Dean McArdle breaks out the rally bats
Entering the season, many expected Stanford baseball would have to again ride its offense in its 2013 bid for Omaha. So far, though, the Cardinal's pitching has kept the team afloat. An impressive scoreless streak lives into this weekend's home series with Fresno State. Read and listen on!
Stanford's 2-2 record to open the 2013 season won't turn any heads,
but the young pitching staff's superb performance thus far certainly
shines a positive light on the club's prospects. Following Tuesday's
5-0 home opening shutout over California, Cardinal arms have pitched
16.2 consecutive scoreless innings. Most impressively, centerpiece
Mark Appel has not been a part of that streak. Instead, the credit goes to Logan James, Bobby Zarubin, Dean McArdle, David Schmidt, Marcus
Brakeman, and Sam Lindquist.
Of those six, only McArdle
and Lindquist are upperclassmen. James, Zarubin, and Brakeman are all freshmen, while
Schmidt is a sophomore. And John Hochstatter, another second-year
man, pitched well enough to set the Cardinal up for the Saturday win
in Houston with even more shutout help from freshman Daniel Starwalt
and redshirt junior Garrett Hughes.
The Farm Boys' bullpen has yet to give up a run in 18 innings of
work. They've struck out 14 batters and walked only three, all while
the team's freshman arms, deemed question marks at the beginning
of the season, have endured only one run-scoring inning. That was
James' first frame of work at Rice, from which he quickly bounced back
to shut the Owls out the rest of the way.
In fact, Stanford's worst pitching performance has come from
possibly the nation's best arm. Appel surrendered five runs (only
two earned) in five innings to open the season, but there's little
worry that he'll settle into dominant form. The rest of the staff
was the true question mark, and those hurlers have acquitted
themselves beautifully thus far. Through four games last season, the
Cardinal had given up 20 runs. This year, Stanford pitching has
allowed only 10 runs.
"I've been impressed," Stanford
head coach Mark Marquess said. "[Pitching] coach [Rusty] Filter has done a
good job with the staff. A lot of young guys have pitched. We're throwing the ball over the
plate, and we're keeping the ball down for the most part."
The Cardinal's strengths have flipped in a year's time. In 2012, the offense exploded for 44 runs
through the season's first four games. This year, Stanford is 35
runs short of that number: they've plated only nine through four
After recording only one hit in Sunday's season finale at Rice,
Stanford logged four knocks against one out in Tuesday's first inning to chase Cal
starter Chris Muse-Fisher. This
early offensive success was a welcome sight for a team that had
struggled with the Owls' sharp breaking pitches over the weekend,
hitting only .167 as a team in Houston.
"We really struggled with the bats at Rice. They attacked us really
well," Marquess said. "They threw really good breaking balls, and
early in the year, we really hadn't seen that breaking ball. But it
was good for us."
Danny Diekroeger's quality at-bats have masterfully utilized the
open hole on the right side of the infield, while freshman
shortstop/centerfielder Drew Jackson, the team's fastest player,
showed off his wheels in the leadoff spot by recording hits on a
pair of rollers to the shortstop. Meanwhile, senior Justin Ringo, who tripled
Tuesday, is off to a hot start after a rough 2012 season. He's
hitting a team-best .364.
But the Cardinal lineup is far from permanently set, and there are
several candidates for increased playing time and upgrades in
the batting order. Sophomore Austin Slater recorded his first
two career hits and first RBI Tuesday, while Lonnie Kauppila walked
two more times as he continued to showcase his improved plate
discipline. Kauppila is hitless through 11 plate appearances, but he
still owns a team-leading .636 on-base percentage! Credit seven free
passes in four games for the mark, a year after the shortstop walked
only 10 times in 31 games. If this patience persists, expect
Kauppila to hit near the top of the lineup more often than not.
Stanford must continue its search for offensive consistency and
identity without its most feared bat. Marquess said slugger Austin Wilson, who strained his elbow in the season opener, "may be out a
couple weeks." The right fielder, who dazzled with his power during
intrasquads, is still fighting soreness in his elbow. Freshman Zach Hoffpauir played in Wilson's spot Tuesday, while sophomore Dominic Jose, who is looking to find his rhythm after starting the season 1-8, is another
option, particularly if Ringo or Brian Guymon can hold down left field for the time being.
Speaking of the dual sport man Hoffpauir, a slew of Stanford
football players and coaches came out to support their strong safety
Tuesday. Ben Gardner, David Parry, Derek Mason, Lance Anderson,
Tavita Pritchard, and Mike Sanford were all among the crew on hand
to see the Cardinal beat Cal -- again.
David Lombardi is the Stanford
Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com.
Are you fully subscribed to The
Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on
all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our
award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in
Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com