May 13, 1999
THIS WEEK: In the final weekend of Pac-10 Conference play, the Washington baseball team (31-19 overall 11-10 Pac-10) travels to face No. 16 USC (31-22, 15-6), the defending NCAA champ, in a three-game series at Dedeaux Field. The Huskies, locked in a three-way tie for fourth place, are looking for wins in an attempt to finish as high as possible and increase their postseason hopes. USC still has a shot at the conference title, but will need some help as Stanford is two games ahead with three to play. Washington can finish as high as third and as low as sixth. Here's a look at this weekend's games:
Friday, May 14: Washington at USC, 7:00 p.m. -- KSRB AM-1150
Saturday, May 15: Washington at USC, 1:00 p.m. -- KSRB AM-1150
Sunday, May 16: Washington at USC, 1:00 p.m. -- KSRB AM-1150
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 257-151 (.630). With those 257 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 120-38 (.759) record in home games. He is 122-61 (.667) 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. .387-16-60 Tied for 1st in UW season HR/3rd in 2B/6th in RBI Jake Gann, RS-Fr. .194-0-5 Seven career starts as Woody's backup/5-2 as starter 1B -- Ed Erickson, Jr. .283-9-35 31 career home runs is new UW record 2B -- Brent Robertson, Fr. .242-1-14 Regular starter now that Rittenhouse is out for year SS -- Richard Hall, Fr. .206-1-8 Has started 32 at SS/first career HR Apr. 30 at WSU Greg Brooks, So. .246-0-6 Backs up all three infield positions/16 starts at SS 3B -- Kevin Ticen, Sr. .316-14-46 Former walkon/14 homers are fourth in UW history OF -- Nick Stefonick, Sr. .287-6-24 Returned to CF after missing three weeks (shoulder) OF -- Daniel Jahn, So. .316-4-15 7 starts in RF, 7 in LF, 3 at DH/9 pitching outings OF -- Matt Hollod, RS-Fr. .302-3-24 14 starts in LF/has hit leadoff with Rittenhouse out OF -- Dwight DeMar, Jr. .250-1-3 5 starts in OF, 1 at DH/first career HR Apr. 30 at WSU OF -- Bryan Williamson, Sr. .407-9-39 .358 career avg. is third in UW history (min. 300 AB) OF -- Todd Linden, Fr. .250-1-14 First baseman now seeing time as left fielder DH -- Pete Orgill, Sr. .288-7-24 Co-captain/only current Husky to have played USC
SERIES HISTORY: USC holds a commanding 16-1 series lead against the Huskies, though the two teams have played sparingly since the breakup of the Pac-10 in the 1970s. Since then, the only meeting was a three-game Pac-10 Championship Series in 1996 at Dedeaux Field, when the Trojans won the title, two games to one. The Huskies won the first game, but lost the next two. Senior DH Pete Orgill is the only current Husky to have played in those games, going 1-for-8 with a single in two starts.
EARLIER THIS WEEK: The Huskies split a pair of non-conference games with Gonzaga. In the first, the Huskies scored three in the seventh and two in the ninth to overcome a four-run deficit and win, 8-7. Jeff Heaverlo worked two scoreless relief innings for this 10th win. Wednesday, the Huskies were held to only four hits in a 7-2 loss. Kevin Ticen belted his 14th homer for Washington.
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 353-213 (.624) overall record and a 166-83 (.667) mark in Pac-10 play. Under coach Ken Knutson (1993-97), Washington is 171-70 (.710) against all teams from the Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) and 135-65 (.675) 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 159-50 (.761) over the last nine seasons. Under coach Ken Knutson, the Huskies have posted a remarkable 120-37 record in home games, good for a .764 mark. Last year, the Huskies moved into Husky Ballpark and have notched a 41-16 (.719) 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 57 games at Husky Ballpark (29 last season, 28 this year), the Huskies have belted 103 home runs, an average of 1.8 per game, while visitors have hit 70 home runs, or 1.2 per game. In 57 games, a total of 795 runs have been scored (both teams combined), an average of 13.9 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. Sophomore lefty Matt Gardner is out for the season with a shoulder injury and starting CF Nick Stefonick has missed four weeks with two separate shoulder injuries (one to each shoulder).
