Feb. 14, 2000
THIS WEEK: The youthful Washington baseball team opens the 2000 schedule this weekend with a five-game, four-day trip to Phoenix, Ariz., for the Rawlings Spring Training Tournament. The Huskies open the year Thurs., Feb. 17, at Papago Park against Creighton at 10:00 a.m. MST. Friday, the Dawgs take on preseason No. 33 Nevada at Papago Park at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, it's Creighton once again, this time at Municipal Stadium at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, the Huskies close out the weekend with a pair of seven-inning games. At 9:00 a.m. at Municipal, the Huskies face Northwestern before moving to Papago to take on Northern Iowa at 1:00 p.m. Except for Nevada, all of the Huskies' will be playing their first games of the season. Next weekend, Feb. 25-27, the Huskies open the home schedule with a four-game series against Gonzaga at Husky Ballpark. Here's this weekend's lineup, with the projected Husky starters:
Thursday, Feb. 17: UW vs. Creighton, Phoenix, Ariz. (Papago Park), 10:00 a.m. -- RHP Jeff Carlsen (9-1, 4.85 in '99)
Friday, Feb. 18: UW vs. Nevada, Phoenix, Ariz. (Papago Park), 2:00 p.m. -- RHP Matt Massingale (1-2, 9.97 in '99)
Saturday, Feb. 19: UW vs. Creighton, Phoenix, Ariz. (Municipal Stadium), 3:00 p.m. -- LHP Mike Bomar (4-2, 6.08 in '99)
Sunday, Feb. 20: UW vs. Northwestern (7 innings), Phoenix, Ariz. (Municipal Stadium), 9:00 a.m. -- starter TBD
Sunday, Feb. 20: UW vs. Northern Iowa (7 innings), Phoenix, Ariz. (Papago Park), 1:00 p.m. -- starter TBD
SERIES HISTORY: Washington has never played Northern Iowa, but has a series history against each of the other three opponents in this weekend's tournament. Washington is 3-1 all-time vs. Creighton. Last year at a tournament at UNLV, the Dawgs out-lasted the Blue Jays 16-12 in the opener and then lost 8-4 in the last game of the tourney. Ed Erickson went 4-for-7 with four RBI and two homers over the two games. The other two UW-Creighton games came at a season-opening tournament in San Diego in 1994, when the Dawgs won 4-1 and 6-5. The Huskies are only 1-4 against Nevada. Last year, Jeff Carlsen pitched the UW to a 12-8 win. Carlsen worked the first seven innings, allowing seven hits, one run (unearned) and one walk with five Ks. Erickson went 2-for-5 with a homer. Previously, the Wolfpack swept the Huskies in a three-game series in Reno in 1996 and beat the Dawgs once in the Kingdome in 1995. Washington's lone game vs. Northwestern was a 4-1 UW win in the Kingdome in 1991.
COACH "K": In seven seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Ken Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pac-10 championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division titles, two second-place finishes and three NCAA Regionals. His career overall record stands at 259-155 (.628). With those 259 wins, he is the second-winningest coach in UW history, trailing only Bob MacDonald (422). Before becoming the Husky head man in 1993, Knutson served as the Husky pitching coach for eight seasons. In 1985, his UW pitching staff led the nation with a 2.80 ERA. Knutson holds a 121-40 (.752) record in home games. He is 123-63 (.661) in conference games, the highest mark (percentage-wise) of any active Pac-10 coach. A 1981 All-Pac-10 left-handed pitcher at the UW, he is joined by assistant coaches Joe Ross, Ed Gustafson, and Joe Weis.
