May 6, 1999
THIS WEEK: The Washington baseball team (29-16 overall, 10-8 Pac-10) plays an important conference series against Arizona State (36-18, 9-9). Only one game separates third-place Washington from sixth-place Arizona State as both teams have six remaining league games. The Huskies are tied with UCLA and Arizona is in fifth place at 11-10. All three UW-ASU games will air live on KSRB AM-1150, while Saturday's game will also be carried on tape delay by Fox Sports Northwest (airs Sunday at 1:00 p.m.). Here's a look at this weekend's games, with probable Husky starting pitchers:
Thu., May 6: Arizona State at UW, 6:30 p.m. -- RHP Jeff Heaverlo (8-2, 3.24)
Fri., May 7: Arizona State at UW, 6:30 p.m. -- RHP Jeff Carlsen (7-1, 4.30)
Sat., May 8: Arizona State at UW, 1:00 p.m. -- RHP Travis Anderson (2-2, 6.39)
PAC-10 NEW ERA: The 1999 season marks a new era in Pacific-10 Conference baseball as the league returns to a unified, one-division schedule after spending the past 27seasons broken into northern and southern divisions. The change, which would probably have come in the next few years anyway, was hastened after Portland State dropped its baseball program last June. That left the Northern Division with only three teams, too few to make a division. This year, the nine Pac-10 teams (Oregon doesn't have a baseball team) will play a 24-game schedule, with the regular season champion earning the league's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. For the last four seasons, the winners of the two divisions met in a three-game series for the Pac-10's overall title. After USC won the 1995 and 1996 titles, Washington went on to wear the 1997 and 1998 Pac-10 crowns.
COACH "K": In six-plus 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 255-148 (.633). With those 255 wins, he is the second-winningest coach in Washington history, trailing only Bob MacDonald (422), and has passed legendary Tubby Graves (209), who coached 24 seasons. 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 118-35 (.771) record in home games. He is 121-59 (.672) 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, Joe Weis and Brett Merrick.
PLAYER NOTES: Here's a look at the possible starters at each position, with current stats and notes:
Pos. Player, Year Avg.-HR-RBI Notes C --Dominic Woody, Jr. .399-15-66 Tied UW single-season homer record on Wed. Jake Gann, RS-Fr. .194-0-5 Seven career starts as Woody's backup/5-2 as starter 1B --Ed Erickson, Jr. .282-8-30 30 career home runs tied with K. Miller for UW record Todd Linden, Fr. .250-0-12 UW 7-2 in games he's started (6 at 1B, 2 LF, 1 DH) 2B --Brent Robertson, Fr. .271-1-12 Regular starter now that Rittenhouse is out for year SS --Richard Hall, Fr. .188-1-7 Has started 27 at SS/First career HR Friday at WSU Greg Brooks, So. .242-0-6 Backs up all three infield positions/16 starts at SS 3B --Kevin Ticen, Sr. .333-13-42 Co-captain/13 homers sixth in UW history OF --Nick Stefonick, Sr. .284-6-23 Missed last two weeks after shoulder inj./could DH OF --Daniel Jahn, So. .324-4-15 7 starts in RF, 7 in LF, 3 at DH/8 pitching outings OF --Matt Hollod, RS-Fr. .297-3-21 14 starts in LF/hit two-run triple Wed. vs. Portland OF --Tyson Boston, So. .319-4-21 18 starts in OF/last nine games: .448, 11 RBI, 3 2B OF --Bryan Williamson, Sr. .407-8-34 In home games: .525 (31-for-59), 7 2B, 7 HR, 20 RBI DH --Pete Orgill, Sr. .286-6-22 Co-captain/22 career HRs are sixth in UW history
SERIES HISTORY: Arizona State and UW faced eachother for the first time last season, when they met in a three-game, non-conference series at Husky Ballpark. UW won the first two and ASU took the third.
EARLIER THIS WEEK: The Huskies split a pair of non-conference games with Portland. In the first, on Tuesday, the Huskies scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to win, 2-1. Pinch runner Dwight DeMar, trying to go to third on a grounder to short, had the throw go off his helmet and into the dugout. Freshman Taylor Grant earned the win in relief. Wednesday, the Huskies lost a 5-0 lead and lost, 10-6. Junior Dominic Woody tied the UW single-season record with his 16th home run.
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 fifth Pac-10 North title in the 1990s and their second Pac-10 overall championship. In the 1990s, Washington has made four NCAA Regional appearances, more than any team from the Northwest. During the current decade, the Huskies have posted a 351-210 (.626) overall record and a 165-81 (.671) mark in Pac-10 play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-97), Washington is 170-69 (.711) against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and 134-64 (.677) against Division I teams from the Northwest. Knutson has a winning record against every Northwest team (12) he has faced.
