Fresh off a season-opening trip to Rice, in which No. 11 Stanford (1-2) took one out of three games, the Cardinal head home to take on the cross-Bay rival California Golden Bears (3-0) in the home opener at Sunken Diamond today at 5 p.m.
Mother nature provided an extra day off for Stanford following its Houston road trip this weekend. Today’s game was originally scheduled for yesterday at 5:30 p.m., but the rain caused Stanford to postpone the first of five meetings against Cal this season.
Last season, Stanford and Cal split the season series with each team winning two of the four games. Stanford started the series with a 19-6 thrashing of Cal in Berkeley in non-conference action. However, Cal got the last laugh, spoiling Stanford’s chances at a top-eight national seed in the NCAA Tournament with wins over the Cardinal on Friday — in 18 innings — and Saturday — 15-5 marking Stanford’s biggest margin of defeat of 2012 — in the last regular season series for both squads.
Cal head coach David Esquer ’87 makes his annual return to The Farm to take on his former college coach and boss Mark Marquess. Esquer, who served as Marquess’ No. 2 assistant from 1991 to 1996, is entering his 14th season at the helm of the Bears.
Cal enters today’s contest coming off a three-game sweep of Michigan in Berkeley. However, the sweep was anything but easy for the Bears. Cal won by one run in walk-off fashion in all three contests, needing extra innings in two of the three to dispose of the pesky Wolverines.
Designated hitter Devon Rodriguez leads the Golden Bears with a .583 batting average on the young season. Cal freshman left fielder Brian Celsi’s college career got started with a bang when he knocked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth Sunday to secure the sweep. That hit represented Celsi’s lone RBI, but he is second on the team with a .462 batting average.
For Stanford, the pitchers have gotten off to a strong start but the hitting has lagged behind. Stanford’s staff ERA in the weekend series against Rice was 2.52, led by freshmen Marcus Brakeman, Daniel Starwalt and Bobby Zarubin who combined for 8.1 scoreless innings of relief.
The one freshman pitcher to allow runs at Rice on Sunday was starter Logan James. The lefty got off to a tough start, allowing the first three runners of the game to score while recording only one out. However, James buckled down, retiring eight straight hitters and allowing only one additional base runner in his remaining 3.1 innings of work.
At the plate, Stanford only managed to hit .167 on the weekend. Junior Danny Diekroeger and senior Justin Ringo lead all Cardinal hitters with a .333 batting average. Junior Austin Wilson missed the final two games of the Rice series because of an arm injury. Wilson’s role in today’s game could provide insight into how serious the injury is.
After Cal, Stanford hosts Fresno State at Sunken Diamond in a three game series starting Friday. First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Contact Sam Fisher at safisher “at” stanford.edu.