PLAYER NOTES: Here's a look at the possible starters at each position, with current stats and notes:
Pos. Player, Year ' 99 Avg.-HR-RBI Notes C -- Jefferson Thiel, Fr. 1st season Three-time all-league catcher at Juanita HS Tim Rice, So. 1st season Tranferred from Tacoma CC after fall quarter 1B -- Ed Erickson, Sr. .270-9-35 UW's career HR leader with 31 Jay Garthwaite, Fr. 1st season 12th-round draft pick in 1999, 2-time HS league MVP 2B -- Brent Robertson, So. .241-1-18 Started 22 games at 2B last year, made only 3 errors Josh Fulton, So. .263-0-16 Played last year at BYU, started 15 games last year SS -- Tila Reynolds, Fr. 1st season Had "Tommy John" surgery last spring 3B -- Michael Done, So. Redshirt Forced to redshirt '99 due to transfer rules OF -- Marc Rittenhouse, Jr. .360-2-24 Leadoff hitter started at 2B last two years OF -- Todd Linden, So. .256-1-18 Started 16 games at OF, 1B in '99 OF -- Matt Hollod, So. .290-3-24 Made 23 starts in OF last year OF -- Ben Miller, So. .000-0-0 Team-annointed MVP of fall practice DH -- Daniel Jahn, Jr. .298-4-15 Started 19 games at OF & DH in 1999
TRAVEL INFORMATION: The Huskies will depart for Phoenix, Wednesday, Feb. 16, leaving the crew house at 2:30 and departing on a 4:11 p.m. flight. After arriving at 7:51 p.m., the Dawgs will stay at the Wyndham Gardens (phone: (602) 220-4400, fax: (602) 244-2325), near the airport. The Dawgs are scheduled to return to Seattle Sunday evening at 9: 14 p.m.
LAST YEAR: Injuries took their toll on the 1999 Huskies, who finished the year 33-23 overall, 12-12 in the Pac-10. The Dawgs likely finished only one conference win away from making the NCAA tournament, but went 2-6 down the stretch after being 10-6 at one point. Nearly every regular position player suffered a significant injury. Most notably, 1B Ed Erickson and 2B Marc Rittenhouse suffered broken bones that kept them out for long periods while CF Nick Stefonick twice separated a shoulder. Nonetheless, there were highlights in 1999. Both the UW single-season and career home runs records were broken, by two different players. C Dominic Woody hit 19 homers to break the season mark while Erickson finished the year with 31 career round-trippers, one better than the old record. Junior RHP Jeff Heaverlo also smashed the season and career strikeouts record, finishing with 131 and 303, respectively. Heaverlo, Woody and RF Bryan Williamson all made All-Pac-10.
DOMINATING THE NORTHWEST: During the decade of the 1990s, the UW baseball program grew to be the unquestioned dominant team in the Pacific Northwest. During the decade, the Huskies won five Pac-10 North titles, two overall Pac-10 championships and went to four regionals. No Northwest team besides UW has gone to an NCAA Regional since 1991. In the 1990s, Washington posted a 355-218 (.620) overall record and 167-85 (.663) in Pac-10 play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-), Washington posted a 163-67 (.709) record against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and went 128-62 (.674) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest foe (12) he has ever faced.
MORE IN THE 90'S: Among the nine current Pac-10 teams, Washington posted the fourth-best record during the 1990s with a 355-218 (.620) overall record. Stanford (.673), USC (.657) and Arizona State (.651) were the three league schools with better marks. The Huskies' .635 conference winning percentage during the decade was third-best behind the Cardinal (.650) and Trojans (.639). With four NCAA regional appearances in the 90's, the Huskies were behind USC (6), Stanford (5) and UCLA (5).
YOUTH FACTOR: In 1996, the Huskies started an average of more than six freshmen in each game. That Husky team, led by a recruiting class ranked No. 8 in the nation, went on to win three Pac-10 Northern Division titles and two Pac-10 championships. Not since then has the Husky roster been so young. The 36-player roster includes 19 newcomers and only one senior, Ed Erickson. The roster includes only six players 21 years old or older and 28 freshmen and sophomores. The Huskies should have new starters at catcher, shortstop, third base, right field and left field every day and may have newcomers at second base and DH on a given day. None of the five catchers on the roster (four freshmen, one RS-sophomore transfer) has ever played in a college baseball game.
