THIS WEEK: The No. 19-ranked Washington baseball team (14-6 overall; 4-0 in the Pac-10 Northern Division) return to Seattle to close out Spring Break with a three-game series against No. 16 Arizona State (20-12, 8-6 Pac-10 Southern).
The games will mark the first time the UW has played a home game vs. a Pac-10 South team since 1981, when John Elway's Stanford team played the Huskies at Graves Field in the Pac-10 playoffs. These games are non-conference games and do not count in the league standings.
Friday's opener (2:00 p.m.) will pit Husky sophomore RHP Jeff Heaverlo (0-1, 3.18) against ASU sophomore LHP Phill Lowery (5-3, 3.74).
On Saturday in a 1:00 p.m. game, the Huskies will send junior lefty Matt Hampton (3-2, 2.83) to face Arizona State junior southpaw Ryan Mills (4-3, 4.63).
Sunday's finale, also a 1:00 p.m. start, will match Husky freshman righty Jeff Carlsen (4-0, 4.03) against an yet to be named ASU pitcher.
All three games can be heard live on KRPM AM-1090 with Eric Radovich and Angie Marzetta calling the action. The games will also air on the internet at: drew.audionet.com/schools/washington/baseball.html. Wednesday, the Huskies host NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State in a 2:00 p.m. game at Husky Ballpark.
SERIES HISTORY: Washington and Arizona State have never played one another in the history of the two programs. This season, they're meeting under the latest Pac-10 schedule formula while pits teams from the Pac-10 North against those from the South in non-conference series. This year, the Huskies play Stanford, Arizona State and California, as does Washington State. Oregon State and Portland State play three-game series against USC, UCLA and Arizona.
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 199-120 (.624). With those 199 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 an 86-23 (.789) record in home games. He is 98-44 (.690) 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. .370-3-12 Baseball America's No. 44 prospect/.632 BA at home
Pete Orgill, Jr. (1B) .345-2-9 6-for-16 (.375) with 2 HR and 8 RBI at Husky Ballpark
1B -- Ed Erickson, So. .213-1-8 21 starts and 99 at bats a year ago/2 stolen bases
Dominic Woody, So. (C) .300-2-6 Backs up at C and 1B/both home runs at home this year
2B -- Chris Whitemarsh, Sr. .320-1-3 One of two seniors on UW roster/right-handed hitter
Marc Rittenhouse, Fr. .267-0-2 Led Newport HS to state title/6-for-13 (.462) at home
Darin Nakagawa, Jr. .000-0-0 16 starts last season/lefty hitter/also backs SS, 3B
SS -- Kevin Miller, Jr. .275-2-17 2-time Pac-10 North Player of Year/18 walks leads team
3B -- Ryan Lentz, Jr. .389-4-22 Baseball America's No. 50 prospect/10 RBI, 10 r at home
OF -- Chris Magruder, Jr. .403-3-19 Leads UW in avg., runs, hits, doubles, and steals
OF -- Jim Na, Jr. .275-1-8 '98 co-captain with Magruder/top left-hand pinch hitter
OF -- Nick Stefonick, Jr. .319-2-8 Platoons with Na in RF/2 triples leads Huskies
OF -- Kyle Woods, So. .363-5-16 16-for-18 career stolen bases/5 homers leads Huskies
OF -- Dwight DeMar, So. .222-0-4 Made first career start at LF vs. Gonzaga/2 SB vs. PSU
DH -- B. Williamson, Jr. (P) .386-3-14 Baseball America's No. 61 prosp./6.0 IP, no ER allowed
LAST WEEK: The Huskies travelled to the Bay Area of California for the first half of Spring Break, and were scheduled to play six games in all against Stanford, Pacific and San Francisco. Due to bad weather, the Huskies managed to only play four -- getting in all three scheduled contests vs. Stanford, missing the Pacific game entirely and playing only one of two vs. USF. The three-game set at Stanford was a rematch of last season's Pac-10 Championship Series, when the Dawgs won the title, two games to one. In game one this year, the Huskies fell, 5-4, thanks in large part to back-to-back homers to the first two Stanford batters in the first inning. Junior Matt Hampton suffered the loss for the UW, but reliever Jeff Heaverlo, in his first outing since returning from academic ineligibility, was sparkling, allowing only one run on four hits in 5.1 innings. In game two, the Dawgs jumped on the Cardinal with four runs in the first, including three on a bases-loaded double from Ryan Lentz, and cruised to a 9-5 win. Travis Anderson threw 5.1 innings for the victory as the Cardinal were held to only three hits, their lowest total since May, 1995. In the series finale, played a day late (Tuesday) due to rain on Monday, the Huskies led a pitchers' duel 3-0 in the eighth when Stanford's Joe Borchard tied it up with a three-run homer. Borchard then singled home the game-winner in the 10th as the Cardinal won, 4-3. Heaverlo took the loss and starter Jeff Carlsen went 7.2 shutout innings before giving up the homer. After a rainout against UoP, the Huskies played at USF, beating the Dons, 9-4. Washington led 3-0, but gave up the lead before coming back. Matt Gardner worked two relief innings for the win.
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 295-183 (.617) overall record and a 140-66 (.699) mark in Pac-10 North play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-97), Washington is 143-58 (.711) against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and 111-53 (.677) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest team (12) he has faced.
