May 14, 2012
No. 12-ranked Stanford (32-14, 14-10 Pac-12) will host San Francisco (27-28) on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. prior to a road trip to last place Utah (13-35, 7-20 Pac-12) on Friday at 5 p.m. PT, Saturday at 3 p.m. PT and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. PT. Stanford swept Washington State this past weekend, hitting .340 for the weekend. All-everything utility man Stephen Piscotty leads the Cardinal in batting (.344) and RBIs (50) and was the team's Saturday starter, tossing 6.1 innings in the series clincher. Fellow junior Mark Appel leads the Pac-12 in strikeouts.
In the Rankings
Stanford's rankings remained virtually unchanged at No. No. 12 in the USA Today/Coaches poll, No. 15 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 17 in Baseball America. Prior to last 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 Hilltop
(Bat: .293, ERA: 4.67, Field: .978)
USF is coming off a sweep of Santa Clara this past weekend having won seven of his last nine and the last four in a row. Justin Maffei not only leads the WCC in steals (24-for-29) but also has a team-best .328 average and 45 runs. Nik Balog has a team-best 40 RBIs. The Dons rank first in the WCC in doubles and steals. On the mound, they have a league-low nine saves, ranking third in the league in ERA (3.16) thanks to weekend starter and one of the nation's top arms in Kyle Zimmer (5-3, 2.59 ERA).
Stanford leads the all-time series with the Hilltop, 86-17-2 since 1959. Stanford has faced Utah just once, winning in 1965.Pac-12 Race
Oregon (18-8) remains the leader with two weeks to play, ahead of Arizona (16-8). UCLA (15-9), Stanford and ASU (both 14-10) round out the top-five.Draft Status
The annual MLB draft (this year reduced to 40 rounds from 50) will take place on June 4-6. The first round and compensation picks will occur at 4 p.m. ET on the MLB Network. Rounds 2-15 will take occur on June 5 and rounds 16-40 will take place on June 6. The MLB Network will televise all the picks.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.
Cardinal Sweep Past Washington State
No. 12-ranked Stanford topped the 30-win plateau for the 30th time since 1981 (32 years), hitting .340 in the three-game series while limiting the Cougars to just six runs. In the opener, Mark Appel (8-1) won his fourth-straight start, pitching 8.0 strong innings of two-run baseball. Appel hit double digits for strikeouts for the sixth time this season, striking out 10. On Saturday, Stephen Piscotty (3-2) in his first career start on the mound, pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three runs (one) on six hits in an 8-3 win. He also helped himself with three hits at the plate. On Sunday, Brett Mooneyham (6-4) pitched 7.0 shutout innnings and Dominic Jose, in his first career start, hit a grand slam in the 6-1 win.
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 Memorial Day Weekend, next weekend on the calendars, both championship teams will be honored on the field in a pregame ceremony. That Cal team is coached by former shortstop David Esquer, who was the starting shortstop in 1987. Three members of those teams are now head coaches in Esquer, Ed Sprague (Pacific) and Mark Macholf (Gonzaga).
Wilson Driving His Way up the Charts
Rightfielder Austin Wilson enters the week third in the Pac-12 in homers (9), third in runs scored (48) and tenth in slugging (.542) to go along with his .304 average. He is two homers behind three league leaders with 11 homers a piece.
Defensive Gems, Right and Left
On Sunday, Austin Wilson threw out a player at the plate (the third time this year he has done that) and in the sixth inning made back-to-back defensive efforts for the highlight reel. He caught a ball at the warning track crashing into the wall in a two-run game in the sixth, and then three pitches later, chased another ball down in the gap to keep Stanford in front.
Ultimate Utility Guy
Stephen Piscotty has started every game in his career (159), adding a new starting assignment this past weekend. After 10 appearances out of the bullpen, Piscotty started on the mound, tossing 6.1 innings, while giving up three runs (one earned) on six hits. Piscotty also retired the first eight Cougars he faced. Piscotty, who has started in left and third this season (and at first as a freshman), is currently the club leader in average (.344) and second in the Pac-12 in RBIs (50). On the mound, Piscotty is 3-2 with one save in nine games. He has a 2.49 ERA over 21.2 innings.
Impressive Credentials on the Mound
RHP Mark Appel (8-1, 2.68 ERA) enters his weekend start with a Pac-12 leading 95 strikeouts in 94.0 innings after producing his sixth 10-strikeout game of the season. Four of those opponents were in the national top-10. Appel has also gone 7.0 innings or better in 11 of 12 starts.
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 14-8 as the team's No. 1 starter.
Playing Like a Veteran
Dominic Jose, who had nine career at-bats heading into last weekend, made his first two career starts against the Cougars, and delivered. He had a sacrfice fly and a walk in his first career start-- in left, on Saturday, and followed that up with a grand slam on Sunday in his second start, this time at designated hitter. Jose is 5-for-14 so far in his young career with five runs and seven RBIs in 13 games.
LHP Brett Mooneyham rebounded on Sunday with 7.0 shutout innings to move to 6-4 on the season. Ranking third in the Pac-12 in strikeouts, the lefthander has struck out at least seven in eight of 11 starts this season. Mooneyham had started the season 5-0.
Finding a Way Into the Lineup
Along with Dominic Jose, Danny Diekroeger made his first start in the field this past weekend-- starting twice at second base. The sophomore infielder is hitting .327 in 12 starts (and 23 games) overall this year with 10 runs and seven RBIs.
Crushing the Opposition
Stanford enters the week second in the Pac-12 in homers (37), doubles (100), runs (317) and slugging (.435). The Cardinal have scored in the first innings 12 times this year (going 11-1) and are a combined 24-1 when scoring six or more runs.
Speaking of Doubles
Stanford enters the week with five players with at least 10 doubles this season, which equates to the Pac-12's second-highest total of the season (100) and one of only two Pac-12 clubs to hit the century mark. Kenny Diekroger leads the club with 14 doubles.
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.
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.
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
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).