LET THERE BE LIGHTS: Along with the move into a unified Pac-10 and the expansion of the NCAA Tournament field from 48 to 64 teams -- not to mention the infamous bat controversy -- there's another new wrinkle for the Washington baseball program the year as lights have been installed at Husky Ballpark, allowing the Huskies to play their first night home games ever. The Huskies will play most weekday games at 6:30 p.m., while all Saturday and Sunday games are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. In all, 16 of the Huskies' 31 home games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. starts.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Washington has been very tough at home in the 1990s, posting a mark of 157-47 (.770) over the last nine seasons. Under coach Ken Knutson, the Huskies have posted a remarkable 118-35 record in home games, good for a .771 mark. Last year, the Huskies moved into Husky Ballpark and have notched a 39-13 (.750) record so far. The 29 home games last season were the most ever in school history, a mark that should fall this year as the Dawgs are scheduled to play 31 home contests.
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 52 games at Husky Ballpark (29 last season, 23 this year), the Huskies have belted 98 home runs, an average of 1.9 per game, while visitors have hit 63 home runs, or 1.2 per game. In 52 games, a total of 729 runs have been scored (both teams combined), an average of 14.0 per game.
INJURY BUG: More than in any time in Ken Knutson's tenure as Husky coach, injuries have taken their toll on the Huskies this season. At least 10 players this season have missed games due to injury, with at least six different players missing 10 or more. Perhaps the most crucial injury was suffered by leadoff hitter and starting second baseman Marc Rittenhouse, who will miss the rest of the season with a fracture in his left foot. Also out for the year is reserve catcher/DH Jason Koehler, who will require shoulder surgery after a dislocation. Starting CF Nick Stefonick has missed the last two weekends due to a shoulder injury, but may return as a designated hitter/pinch hitter this weekend. He also missed two weeks earlier this year.
JEFF HEAVERLO: Thanks to a hard fastball and one of college baseball's hardest and nastiest sliders, junior Jeff Heaverlo has earned a national reputation as one of the country's best pitchers. Heaverlo, a right-hander from Ephrata, Wash., is one of the the NCAA's hottest prospects and a candidate for national player of the year honors. In its recent draft update, Baseball America named him college's No. 4 prospect. BA also named him a first-team preseason All-American and the Pac-10's preseason pitcher of the year. The magazine said that, "Heaverlo may be the most polished pitcher in college baseball."
April 18 vs. CS Northridge, he broke the UW career strikeouts record and now has 275 over 250.1 career innings (9.89 Ks per nine innings). He also has three of the top six strikeout seasons in UW history and is only seven Ks shy of Jake Kringen's single-season UW mark of 110. Heaverlo greatly improved his reputation over the summer when he was named the Cape Cod League's co-pitcher of the year after posting a 7-1 record with a 3.09 ERA and 94 Ks in 67 innings. In 14 outings (13 starts) this year, Heaverlo is 8-2 with a stellar 3.24 ERA. He has allowed only 80 hits and struck out 103 batters in 89.0 innings.
WOODY: In his first season as a full-time starter, junior catcher Dominic Woody has made the most of his opportunity. In 45 games this season, Woody has blasted 16 home runs to tie the UW single-season home runs record, set in 1986 by Mike Blowers and tied last season by Ryan Lentz. His 23 career bombs rank him fifth on that ledger. Additionally, he's tied for fifth on the UW single-season doubles chart with 18 on the year. Woody is leading the Dawgs with his 65 hits, 18 doubles, 16 homers, 56 RBI and .804 slugging percentage. He has spent most of the season as the Huskies' leader in batting average, but has recently been overtaken by hot-hitting Bryan Williamson. As his reputation has grown, Woody has seen fewer and fewer strikes, walking 25 times and getting hit by 11 pitches. Behind the plate, Woody has been effective as well, posting a .983 fielding percentage (three of five errors are catcher's interference). In his 48 career starts at catcher, Woody, a Richland (Wash.) High graduate, has batted .398 (78-for-196) with 72 RBI and 57 runs. Also, 20 of his 23 career homers are as a starting catcher. In all other games (starting at DH or 1B, or coming off the bench), he has hit .306 (37-for-121). Currently, Woody is on an eight-game hitting streak, during which he is 15-for-34 (.441) with eight doubles and three homers.
ERICKSON: By tying the UW career home runs record March 14, junior first baseman Ed Erickson has the credentials to rank as, perhaps, the best left-handed power hitter in UW history. Erickson, from Yakima, Wash., tied Kevin Miller's mark of 30 home runs, and now has eight on the year. With 11 games to go in his junior season, he seems certain to set a new standard. As a freshman in 1997, Erickson belted eight homers in only 99 at bats, and after a slow start last year, came on to hit 14 home runs in 166 ABs. After spraining his left (non-throwing) wrist in the March 27 UCLA game, he missed nine games. He played against Stanford and Oregon State last week, but then took five more games off to get a more thorough rest and prepare for the final stretch half of the Pac-10 schedule. Erickson returned to the lineup against Oregon State and would seem ready to go for the remainder of the season.
