, as the Cardinal mounted a comeback with two runs in the sixth and another two with two outs in the ninth, courtesy of a two-out, two-run single by Kenny Diekroeger. Piscotty, who also had four hits, pitched a career-high 4.2 innings, as a bases loaded single that popped out of the glove of a diving center fielder Jake Stewart gave the Beavers the win in the tenth. Twelve of the Cardinal’s 14 runs in the series came in the eighth and ninth innings.
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.
• Stanford shortstop Kenny Diekroeger was named first team Academic All-District for the second straight year as the management, science and engineering major carries a 3.59 cumulative GPA. He was also placed on the initial list for the Brooks Wallace Award on the same day in early May, honoring college’s top shortstop. He is hitting .298 with a team-high 13 doubles. He has also driven in 24, producing a solid .967 fielding percentage at second and short.
Appel Racking up the Wins
• Mark Appel picked up his seventh win last Friday at Oregon State, reaching the seventh inning in his tenth start (of 11) this year. Since his loss at Fresno State, Appel is 5-0 with a 2.39 ERA over his last eight starts after dropping his only contest of the year at Fresno State (seven earned in 8.0 IP). Overall the Pac-12’s strikeout leader with 85 punchouts has a 2.72 ERA over 86.0 innings. He has struck out at least 10 in five starts this year.
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. Over the last two years, Appel is 13-8 as the team’s No. 1 starter.
The Do-Everything Utility Player
• Stephen Piscotty, who pitched in high school and a bit as a freshman, has developed into the Cardinal’s ultimate utility player this year. The team’s starting third baseman prior to an injury to shortstop Lonnie Kauppila, Piscotty has moved to left (where he also played as a freshman), starting 11 games. Hitting 93 mph in the Cape Cod League, and this season, Piscotty also has a 2.93 ERA and 2-2 record in eight relief appearances. He threw a career-best 4.2 innings last week at Oregon State and also has a save against BYU and two wins the first week of April, when he pitched twice in a single game with Saint Mary’s. He also leads the club in average (.335) and RBIs (50). If that is not enough, he has started every game (156 and counting). Ranking second in the Pac-12 in RBIs, Piscotty had driven in seven twice this season.
Homer Happy Wilson
• Rightfielder Austin Wilson has a team-high eight homers this season, homering twice in the second and ffith innings at San Jose State two weeks ago. Wilson ranks third on the team with 39 RBIs and also has a team-best .538 slugging percentage.
Another Sophomore Sensation
• First Baseman Brian Ragira, along with classmate Austin Wilson are the only two players this season to play every game at the same position (Kennuy Diekroeger and Stephen Piscotty have also played every game). Ragira ranks second on the club with 40 RBIs to go alogn with a .323 average.
Speaking of Sophomores...
• A.J. Vanegas is the third talented member of the sophomore class. The Alameda righthander has been the team’s closer (two saves), a spot starter (2-0, 3.22 ERA in five starts) and reliever (1.64 ERA in eight games) this season. Overall he is 3-0 with a 2.44 ERA over 44.1 innings. Opponents are hitting .228 against him.
Jose Gets His Shot, Delivers
• Freshman outfielder Dominic Jose, the son of former major leaguer Felix Jose, has made the most of his limited opportunities, which has led to more playing time as of late. Jose had a pinch-hit double in the series opener and five-run ninth inning at Oregon State and also had a key RBI groundout on Sunday to cut the lead to 4-3 in the ninth of an eventual extra inning loss. His first career hit, against Saint Mary’s on April 2, started a five-run, game-tying rally. Overall he is 3-for-9 on the year.
Quickest Way to Drive Them In
• With just three at-bats over the first six weeks of the season, freshman Alex Blandino began making noise on March 26, when he had his first start of the season. Since then the Palo Alto infielder has started 11 games at designated hitter and 12 at third base, batting .298 with 28 RBIs in 25 games.
• 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 versus 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).