THE SCHEDULE: As usual, the Huskies began this season largely on the road, with eight straight road games to begin the season. In addition, 16 of the Huskies' first 24 games are away from the new Husky Ballpark. However, this season's schedule (which totals 56 games) includes at least 27 home games, the most in the history of the program. Last season, Washington may have been the nation's winningest road team, with 30 victories away from Graves Field. This season's schedule is highlighted with three three-game series against Pac-10 Southern Division teams, the newest wrinkle in the ever-changing Pac-10 format. This year, each Southern Division team will play one road series and one home series against Northern Division teams, while each North team gets three series. The Huskies play at Stanford and face Arizona State and California at home. Also, should the Huskies win the Northern Division, they'll get to host the Pac-10 Championship Series.
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 features 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 SCOOTER: Junior center fielder Chris Magruder (Yakima, Wash./ West Valley HS) is off to another outstanding season in his third year as a Husky starter. In 20 games this season, Magruder is batting .403 with team highs in runs (25), doubles (8) and hits (31). He's also stolen 14 bases in 15 attempts, including a steal of home (on a pickoff throw to first) against UCSB. With 75 career steals, he's moved into second place on the UW career chart, trailing only Joe Trippy (85). 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. With his on-base percentage of .500, Magruder continues to excel as a leadoff man in 1998. He's scored a run in 16 of 19 starts. He has eight games with multiple runs scored and seven games with multiple RBI.
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 143 of the 144 games during his UW tenure at shortstop. After struggling early in the year at the plate, Miller has heated up. Dating back to the first Gonzaga game (Feb. 27), Miller has reached base in 35 of his last 55 plate appearances. He has walked at least once in 10 of the last 12 games and has 15 free passes (as well as five hit-by-pitches) over those 12 games. He's also third on the team with his 17 RBI and first with 18 walks.
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. Lentz, who has hit in 15 of 16 games this year, was named the Pac-10 North Player of the Week two weeks ago, going 8-for-18 (.444) with nine RBI, two doubles and two home runs vs. UPS and PSU. Batting .389 on the year, he leads the club with 22 runs batted in and is second in doubles (7), homers (4), runs (23) and batting.
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. At the Space Coast Invitational, Bundy put on a show with his bat, going 5-for-10 with three doubles, six runs and a home run. Bundy is currently batting .370 and has started 15 of 20 games this season as the Husky catcher.
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 play 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 .386 and has driven in 14 runs in 15 games. In six innings, he has yet to allow an earned run and has given up only three hits.
CLASS NOTES -- SENIORS: UW has only two seniors -- 2B Chris Whitemarsh and reliever Cody Morrison . . . Whitemarsh is batting .320 and has two doubles, a triple and a homer among his eight hits . . . Morrison is 2-for-2 in save opportunities and has allowed only three hits and fanned 10 in eight innings.
JUNIORS: LHP Matt Hampton was named the Pac-10 North Pitcher of the Week March 17 after his second shutout outing of the year (six innings) . . . at 3-2 on the year, he's worked 28.2 innings, allowing only nine earned runs and has walked only eight batters . . . RF Nick Stefonick has started 16 of 18 games this season . . . in home games, Stefonick is 9-for-22 with three doubles, a triple and a homer . . . IF Darin Nakagawa has played in 13 games as a defensive replacement . . . Jim Na has only seven starts, but has four doubles and a home run among his 11 hits . . . Pete Orgill has driven in nine runs with his 10 hits . . . he's started four games at catcher . . . reserve C/DH Kevin Ticen, who went 1-for-1 last season, is 3-for-7 with six RBI, a double and a home run . . . of his four career hits (in eight at bats), he has two doubles and a home run . . . reliever Wayne Lee has allowed only one hit, one walk and no runs while fanning eight batters over his last six outings (8.1 innings).
SOPHOMORES: LF Kyle Woods leads the Huskies with 12 extra-base hits and has five steals in five attempts . . . on his career, he's 16-for-18 stealing . . . this year, Woods has 12 multi-hit games . . . C/1B Dominic Woody has started 10 of 20 games at DH, 1B and C, and has gone 12-for-40 (.300) at the plate . . . Ed Erickson has started at first base and DH . . . he alreadyhas two stolen bases (he had none a year ago) . . . reserve OF Dwight DeMar has played in 12 games so far and earned his first career start in the Sunday game vs. Gonzaga . . . on the mound, Travis Anderson is 4-2 and has allowed only 28 hits in 32.1 innings . . . Anderson leads the Dawgs with his 34 Ks . . . reliever Ken Ferguson has fanned nine hitters and allowed only one base hit in 5.0 innings and has yet to allow a run.
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 13 times at second . . . over the last two weeks, he has raised his average 176 points . . . the other infielder to see action is SS Greg Brooks, who doubled in his first AB (vs. UCSB) . . . Jeff Carlsen has won all four of his pitching decisions. . . he's second on the team with 25 Ks and has allowed only six walks in 29 innings. . . John Gillespie has three starts and has surrendered only 13 hits in 17.1 IP . . . Matt Massingale leads the Huskies with 10 appearances . . . in 12 innings, he's fanned nine batters and allowed only four hits (all singles), four walks and one earned run . . . freshman lefty Matt Gardner earned his first victory Wednesday at San Francisco.
RANDOM NOTES: The Huskies were last shut out in the final game of the 1996 season (5-0 at USC), meaning that they've gone 86 straight without being blanked . . . opponents have been able to shut the Huskies out through the first three innings only 15 times in that span and the UW has scored in the first inning 48 times in those 86 games . . . last season after 20 games, Washington was 10-10 and went 36-10 the rest of the way to finish 46-20 . . . the Huskies' 14-6 start this season is the best since they went 17-3 in 1994.