LID LIFTERS: Washington nearly blew a 14-5 lead, and barely held on to beat Brigham Young in last year's season opener at St. George, Utah. That win was the Huskies' second straight in season openers following what had been a three-year losing streak. Over the last 10 seasons, the Dawgs are only 5-5 in season openers and coach Ken Knutson is 3-4 in such games. Here's a look at the last 10 UW season openers:
Feb. 11, 1999 W, 14-13 BYU (at St. George, Utah) Feb. 13, 1998 W, 18-4 vs. Florida Atlantic (at Viera, Fla.) Feb. 7, 1997 L, 10-12 at UNLV Feb. 16, 1996 L, 2-5 at Long Beach State Feb. 17, 1995 L, 8-9 at Cal Poly-SLO Feb. 18, 1994 W, 8-4 vs. Toledo (at San Diego) Feb. 12, 1993 L, 2-3 at Texas A&M Feb. 12, 1992 L, 10-19 vs. Oklahoma (at El Paso) Feb. 1, 1991 W, 8-5 at Hawai'i Feb. 22, 1990 W, 6-1 at Central Washington
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS: The various preseason magazines and polls haven't had much to say about the Huskies -- not surprising when one considers the lack of returning starters and high number of new players. Both preseason magazines (Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball), as well as the Pac-10 coaches' poll picked the Huskies to finish seventh in the nine-team Pac-10. Baseball America, which ranks a top 100 in the preseason, tabbed the Huskies No. 52, but did not predict that they'd make the postseason. While no Husky players were named preseason All-Pac-10, several were noted in Baseball America's various draft preview lists. Junior RHP Jeff Carlsen was picked as the No. 52 college prospect while junior RHP Matt Massingale was No. 70 on that list. Also, freshman 1B/OF Jay Garthwaite was selected as the No. 17 prospect among college freshmen.
PAC-10 IS NO. 1 AGAIN: Baseball America once again ranked the Pacific-10 as the toughtest conference in the nation in this spring's preseason issue. Five of the league's nine schools (Oregon has no baseball team) rank in the top 25 and all nine made the top 86. Five of the 14 spots on BA's preseason All-America team were held by Pac-10 players and eight of the 14 second-teamers were conference members. Five of the top 11 college prospects in the nation (in terms of the 2000 draft) are Pac-10 players, including the first, second and sixth picks, according to Baseball America.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Washington was very tough at home in the 1990s, posting a mark of 160-52 (.755) over the last 10 seasons. Under coach Ken Knutson, the Huskies have posted a remarkable 121-39 record in home games, good for a .756 mark. In 1998, the Huskies moved into Husky Ballpark and have notched a 42-18 (.700) record so far. In two seasons, the Huskies have averaged 30 home games a year after usually having played 15 to 20 each season at old Graves Field. This season, the Dawgs are scheduled to play 30 home games.
THE POWER HOUSE: History will eventually be the judge of whether the new Husky Ballpark favors the hitters or the pitchers. So far, however, it definitely has been advantageous to the offense. Through 60 games at Husky Ballpark, the Huskies have belted 109 home runs, an average of 1.8 per game, while visitors have hit 73 home runs, or 1.2 per game. In 60 games, a total of 860 runs have been scored (both teams combined), an average of 14.3 per game.
MORE COACH K FACTS: In only seven years as the head coach of the Washington baseball team, Ken Knutson has posted a list of accomplishments that already far outdistances any of his predecessors'. Aside from his outstanding won-lost record (see first page), Knutson has led the Dawgs to four Pac-10 North titles and two overall Pac-10 crowns. His teams have never finished below .500 in conference play and he earned the Pac-10 North Coach of the Year award three times. In seven seasons, he has coached 35 first-team all-league players, 11 different All-Americans and seven different USA National Teamers. Prior to his arrival, no Husky had ever tried out for the national team. Knutson has also seen 33 players move on to the professional ranks. Of those 33, all but one improved his draft standing compared to where he went prior to coming to the UW.
ERICKSON: Senior first baseman Ed Erickson would like to finally put in a full season this year. After seeing action as a part-time starter his first two seasons, Erickson was a full-timer last year, starting at first base and hitting cleanup. However, his 1999 season was shortened when he suffered broken bones in his right wrist and hand in a collision at first base against UCLA on March 27. Erickson played 17 games after the injury, but wasn't the same. In the 21 games prior, he batted .325 with eight homers and 24 RBI. After the injury, he hit only one more home run and had nine RBI while his average dropped to .270. After extensive and delicate off-season surgery and an amazing 21 weeks in a cast, Erickson is once again healthy. The Huskies' only senior already holds the UW career home runs record with 31, having hit his 31st late last year against Arizona State. With a good season, the Yakima, Wash., native should rank among the top-10 in UW history in runs, hits, runs batted in and doubles.
