THIS WEEK: The 15th-ranked Washington baseball team (20-9 overall, 6-2 Pac-10 North) hits the road for the first of three straight Pac-10 North weekend road trips this week. First up on the road docket is the first of two weekend showdowns with perennial nemesis and second-place Oregon State (20-7-1, 5-2), ranked No. 22 in the Collegiate Baseball poll this week. OSU has won eight straight and 14 of the last 16. Friday, the Dawgs will send freshman righthander Jeff Carlsen (5-1, 3.67) to the mound for a 3:00 p.m. game. Saturday's noon doubleheader will see sophomore RHP Travis Anderson (4-2, 4.04) take the mound for game one and junior lefty Matt Hampton (3-3, 4.50) start in the second game. In Sunday's 1:00 p.m. finale, sophomore RHP Jeff Heaverlo (1-1, 6.75) will start for the UW. All four games will air live on KRPM AM-1090 (and on Audionet), with play-by-play man Eric Radovich calling the action. The following week, the Huskies travel to face Washington State for a four-game series in Pullman.
SERIES HISTORY: Oregon State leads the all-time series vs. Washington, 196-153-1. Over the last three seasons, the two teams have split 22 Pac-10 North games, splitting evenly each season. Coach Ken Knutson is 19-16 against the Beavers over his six seasons at Washington. Four of the last five seasons, the Huskies have finished in first and second place (one way or the other) in the Pac-10 North standings. Last year, the Dawgs and Beavs split eight games with each team going 2-2 at home and on the road.
COACH "K": In five-plus seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Ken Knutson has led the Dawgs to a Pac-10 championship, three Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two second-place finishes and two NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 205-124 (.623). With those 205 wins, he is the third-winningest coach in Washington history, trailing only Tubby Graves (209 wins) and Bob MacDonald (422). Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons over two separate stints. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 earned run average. Knutson holds a 91-26 (.777) record in home games. He is 100-46 (.685) in Pac-10 Northern Division games and holds a winning record against every Nor-Pac team (including now-departed Portland and Gonzaga). A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistants Joe Ross, Kevin Johnston and Joe Weis.
PLAYER NOTES: Here's a look at the possible starters at each position, with 1998 stats and notes:
Pos. Player, Year Avg-HR-RBI Notes C -- Ryan Bundy, Jr. .325-4-15 Baseball America's No. 21 prospect/22 starts at catcher Pete Orgill, Jr. (1B) .400-5-18 18 RBI on 16 hits/three home runs in last week 1B -- Ed Erickson, So. .256-5-19 19 RBI on 20 hits/20 starts at first base this year Dominic Woody, So. (C) .269-2-7 Backs up at C and 1B/1 start at C, 9 at 1B, 4 at DH 2B -- Chris Whitemarsh, Sr. .243-1-4 One of two seniors on UW roster/5 extra-base hits Marc Rittenhouse, Fr. .196-0-2 Led Newport HS to state title/20 starts at second base SS - - Kevin Miller, Jr. .298-7-29 2-time Pac-10 North Player of Year/25 career HR is record 3B -- Ryan Lentz, Jr. .369-8-30 Leads UW in batting average, doubles, runs and RBI OF -- Chris Magruder, Jr. .357-3-22 20 stolen bases leads Pac-10/81-of-95 career SB OF -- Jim Na, Jr. .309-2-13 '98 co-captain with Magruder/6-for-10 over last six games OF -- Nick Stefonick, Jr. .318-2-11 6-for-14 (.429), 4 doubles, 4 SB vs. Oregon State in '97 OF -- Kyle Woods, So. .366-10-30 10 HR is 5th in UW history/13-game hitting streak OF -- Dwight DeMar, So. .333-0-6 Two triples, two RBI in Tuesday game at Portland DH -- Bryan Williamson, Jr. (P).322-3-15 8-for-19 (.421), 5 RBI and 5.0 shutout IP vs. OSU in '97
LAST WEEK: Despite splitting a four-game series with Washington State, the Huskies managed to remain in first place in the Pac-10 North. In game one against the Cougars, the Huskies surrendered four home runs and fell, 12-8, despite also hitting four of their own. Jeff Heaverlo gave up six earned runs despite fanning eight batters in 6.2 innings. In Saturday's game one, the Cougars hit two big homers to take a lead and win, 7-5. The Dawgs made it close with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn't come back. Matt Hampton suffered the loss. In Saturday's game two, freshman righthander Jeff Carlsen threw a nine-inning, one-hit shutout for an 8-0 victory. It was the first shutout by a single UW pitcher since 1995 and the first one-hitter since 1994. Ryan Lentz homered twice and Ryan Bundy hit one out. Sunday's finale was a true back-and-forth battle. Up 5-3 in the ninth, the Huskies gave up a three-run homer to trail, 6-5. But in the bottom of the ninth, the Cougars made an error on a double play ball, allowing the tying run to score. In the 12th, WSU homered to go ahead 7-6, but Husky DH Jim Na blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the 12th to win, 9-7. Tuesday, the Huskies hammered Portland, 23-1, as both Kyle Woods and Pete Orgill hit grand slams and Kevin Miller belted a three-run homer.
