Baseball Season Wrap-Up

Sam Fuld

The 2004 Stanford Baseball season ended earlier than most expected as the Cardinal were knocked off in regional play. However, despite the disappointing ending, there is plenty to look back on and celebrate about this special Stanford baseball team. Read on for comments about what went right and what went wrong this year for the Cardinal. In addition, check out all the final stats, who is going home with postseason awards, a recap of the top five games of '04, and a look to the future.

Final Overall Record: 46-14
Conference Record: 16-8 (Pac-10 Champions)
Home Record: 29-5
Road Record: 17-9

The 2004 baseball season ended earlier than most expected as the Cardinal were knocked out of the NCAA Regionals by a hungry Long Beach State team at Sunken Diamond.  Stanford had a terrific regular season posting a 44-12 overall record while they were ranked #1 or #2 in the country from late February through the beginning of the postseason.  But they ran into the 1-2 starting pitching punch of Jered Weaver and Cesar Ramos in the Palo Alto Regional and that combined with a struggling Cardinal pitching staff led to the premature downfall of Stanford here in 2004.

Through the first week of May, it appeared Stanford was on their way to fielding possibly the greatest team in the history of the program.  Following a convincing home sweep of Washington State the first weekend of May and a Tuesday night win over San Jose State, the Cardinal were sitting pretty at 36-6 to go with the #1 national ranking.  Back-to-back series losses at Washington and Arizona brought Stanford back down to earth though as Stanford all of a sudden was in a dogfight for the conference title.  A return to Sunken Diamond got the Cardinal back on track as they managed a pair of series wins over USC and nationally ranked Arizona State to close the regular season and claim the program's sixth Pac-10 title in the last eight seasons.

But the season would not continue for very much longer.  After an easy 10-4 win over UNLV in the regional opener, Stanford had to deal with Dirtbags ace and National Player of the Year Jered Weaver in the all-important Saturday afternoon regional game.  Weaver dominated for eight innings holding Stanford to two runs (one earned) and Long Beach jumped all over Mark Romanczuk and Kodiak Quick to the tune of seven runs over the first seven innings.  The Cardinal made a valiant comeback effort in the bottom of the ninth against the Dirtbags' bullpen as they plated two and brought the tying run to the plate in the person of Jed Lowrie.  But Lowrie just missed what would have been quite possibly the most dramatic home run in Sunken Diamond history when he flied out to the wall in deep left center field.

Stanford kept their CWS hopes alive that night with a 7-2 win over St. John's, but their season would quickly come to an end the following afternoon when The Beach handed the Cardinal an 8-4 defeat.  Making the first start of his career, David O'Hagan was tagged for six runs on three two-run homers in just 2 2/3 innings and that would be more than enough for the All-American Ramos.  Stanford has baserunners in every inning (often in scoring position), but lacked the big hit that would get them back in the game and so the season abruptly came to an end.


By-The-Numbers

Single-Season Team
Team Batting Average: .324 - third highest in school history
Home Runs: 96 - second highest in school history
Fielding Percentage: .974 - second highest in school history

Single-Season Individual
Jed Lowrie: Batting Average - .399 (7th highest in a single-season), Runs - 72 (Tied for 10th)

Career Individual
Sam Fuld: Runs - 268 (1st), Hits - 356 (2nd), Doubles - 58 (Tied for 6th), Triples - 16 (Tied for 3rd)
Matt Manship: Saves - 12 (Tied for 8th)


Statistics

Batting
* Jed Lowrie: .399, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 6 SB
* Danny Putnam: .378, 16 HR, 62 RBI, 6 SB
* Jonny Ash: .372, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 2 SB
* Brian Hall: .356, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 15 SB
* John Mayberry, Jr.: .333, 16 HR, 62 RBI, 9 SB
* Donny Lucy: .313, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 5 SB
* Chris Carter: .289, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 1 SB
* Sam Fuld: .273, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 9 SB
* Chris Minaker: .270, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 3 SB

* Ryan Seawell: .333, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB
* John Hester: .265, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB
* Jim Rapoport: .250, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB
* Chris Lewis: .233, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB
* Adam Sorgi: .214, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB
* Ben Summerhays: .167, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB
* Cameron Matthews: .000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
* Joe Ayers: DNP
* Josh Corn: DNP
* Zach Gianos: DNP
* Ryan Kissick: DNP

Team Batting Average: .324


Pitching
* Mark Romanczuk: 11-3, 4.31 ERA, 108.2 IP, 94 SO
* Jeff Gilmore: 10-2, 4.43 ERA, 107.2 IP, 77 SO
* Matt Leva: 6-2, 4.29 ERA, 35.2 IP, 19 SO