CARLSEN: At 6-foot-7, junior right-handed pitcher Jeff Carlsen is the tallest member of the Washington roster. He's also the most successful and experienced member of the Husky pitching staff. Carlsen, who has been a regular member of the Husky starting rotation since his arrival from North Kitsap High in Poulsbo, Wash., has compiled an impressive 16-4 career won-lost record, including a 9-1 overall mark and 4-1 Pac-10 record last season. Carlsen was a freshman All-America in 1998 and the only freshman on the All-Pac-10 North first team. Last season, he was a second-team Academic All-Pac-10 pick and was invited to try out for the U.S. National Team before going to the Cape Cod League, where he was an all-star for the second straight season. In two season with the Bourne Braves in the Cape, Carlsen has posted a 9-3 record. Carlsen ranks ninth in UW history with his 16 career wins, 11 victories short of Mike Smith's Husky record (27).
RITTENHOUSE: Like many members of the Husky roster, junior Marc Rittenhouse had his 1999 season cut short by injury. The Huskies' new starting center fielder was having a great season before fouling a ball of his foot and breaking a bone during a game in Arizona. In his second season as the Huskies' starting second baseman last year, Rittenhouse was hitting .375 before getting hurt. He played in 10 more games, still managing to hit .360 overall, but ended up missing 21 games due to the broken bone. Rittenhouse, from Belleuve's Newport High, started the year with a 15-game hitting streak during which he hit .400 and scored 23 runs. After having that streak broken with one hitless game, he went on to hit in 11 games in a row. In games in which Rittenhouse played last year, the Huskies were 24-11. Without him, they went only 9-12. This year, the leadoff man is moving to center field after spending the last two seasons in the infield.
NOTABLES: Over the summer, junior LHP Mike Bomar posted a 2.89 ERA for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the tough Alaska League ... sophomore LHP Zack Daniels closed out last season with seven consecutive shutout appearances (9.2 innings total) ... junior LHP Matt Gardner, who had off-season shoulder surgery, had a 2.53 earned run average over his first nine appearances last year before getting hurt ... sophomore LHP Taylor Grant starred for Grand Forks (N.D.) in the Northwoods League over the summer, compiling a 2.43 ERA and making all-league ... Grant had a 2.61 earned run average over his final 11 appearances last season at UW ... projected starting OF Matt Hollod, despite making only 23 starts last season, is the Dawgs' second-leading (tied) returning RBI man with 24 last season ... in only 16 starts last year, sophomore OF Todd Linden scored 13 runs and drove in 18 ... junior RHP Matt Massingale, who will move from the closer role into the starting rotation this season, was the Pac-10 co-leader in saves last season with eight ... a Husky has led the league in saves eight of the last 10 seasons ... after becoming the Huskies' starting second baseman late last season, sophomore IF Brent Robertson made only three errors in 111 chances (.982) and didn't commit an error over his last 79 attempts
RANDOM NOTES: Of the 36 players on the Washington roster, only four come from outside of the state of Washington -- 3B/P Michael Done (Colorado), 1B Duggan Moran (Colorado), OF Steve DeClerck (Oregon) and RHP Randy Vanderplow (California) ... of the 32 Washingtonians on the roster, 26 are from western Washington (west of the Cascades) ... over the last three seasons, the Huskies have hit a total of 283 home runs ... 283 homers are more than the UW team had hit in the previous eight seasons combined (261 HR from 1989 to 1996) ... Ed Erickson's 31 career home runs are the most in UW history ... after him, the current Husky with the most career homers is Marc Rittenhouse, with five ... Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington's star quarterback who had decided to play baseball this spring, spent two weeks in spring practice before determining that the time commitments were too much ... sophomore shortstop Richard Hall, who started 36 games at shortstop last season as a freshman, also left the team this month, citing personal reasons ... current UW position players combined for only 154 starts last year (consider that in a 56-game season, there are 504 available starts).