DOMINATING THE NORTHWEST: If there was any question about the Huskies' recent dominance of college baseball in the Pacific Northwest, it was quelled last season when the Huskies won their fourth Pac-10 North title in the 1990s, won the Pac-10 overall championship and came within one win of the College World Series. In the 1990s, Washington has made three NCAA Regional appearances, more than any team from the Northwest. During the current decade, the Huskies have posted a 301-186 (.618) overall record and a 142-68 (.676) mark in Pac-10 North play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-97), Washington is 147-60 (.710) against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and 114-55 (.675) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest team (12) he has faced.
LAST YEAR vs. OSU: As usual, the Oregon State-Washington series was a dogfight last year, as the teams split their eight Pac-10 North games with both teams going 2-2 at home and on the road. The Pac-10 North title came down to Oregon State losing to teams other than Washington while UW won all 16 non-OSU games. Last season, the two four-game series came on back-to-back weekends. In game one in Seattle, the Huskies scored six in the seventh to win , 10-5, but OSU came back to pound UW 15-4 in a rain-shortened five-inning game on Saturday. On Sunday, Matt Hampton threw a five-hitter two win game one, 3-2, but OSU survived a UW rally to win, 7-6. The following Friday in Corvallis, Jake Kringen turned in another win over the Beavers, handing Andrew Checketts his second loss of the eight-game series, 6-4. Saturday, another UW rally fell short as the Huskies scored five in the final two innings, but lost, 7-6. Tyson Vermillion made a stunning game-winning catch at the wall in left field to close it out. In game two, the Beavers steam-rolled the Dawgs with a 17-7 win, but on Sunday, Jeff Heaverlo threw five and one-third shutout relief innings in a 6-3 win that evened the series at 4-4.
HUSKY BALLPARK: This season marks the beginning of a new era for Husky baseball as Washington moves to a new home -- Husky Ballpark. Graves Field, where the Huskies played since the early 1960s, is gone as Washington played its first game at the new site Feb. 27 vs. Gonzaga. This season, the new facility will feature a new field, with the stadium to come in the future. The new field includes an AstroTurf infield and a beautiful view of Lake Washington, the Cascades and Mount Rainier. Already, the new field, which includes a state-of-the-art outfield drainage system, has paid dividends as the Huskies have been able to practice on a real baseball field every day since opening spring practice on January 6. In past years, the Huskies have often been able to practice only on the football turf prior to playing the first game of the year. The new home has been friendly to the Dawgs thusfar, as the UW is 12-4 in home games.
