Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 26, 2010

Baseball is perfect Thus far

Cardinal takes a 4-0 record on road to face No. 3 Texas in a big three-game series

The Stanford baseball team won't be lacking for any momentum when it takes on nationally No. 3-ranked Texas in a three-game series this weekend in Austin.

The Cardinal will open up Friday's game with a 4-0 mark while the Longhorns are 2-2.

Stanford, ranked 18th nationally, is coming off an 11-6 nonleague victory over visiting Pacific on Wednesday night. Junior Colin Walsh picked a good time for his first career home run, as his grand slam in the sixth lifted the Cardinal past the Tigers (2-2).

The all-conference second baseman and returning starter at second base was playing in his 91st game in a Cardinal uniform.

The game saw five lead changes through six innings before Walsh connected on his slam to right field to make it 8-5. Pacific had led 2-0, 3-2 and 5-4, while the Cardinal had led 4-3 previously in the fifth.

Brian Busick (1-0) got the win with a scoreless sixth, surrendering the go-ahead sacrifice fly to make it 5-4, while John Prato Matthews (0-1) got the loss after not being able to hold the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Cardinal freshman Stephen Piscotty drove in two runs and scored a key run, while classmate Kenny Diekroeger from Menlo School had two doubles and in infield single.

Piscotty's smart base running led to the fifth- inning lead, as following a run-scoring error, the freshman scored from second, beating catcher Joe Oliveira back to home following a throwing error from left.

Piscotty had tied the game at 2-2 in the third on a two-run single. Zach Jones' second home run of the season, a three-run shot in the eighth, put the contest out of reach at 11-5.

Stanford is off to its first 4-0 start since the 2000 College World Series runnerup season. The Cardinal heads to Texas averaging 9 1/2 runs a game while batting .336.

Uncharacteristic of the club is its nine errors and .944 fielding percentage, including five of those errors coming from its middle infielders, shortstop Jake Schlander and Walsh at second. The Cardinal also is posting a 4.25 ERA on the mound.

Stanford will send to the hill this weekend, Jordan Pries (1-0, 1.17), who is the only Cardinal starting pitcher with a win this season; Scott Snodgress (0-0, 4.26), who is coming off a career-best 6.1 innings, and Brett Mooneyham (0-0, 5.06), the third sophomore in the starting rotation.

Texas, the preseason No. 1, returns five starters and arguably has the nation's best pitching staff — returning its entire weekend rotation. Last year's team posted the second-lowest ERA in the country (2.95).

Texas won 50 games last year, going 50-16-1, winning the Big 12. Taylor Jungmann, who posted the only win against New Mexico, is the Longhorns' top pitcher, having gone 11-3 with a 2.00 ERA last year. His battery mate, catcher Cameron Rung, hit .292 with 11 homers last year. They were noted by Baseball America as the team of the first decade of 2000, featuring recent greats as Kyle Russell and Huston Street.

Texas, after beating Dallas Baptist 7-2 on Wednesday and losing a weekend series at home to New Mexico, has allowed just 10 earned runs over the first 36 innings (2.50 ERA) and an opponent batting average of .257.

Football

Toby Gerhart's path to the NFL officially started Thursday as he joined other professional prospects at the NFL Combine being held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

Gerhart will take his physical and participate in team interviews. He will be officially measured on Friday and also be evaluated in a series of weightlifting drills before being interviewed by more teams that evening.

He is scheduled to meet with the media, the NFL Players' Association and more team officials on Saturday.

Gerhart will go through a series of running, jumping and agility drills on Sunday, with team executives paying close attention to his 40-yard dash time.

Fans can view the proceedings from Indianapolis live on the NFL Network and also track the progress of players on-line at NFL.com.

Women's tennis

Stacey Tan beat Alyssa Nafarrette in straight sets to clinch Stanford's 7-0 victory over visiting Hawaii in a nonconference match Wednesday afternoon.

The 11th-ranked Cardinal (7-0) travels to No. 4 UCLA to open a two-match, nonconference road trip Friday at 1:30 p.m. Stanford plays at No. 9 USC in a noon start Saturday.

Carolyn McVeigh and Veronica Li clinched the doubles at the No. 3 spot, and McVeigh and Mallory Burdette each won their singles match to set up Tan's match-clinching victory.

Stanford won its 156th consecutive home match, a streak that stretches to February of 1999.

For a perspective on such a streak consider that the Stanford football team's best home winning streak over that time is last fall's five-game streak. Overall the Cardinal is 35-30 at home since the beginning of the 1999 season.