* David O'Hagan: 6-2, 2.97 ERA, 6 SV, 57.2 IP, 58 SO
* Kodiak Quick: 1-0, 3.62 ERA, 1 SV, 27.1 IP, 20 SO
* Matt Manship: 0-0, 4.19 ERA, 3 SV, 34.1 IP, 23 SO
* Blake Holler: 4-2, 4.34 ERA, 2 SV, 58.0 IP, 49 SO
* Jeff Stimpson: 1-2, 4.68 ERA, 1 SV, 32.2 IP, 23 SO
* Greg Reynolds: 4-1, 6.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, 15 SO
* Mark Jecmen: 1-0, 6.64 ERA, 20.1 IP, 24 SO

* Drew Ehrlich: 1-0, 3.14 ERA, 14.1 IP, 13 SO
* Jonny Dyer: 1-0, 4.82 ERA, 9.1 IP, 6 SO
* Pete Duda: 0-0, 8.44 ERA, 5.1 IP, 2 SO
* Logan Ardis: DNP
* Noah Hawthorne: DNP

Team Earned Run Average: 4.35


Top Five Games of 2004

5. May 2nd: Stanford 17, Washington State 3 - Single game records aren't kept at Stanford, but the fans in attendance on this warm Sunday afternoon at Sunken Diamond probably witnessed history as the Cardinal blasted a whopping eight home runs as a team en route to a 17-3 victory over the Cougars.  Donny Lucy got things started with a two-run homer in the second and then Sam Fuld did the same thing four batters later.  In the third, it was back-to-back solo home runs from John Mayberry, Jr. and Danny Putnam.  Chris Lewis connected for a two-run homer in the fourth.  In the fifth, Putnam smoked his second long ball of the day while in the bottom of the sixth, Brian Hall and Chris Carter got into the act with back-to-back round-trippers.   The damage could have been worse for Wazzu had the game not been called off after 6 1/2 innings.

4. March 6th: Stanford 8, USC 7 (13 innings) - The Cardinal looked dead in the water as they trailed 7-3 at the start of the top of the ninth down at Dedeaux Field.  But a two-run home run from Jonny Ash cut the lead down to 7-6 and then an RBI single off the bat of John Mayberry, Jr. made the score even at 7-7.  The Trojans had runners in scoring position off David O'Hagan in the bottom of the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th innings, but each time the senior closer escaped without giving up the winning run.  Finally in the top of the 13th, consecutive singles from Ash, Jed Lowrie, and Danny Putnam gave Stanford the lead while Matt Manship fired a 1-2-3 bottom half to secure the victory.

3. April 3rd: Stanford 15, UCLA 13 - On the strength of home runs from Sam Fuld and Danny Putnam, the Cardinal stormed out to an 11-2 advantage through 4 1/2 innings.  But the Bruins would not give up as they chipped away at the lead before finally tying the game in the bottom of the eighth at 13-13 on a three-run homer off David O'Hagan.  However, Stanford would not accept defeat as senior third baseman Jonny Ash smoked a two-run home run well over the wall in right field with one out in the ninth to give the Cardinal back the lead at 15-13.  It was Ash's second home run of the game.  O'Hagan worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to seal the win.

2. February 15th: Stanford 10, Kansas 6 - The Cardinal handled the Jayhawks in the first two games of the series, but found themselves down 6-3 at the start of the bottom of the ninth in the finale.  The first batter of the inning went down, but the next seven would reach base safely capped by Brian Hall's walkoff grand slam to propel Stanford to a dramatic 10-6 win.  Donny Lucy's RBI single tied the game at 6-6 and the bases remained loaded for Hall.  Needing just a fly ball to the outfield to win the game, Hall instead decided to end the contest with an exclamation point as he crushed the first pitch he saw for a grand slam and a series sweep for Stanford.

1. May 22nd: Stanford 5, USC 4 - The Cardinal badly needed a win after dropping the series opener to the Trojans as a Pac-10 title was on the line.  Stanford trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth and the first two batters of the inning went down without much of a fight.  But then up stepped John Hester as a pinch hitter and the backup catcher delivered a ringing double off the wall in center.  Sam Fuld was up next and it what turned out to be the final great moment of his illustrious Stanford career, the senior center fielder singled up the middle to score Hester from second with the tying run.  But when the ball rolled under the glove of SC center fielder Daniel Perales, Fuld raced all the way around the bases and scored the go-ahead run as Sunken Diamond erupted.  David O'Hagan slammed the door in the ninth to secure the 5-4 win.


