2/15 - 2/17 Baseball Games of the Week

Stanford College Baseball Mark Appel

2/15 - 2/17 Baseball Games of the Week

Stony Brook vs. FIU
Stony Brook: Most times this would seem like an odd series to be listed in a top matchup list, but after last season’s miraculous Stony Brook run to the College World Series, the Seawolves are back to prove last year’s success wasn’t a fluke. This year won’t be as easy, however, as Stony Brook had seven players drafted in the Major League Baseball Draft, including five in the first 12 rounds. Outfielder Steve Goldstein returns as the leading hitter after hitting for a .337 average and a returning high of four home runs. He’ll be joined by infielder Kevin Courtney, who also hit four home runs and drove in 38 RBIs. Catcher Kevin Krause hit .330 IN 61 games, while knocking in 40 RBIs.

Stony Brook pitcher Brandon McNitt is the top returning starting pitcher for the Seawolves. Last season he compiled an 8-4 record in 17 starts with a 2.76 ERA. He also struck out 63 batters in just over 104 innings. Frankie Vanderka, also a junior, had a 3-3 record in 21 appearances, six of which were starts. He had a 2.33 ERA.
FIU: After losing 17 players, FIU brings in a squad of 22 newcomers, nine of which are junior college players. Outfielder Nathan Burns was arguably the team’s best hitter last season. Despite finishing second in average (.317), he hit an impressive nine triples; the rest of the team had a combined seven. He also led the team in RBIs with 48. Second baseman T.J. Shantz returns after knocking out 69 hits, nine doubles, five homers and 33 RBIs. He also struck out the least on the team, whiffing a mere 25 times. Sophomore catcher Aramis Garcia leads the returnees in home runs with six.

Only one starting pitcher, Michael Ellis, returns. In 14 starts, Ellis had a 3-2 record with a 3.13 ERA. He also had a team-high 88 strikeouts. Closer Michael Gomez also returns after saving 13 contests. He finished with a 3.76 ERA.


#7 Stanford vs. #15 Rice
Rice: Rice is coming off of a disappointing season, one in which they were upset in their own regional, despite being the top seed in said regional. The Owls bring back four of their top eight hitters from a year ago, including Christian Stringer, who led the team in average (.343), hits (81), runs (58) and triples (3). Despite his .233 average, Michael Ratterree had the distinction of having 20 of his 44 hits go for extra bases. He had 13 doubles (second on the team), six home runs (third on the team), 32 RBIs and a team-high 42 walks.

The pitching staff loses two of its top three starters, as Andrew Benak and Matthew Reckling have moved on. Austin Kubitza, who had a 6-5 record, 2.69 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 16 appearances (15 starts), will most likely be looked upon to lead the starting staff. Jordan Stephens, who started eight of his 14 appearances, will be asked to take on a bigger load.
Stanford: Stanford is coming off of a Super Regional appearance and comes in with high expectations. The Cardinal return three Preseason All-Americans in Mark Appel, Brian Ragira and Austin Wilson. Appel is by the far the leader of the pitching staff, if not the entire team. After turning down an offer by the Pirates after being the second overall draft pick in the MLB Draft, he looks to build upon last season. That might be hard considering he compiled a 10-2 record, 2.56 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 2012.  John Hochstatter had a 3-3 record in nine starts and AJ Vanegas had five saves last season.

Three stud hitters return- Ragira, Wilson and Alex Blandino. Ragira had a .329 average last year, as well as 15 doubles and 50 RBI. Wilson mashed ten home runs and 54 RBIs, while Blandino had a .294 average with eight homers and 40 RBIs.


#1 Vanderbilt vs. Long Beach State

Vanderbilt: Despite coming off of a 35-28 season that saw them lose in the regional portion of the NCAA tournament, Vanderbilt has great expectations in 2013.  Backed by the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation, Vanderbilt is ranked second in Baseball America’s Pre-season poll. They finished last season unranked. One reason for the optimism is that the team returns six of its top seven hitters from a year ago. Conrad Gregor returns after knocking a team-high 20 doubles, 35 RBI and being a perfect 10-of-10 in stolen bases. Mike Yastrzemski was second in home runs with six and RBIs with 47. He also stole 14 bases. Tony Kemp was the team’s table setter, with 11 doubles, a team-high eight triples and a team-high 21 stolen bases.

Kevin Ziomek started a team-high 16 games, finishing with a 5-6 record, 5.22 ERA and 79 K’s. The pitching staff will be bolstered by the addition of stud pitching recruits Walker Buehler and Carson Fulmer. Both were drafted in the top 15 rounds of the MLB Draft, but chose to go to Vanderbilt.
Long Beach State: Like its opponent, Long Beach State brings back many of its top hitters, seven of its top ten to be exact. Five of those hit .278 or better. Johnny Bekakis hit .290 with nine doubles, while Juan Avila had ten doubles, a team-high two home runs and 30 RBI.
Ryan Strufing started a team-high 15 games last season and finished tied for a team-high seven wins. Strufing also had a 2.99 ERA. Kyle Friedrichs had ten saves, a 1.88 ERA and 39 strikeouts in his 38 innings of work.


#18 TCU vs. #20 Ole Miss

TCU: Coming off of a Super Regional appearance, TCU is looking to get off to a fast start as it transitions to the Big 12. While the Horned Frogs return just two of their top six hitters, six other players saw playing time in over 30 games, with four starting 33 games or more. Despite only starting 43 games, Kevin Cron leads the returnees with a .338 average, six home runs and 34 RBIs.

While the hitting might not be returnee-laden, the pitching staff brings back its top four starters, including Preston Morrison and Stefan Crichton, who each went 9-2. Morrison also led the team with a 2.08 ERA in his 22 appearances, 11 of which were starts. He only walked 12 hitters, while striking out 72. Andrew Mitchell struck out 101 hitters.

Ole Miss: The Rebels bring back six of their top ten hitters, led by Tanner Mathis. The senior outfielder hit .359, while hitting 12 doubles. The Rebels don’t bring back much power, but four of the six returnees had at least 52 hits. Will Allen also returns after a 61-hit, 24-RBI and 11-double season.

Two of the team’s top three starters, Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, return. Both juniors appeared in 17 games, Wahl starting all of them, while Mayers started 15. Wahl finished with a 7-4 record and 2.55 ERA with 104 strikeouts. Mayers finished 6-3 with a 3.50 ERA. Brett Huber, who saved 10 games, also returns.