Men's tennis

Nationally No. 8-ranked Stanford enters the week at 7-2 overall. The Cardinal continues its five-match homestand this weekend when UCLA and USC come to town. Both squads start the week ranked in the top-10, with the Bruins rated No. 6 and the Trojans ranked No. 5. These contests will not count toward the Pac-10 standings. The ones that do count are scheduled for early April in Los Angeles.

Stanford takes on the Bruins on Friday at 1:30 p.m., and the Trojans on Saturday at noon at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Stanford already has faced two top-10 clubs this year, falling to No. 8 Texas 4-0 and defeating No. 10 Kentucky 4-2 at the National Team Indoor Championships.

The latest edition of the ITA rankings shows two players ranked in singles, as Bradley Klahn is No. 18 and Alex Clayton is No. 34. The doubles team of Klahn and Ryan Thacher is No. 2 while the pairing of Clayton and Richard Wire is No. 26.

Track and field

The Stanford men and women are in Seattle this weekend to compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. The unranked women will be looking to defend their title, while the No. 14 men will be looking for their first title in school history.

The meet begins Friday and continues on Saturday. Once again, the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor Stadium will play host to the indoor conference championships.

Last season, the Stanford women put on an impressive display in winning the fifth MPSF title in school history and the first since 2006. The Cardinal scored 115 points, finishing well clear of second-place Oregon with 91.5 points. Individually, the Cardinal had four conference champions, including returners Arantxa King in the long jump and Kate Niehaus in the 5,000 meters.

This season, Stanford already has six NCAA provisional qualifiers and one automatic qualifier. Katerina Stefanidi set a school indoor record in the pole vault (14-0) and punched her ticket to the NCAA meet. Her mark currently ranks as tied for eighth in the nation.

The provisional qualifiers in the field are King in the long jump with a mark of 20-7 , which ranks 13th and Whitney Liehr in the triple jump at 41-10 . Liehr is also the top qualifier in the MPSF entering the meet.

On the track, three women have earned provisional standards in the 5,000 meters. Stephanie Marcy (16:19.72) leads the way ranked 17th nationally, while Georgia Griffin (16:38.25) and Kate Niehaus (16:41.07) have also earned provisional marks. In the sprints, Griffin Matthew earned a provisional mark in the 200 meters with a time of 23.80 to rank 18th.

The Cardinal women will face tough competition from No. 1 Oregon and No. 16 Arizona, among others. The Ducks have the top qualifier in eight events and both relays entering the meet. Washington and Arizona State join the Cardinal as contenders to upset Oregon.

On the men's side, Stanford faces a deep field that features five teams in the top 25 as No. 2 Oregon, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 18 Arizona and No. 24 California will join Stanford in an attempt to unseat UCLA as the conference champion.

Last season, the Cardinal finished seventh with 68 points as the top nine places were separated buy just 29.5 points. The top six spots were separated by just 8.5 points. Stanford's only conference champion from a season ago, Myles Bradley, in the 60-meter hurdles, was lost to graduation. However, the Cardinal has plenty of candidates for a conference title this season. Stanford already has amassed 12 provisional standards and two automatic standards for NCAAs this season.

The distance contingent leads the way for Stanford with Justin Marpole-Bird (3:58.76) and Dylan Ferris (3:58.90) earning auto standards in the mile. The two times rank sixth and eighth nationally. Each also has earned provisional standards in a second event with Marpole-Bird (7:57.15) ranking 15th nationally in the 3,000 meters and Ferris (1:48.67) ranking 11th in the 800 meters.

The other standout this season has been Jake Riley, who ranks 10th nationally in the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:52.87. He also earned the provisional standard in the 3,000 with a time of 8:02.73.

Considering the depth of the distance program, it is no surprise that the Cardinal rank second nationally in the distance medley relay with a time of 9:30.25. Sullivan, Amaechi Morton, Ferris and Marpole-Bird combined for that provisional standard, which is just off the nation's top time from Oregon. This sets up a battle that could be one of the highlights of the meet.

The other provisional standards for Stanford came in the field events with Jules Sharpe in the high jump and Geoffrey Tabor in the shot put. Sharpe ranks 20th in the high jump (7-1), while Tabor ranks 33rd in the shot put (58-5 ).

Men's volleyball

Brad Lawson recorded 11 kills and had four service aces and Stanford beat visiting UC Santa Cruz, 30-19, 30-27, 30-14, in a nonconference match Wednesday night.

Kawika Shoji and Evan Berry combined for 43 assists and Jordan Inafuku had 13 digs for the second-ranked Cardinal (9-4).

Stanford travels to Pacific for a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at 7 p.m. Friday.

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