STEFONICK: If there was a player anywhere that finished the 1998 season on a hotter streak than Husky senior Nick Stefonick, that player must truly have been on fire. After all, Stefonick, an outfielder from Seattle, closed out his junior year with a 16-game hitting streak, a tear that covered the Pac-10 Championship and the NCAA Central Regional. Stefonick hit safely in 25 of his last 26, a span during which he hit .464 (52-for-112) with 31 runs, 43 RBI, 13 doubles, three triples and three homers. His final batting average of .407 was tops in the Pac-10 North and the second-highest in UW history, earning him a spot on the All-Pac-10 North first team. In the 1999 opening weekend at Dixie Tournament, he earned MVP honors after extending his hitting streak to 19 games by going 6-for-12 with six runs, 10 RBI, two doubles and three home runs. Feb. 20 at Cal State Northridge, he bumped it up to 21 games, one short of the school record, but dislocated his shoulder sliding into second base in that game. March 5, he returned to the lineup and saw his streak broken at 21 games. He had a nine-game hitting streak broken April 23. Prior to that game, he separated his right shoulder in batting practice. Stefonick has sat out the last seven games, but could return to action this weekend, most likely as a DH or pinch hitter.
WILLIAMSON: This year, not everything has gone the way Bryan Williamson would have liked. A shoulder injury has kept him off the mound for much of the season and out of the outfield for much of it as well. But now that the 6-foot-6 senior has returned to his starting spot in right field, he has hit a hot streak. Over the last 15 games, Williamson has batted .491 (28-for-57) with 19 runs, 16 RBI, nine doubles and five homers. Perhaps the Huskies' most experienced player, Williamson has compiled numerous career highlights with the bat and on the mound. A .352 career hitter, he has earned All-Pac-10 North accolades, while also earning an invitation to the USA National Team camp in 1997. This season, after starting the year only 4-for-his-first-20 at bats, he has gone 55-for-125 (.440) to raise his average to a team-leading .407. He's also second on the team with 14 doubles and third with eight home runs.
CARLSEN: At 6-foot-7, freshman right-hander Jeff Carlsen is the tallest member of the Husky roster, but that's not what makes him notable. Instead, Carlsen made a name for himself last season by acting as the most consistent member of the Husky pitching staff. The sophomore from Poulsbo, Wash., posted a 7-3 record and a 4.39 earned run average, best on the team among starters. He was the only freshman to be named to the All-Pac-10 North first-team while he also earned first-team freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball. On April 4 of last season, Carlsen hurled the most impressive game in recent UW history when he threw a one-hit shutout against Washington State. For that performance, he earned Pac-10 North Pitcher of the Week and TPX National Player of the Week. He has been nothing short of spectacular this season, amassing a 7-1 record in 11 starts. In seven of his last nine starts, he has worked at least seven innings and has yielded more than five earned runs in only one outing this year. He has also been the winning pitcher in three one-run ballgames. Tuesday, Carlsen was one of 33 freshmen and sophomores invited to the USA National Team training camp this summer.
NOTABLES: In a recent issue, Baseball America named Travis Anderson the No. 21 college prospect in the nation . . . left fielder Matt Hollod has hit safely in eight of his last 11 games. . . during that span, he's gone 13-for-37 (.351) with 12 RBI and three homers . . . in 11 of his 25 appearances last year, sophomore reliever Matt Massingale did not allow a hit . . . this year, Massingale is 7-for-12 in save opportunities and hasn't allowed a run in 17 of his 22 appearances . . . Massingale's seven saves lead the Pac-10 and are fifth-most in UW single-season history . . . co-captain Pete Orgill ranks fifth in UW history with 22 career HR . . . 29 of senior Kevin Ticen's 70 career hits have gone for extra bases . . . Ticen's 13 homers this year are sixth in UW history . . . Ticen should break the UW school record for getting hit by pitch . . . his total of 18 this season is only one short of Christian Shewey's record of 19, set in 1994 . . . over his current six-game hitting streak, Ticen has batted .519 (14-for-27) with seven runs, 11 RBI and three homers . . . freshmen relievers Shawn Kohn and Taylor Grant have become regulars out of the bullpen . . . combined, the two are 3-0 with two saves and have walked 11 while fanning 17 . . . over his last seven outings, Grant has allowed only one run on eight hits, three walks and 11 Ks in 8.2 innings, good for a 1.-4 ERA . . . over his last three outings, freshman LHP Zack Daniels has allowed four hits and no runs in 6.1 innings . . . sophomore lefty Mike Bomar has been strong lately . . . in his last four appearances, he has worked 12.1 innings, allowing one earned run on 11 hits while fanning 13 . . . freshman 2B Brent Robertson hit his first career HR -- a grand slam -- last Friday at Washington State.
RANDOM NOTES: The UW's 76 home runs are third in team history . . . before the 1997 season, 47 home runs was the school record (1986) . . . 32 of the 35 players on the UW roster are from the state of Washington . . . this season, Washington is 19-6 in games in which either Jeff Carlsen or Jeff Heaverlo has pitched . . . the UW has 11 games left on the regular season . . . here's how the UW has fared in its last 11 regular-season games each season under Ken Knutson: 1998 -- 9-2; 1997 -- 11-0; 1996 -- 7-4; 1995 -- 5-6; 1994 -- 9-2; 1993 -- 9-2 . . . all totalled, that's a 50-16 record (.758).