THE SCOOTER: Junior center fielder Chris Magruder (Yakima, Wash./ West Valley HS) is having another outstanding season in his third year as a Husky starter. In 29 games, he's batting .357 and co-leads the team in runs (35) and doubles (10). He's also stolen 20 bases in 22 attempts, including a steal of home (on a pickoff throw to first) against UCSB. With 81 career steals, he's moved into second place on the UW career chart, trailing only Joe Trippy (85). He's also closing in on the UW career records for runs (needs 13 more to break) , doubles (two more) and triples (three more). With 210 career hits, he has more than any three-year player in Husky history and the fourth-most among all players. The speedy leadoff man was named a first-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball and a second-teamer by the Sporting News. Last year, he broke UW records for hits (104), runs (96) and steals (43) while batting .400. He completed the 1997 season on a tear, batting .619 at the NCAA Mideast Regional and closing out the year with a 16-game hitting streak. He went on to start in right field for the USA Baseball National Team, batting .336 over the summer.
MILLER TIME: Junior shortstop Kevin Miller returns to defend his back-to-back titles as the Pac-10 North Player fo the Year as he was the first man ever to win the award twice (and, in 1996, the first freshman to win it). The power hitter from Seattle's Ballard High was named a first-team preseason All-American by the Sporting News and a second-teamer by Collegiate Baseball this year. Last year, he batted .384 and broke the UW RBI record with 73 while leading the team with 12 home runs. After his sophomore season, he was named to the NCBWA second-team All-America while making the third team on two other lists. He has started 148 of the 149 games during his UW tenure at shortstop, and may have established himself as the greatest power hitter in school history. Only halfway through his junior season, he's set a new record for career home runs (25) and is mounting attacks on several other UW marks. A career .352 hitter and one of only six Huskies ever to record 200 hits, he ranks in several career categories other than homers: hits (sixth with 200), RBI (third with 138), runs (6th with 148) and triples (second with nine).
AT THE HOT CORNER: Junior Ryan Lentz (Woodinville (Wash.) HS) returns to his spot as the Husky starting third baseman for the third season this year. If the left-handed hitter with the strong arm improves this year as much as he did last year, his statistics will be monsterous. Last year, he started 64 of the Huskies' 66 games at third, batting .327 with nine home runs and 69 RBI. He also broke the UW doubles record with 26, smashing the old record by eight. His 251 at bats, 82 hits and 58 runs were all among the top 10 in Husky history and his 69 runs batted in would have broken the school record except that Kevin Miller had 73 in 1997. Named a third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers in 1997, he was tabbed the No. 50 college prospect in the nation by Baseball America this preseason. As a sophomore, he improved his average by 65 points and posted 30 more extra-base hits over his freshman season. Currently, Lentz leads the club with his .369 average, 35 runs, 41 hits, 10 doubles and 30 RBI. His eight home runs are second on the team.
BEHIND THE PLATE: Ryan Bundy (Lake Stevens (Wash.) HS) is another star member of the Huskies' junior class. A tremendous defensive catcher, Bundy's offense has shown steady improvement over the last two seasons. Last year, he batted .311 with 17 doubles, six homers and 40 runs batted in over 193 at bats. Perhaps, most impressive, he stole 14 bases in 16 attempts and is one of the Huskies' fastest players. He showed great improvement over his freshman year in the power categories as he had only three doubles, no homers and 19 RBI in 135 ABs as a freshman. This preseason, Baseball America called him the No. 44 college prospect in the nation, the highest of the five Husky players to make the top 100. Two weeks ago, Baseball America put out an updated prospect list and named Bundy the No. 21 college prospect in the nation. Bundy has started 22of 29 games at catcher and is batting .325 with 15 RBI and four stolen bases.
BIG WILLY: Last season, junior Bryan Williamson (Kennewick, Wash./Kamiakin HS) developed into one of the nation's top two-way players, posting a 4-2 record with six saves and a 2.89 ERA on the mound and a .381 batting average with 58 RBI as a designated hitter and outfielder. At the conclusion of last season, the 6-foot-6 righthander was given a tryout with the USA National Team, but withdrew with a shoulder injury that was repaired in the off-season. This year, Williamson still hopes to move into the starting rotation and plays only DH in the batting order. A tricky, yet hard-throwing pitcher, Williamson fanned 49 batters and allowed only 34 hits in 43.2 innings a year ago. All of his statistics were a vast improvement over his freshman season, when he batted .254 and had an 11.12 earned run average. This preseason, Williamson was named the No. 61 college prospect in the nation by Baseball America. Williamson is currently batting .322 with 15 RBI in 14 starts. On the mound, his numbers (in limited action) are even more impressive. In 10 innings over six appearances, Williamson has allowed only six hits, one earned run and has struck out nine.