Honors

All-Americans
* Jed Lowrie - Unanimous All-American, First Team selections by Baseball America, Sports Weekly, and Louisville Slugger.
* Danny Putnam - First Team All-American (Baseball America)
* John Mayberry, Jr. - Third Team All-American (Baseball America)
* Mark Romanczuk - Third Team All-American (Louisville Slugger)

All-Pac-10
* Jed Lowrie - Pac-10 Player of the Year
* Jonny Ash - All-Pac-10
* Brian Hall - All-Pac-10
* Donny Lucy - All-Pac-10
* John Mayberry, Jr. - All-Pac-10
* David O'Hagan - All-Pac-10
* Danny Putnam - All-Pac-10
* Mark Romanczuk - All-Pac-10
(Eight selections is a school-record)
* Sam Fuld - Honorable Mention
* Jeff Gilmore - Honorable Mention


Season Analysis / A Look to the Future

The ending wasn't what we all had hoped for this team, but the ride during the regular season was certainly an unforgettable one.  Stanford absolutely crushed the opposition during the first three months of the season.  On May 5th before their trip up to Seattle, the Cardinal stood tall at 36-6 and 10-2 in Pac-10 play.  Their six losses had been by a grand total of 11 runs while Stanford had not trailed by more than five runs in any one contest all season.  Included were series wins over the two teams currently playing in the CWS Championship Series: Texas and Cal State Fullerton.  Complete and utter domination.

The season really turned starting with that series up at Washington as the Cardinal lost a heartbreaking 3-2 game in ten innings in the opener while they were trounced (for the first time all year) by a score of 9-2 in the finale.   The following weekend, Stanford suffered 19-18 and 11-2 losses to Arizona and all of a sudden the pitching staff was looking very vulnerable.  Stanford won five of their last seven at home (against USF, USC, and Arizona State) to go into the Tournament on a high note, but even those two losses were blowouts were the pitching staff had been hammered (9-3 to USC and 15-5 to ASU).  Shortcomings in your pitching staff can be overcome when you have a hitting team like Stanford had this year, but the Cardinal got quite possibly the worst draw imaginable as they had to face the top 1-2 starting pitching combo in the country during the NCAA Regionals.  Stanford's offense was handcuffed all weekend and the pitching continued to struggle and so Stanford was forced to watch the CWS from home for the first time since 1998.

I detailed in my fall and January practice reports that hitting was again going to be the strength of the Stanford Cardinal.  This was certainly the case as the Cardinal averaged over eight runs per game and finished with the third highest batting average in school history.  This was as an experienced and confident a group of hitters that we're ever going to see at Sunken Diamond.  The overall talent and depth 1-through-9 was incredible and led to numerous high-scoring affairs here in 2004.  Unfortunately, they were basically shut down by the dynamic duo of Long Beach State in the Regionals, but one can only wonder what this group would have accomplished in hitter-friendly Rosenblatt Stadium had they advanced.

This truly was an offense that relied on the three-run home run.  Stanford did hit a couple of homers in the those two Long Beach games, however both were of the solo variety and did little to get the Cardinal back into the game.  We may never see a lineup like this one, 1-through-9, that had the type of power that this one did.  All-Americans Jed Lowrie and John Mayberry, Jr. return to anchor the middle of the order next season, but the rest of the lineup will largely be filled by players new to starting.  Top-to-bottom, the power probably won't be the same next season, however there's really no shortage of talent, so big offensive numbers as a team certainly aren't out of the question.

Pitching was the primary reason the Cardinal didn't advance back to the College World Series this season.  However, the struggles of the pitching staff did not come as a surprise to anyone.  Eight of the ten regular pitchers this year were underclassmen, so taking some bumps and bruises along the way was to be expected.  A pair of sophomores were forced into the top two starting pitching spots and both came through with very solid, but certainly not spectacular, seasons.  Nevertheless, Mark Romanczuk and Jeff Gilmore will both be back in the Cardinal and White next season and are primed to take the next step toward stardom at the collegiate level.  Pitching was seen as the weakness of Stanford this year, but now that these hurlers all have a year under their belt, look for the tables to turn in 2005 as the Cardinal rely much more on their arms to carry them to victory.


What's Ahead

Summer ball has started around the country as Stanford players can be found playing for Team USA, in the Cape, all the way up in Alaska, and down in Texas (among other places).  The Bootleg will have complete coverage of all the goings on this summer - both with players participating in their various leagues and any news that comes out of campus.  Fall Ball begins in October once the players return to school while the next season of Cardinal baseball is scheduled to get underway in January.

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