CLASS NOTES -- SENIORS: UW has only two seniors -- 2B Chris Whitemarsh and reliever Cody Morrison . . . Whitemarsh has four extra-base hits among his nine hits . . . Morrison is 4-for-5 in save opportunities and has allowed only five hits and fanned 15 in 11.2 innings . . . opponents are batting only .122 (5-for-41) against Morrison, who is third in UW history with 15 career saves.
JUNIORS: LHP Matt Hampton has been one of three regular starters this year . . . at 3-3 mark this season, his career record stands at 10-3 . . . RF Nick Stefonick has started 22 of 29 games this season . . . he's third on the team with his six steals . . . Jim Na won a game with a homer for the second time in his career Sunday vs. WSU . . . his first career hit was a game-winning HR in extra innings vs. Gonzaga in 1996 . . . Pete Orgill has driven in 18 runs with his 16 hits . . . Orgill has reached base 11 of his last 18 plate appearances, a stretch that has included five walks and three HR . . . reserve C/DH Kevin Ticen, who went 1-for-1 last season, is 5-for-14 with eight RBI, three doubles and a home run . . . of his six career hits, he has four doubles and a home run . . . reliever Wayne Lee has fanned 22 batters in 15.2 innings of work.
SOPHOMORES: LF Kyle Woods has a 13-game hitting streak alive, during which he has hit .373 (19-for-51) with 12 runs, 15 RBI and six home runs . . . he leads the Dawgs with 10 home runs, 30 RBI and 14 multi-hit games . . . C/1B Dominic Woody has started 14 of 29 games at DH, 1B and C . . . Ed Erickson has started at first base and DH . . . Erickson has four homers and 13 RBI in his last 11 games . . . reserve OF Dwight DeMar has played in 14 games so far and had two triples Tuesday at Portland . . . on the mound, Travis Anderson is 4-2 and has allowed only 36 hits in 42.1 innings . . . Anderson leads the Dawgs with his 42 Ks . . . righty Ken Ferguson has fanned 15 hitters and allowed only seven base hits in 8.1 innings or relief work.
FRESHMEN: Even on this veteran-laden team, the Husky freshmen are making a huge impact this year as nine true freshman have played . . . Marc Rittenhouse has started 20 times at second . . . . . . the other infielder to see action is SS Greg Brooks, who doubled in his first AB (vs. UCSB) . . . Jeff Carlsen has won five of six pitching decisions. . . he's second on the team with 34 Ks and has allowed only 13 walks in 41.2 innings. . . John Gillespie has three starts and has surrendered only 15 hits in 20.0 IP . . . Matt Massingale leads the Huskies with 15 appearances and has posted nearly incredible numbers . . . in 17.2 innings, he has allowed only eight hits and six walks while fanning 14 . . . the side-armer has a miniscule earned run average of 1.02 and is 3-1 . . . freshman lefty Matt Gardner earned his first victory at San Francisco.
RANDOM NOTES: The UW has had a player hit two home runs in six of the last nine games (Miller, Orgill, Lentz twice and Woods twice) . . . the Huskies were last shut out in the final game of the 1996 season (5-0 at USC), meaning that they've gone 95 straight without being blanked . . . opponents have been able to shut the Huskies out through the first three innings only 20 times in that span and the UW has scored in the first inning 51 times in those 95 games . . . as a staff, Washington pitchers have allowed only 219 hits in 250 innings, an average of only 7.88 hits per nine innings . . . of the 12 Husky pitchers that have thrown more than two innings this season, only two are allowing more than one hit per inning . . . in the meantime, Husky hitters are averaging 12.00 hits per nine . . . with 54 HRs, the Huskies are on pace to hit 97 this year, smashing the school record of 84, set last year.