ALL-AMERICA CANDIDATE 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 All-America honors. In its mid-season 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."
Heaverlo, 10-2 with a 3.18 ERA, has broken the UW single-season (116) and career (288) strikeout records this season and is only the 10th Husky to win 10 or more games in a season and the fourth to win 20 in a career. He appears on 10 UW single-season and career top 10 charts.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. This year, he has worked 99 innings over 16 outings, fanning 116 while allowing only 88 hits. Over two relief outings (one win, one save), he has retired 9 of 10 batters, struck out five, walked none and allowed only an infield single.
ALL-AMERICA CANDIDATE DOMINIC WOODY: In his first season as a starter, junior catcher Dominic Woody has made the most of his opportunity. In 50 games this season, Woody has blasted 16 home runs to tie the UW single-season home runs record, held by Mike Blowers (1986) and Ryan Lentz (1998). His 23 career bombs rank him fifth on that ledger. Additionally, he's third on the UW single-season doubles chart with 20 and sixth with 60 RBI. He leads the Huskies in those three stats, as well as hits, runs and slugging. As his reputation has grown, Woody has seen fewer and fewer strikes, walking 30 times and getting hit by 11 pitches. Behind the plate, Woody has been effective as well, posting a .986 fielding percentage (three of five errors are catcher's interference). In his 53 career starts at catcher, Woody, a Richland (Wash.) High graduate, has batted .388 (83-for-214) with 76 RBI and 58 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 .303 (37-for-122).
ERICKSON: By breaking the UW career home runs last Friday, 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., broke Kevin Miller's mark of 30 home runs, and now has nine on the year and 31 in his three-year career. 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 after the nine games out of the lineup, 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.
STEFONICK: After a torrid finish to last season, and a hot start this year, senior outfielder Nick Stefonick looked to be on pace for another strong season, one that would cement his place as one of the best outfielders in UW history. Two shoulder injuries (one to each shoulder) have made it a struggle. Stefonick has missed 15 games due to the two injuries. Last year, 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. Despite missing so much action this season, Stefonick has worked his way on to several UW career charts. His .344 career average ranks No. 8, his 117 career RBI are good for 10th place and his 36 doubles tie him for ninth.
WILLIAMSON: This year, not everything has gone the way Bryan Williamson would have liked. A shoulder injury has kept him off the mound for almost the entire 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 20 games, Williamson has batted .468 (37-for-79) with 23 runs, 21 RBI, 10 doubles and six homers. Perhaps the Huskies' most experienced player, Williamson has compiled numerous career highlights with the bat and on the mound. A .358 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 64-for-147 (.435) to raise his average to a team-leading .407. Aside from his .358 career average, which ranks him third in UW history, he also appears on several other career UW top-10s: hits (9th with 187), RBI (7th with 124), doubles (tied for 9th with 36) and home runs (10th with 18).
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 12 starts. In eight of his last 10 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. Last week, Carlsen (who ranks 10th in UW history in career wins with 14) 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 11 of his last 16 games . . . during that span, he's gone 17-for-48 (.354) with 15 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 8-for-13 in save opportunities and hasn't allowed a run in 18 of his 24 appearances . . . Massingale's eight 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 . . . senior 3B Kevin Ticen's 14 homers this year are fourth 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 . . . freshmen relievers Shawn Kohn and Taylor Grant have become regulars out of the bullpen . . . combined, the two are 3-1 with two saves and have walked 19 while fanning 35 . . . over his last nine outings, Grant has allowed only two runs on 12 hits, seven walks and 18 Ks in 14.1 innings, good for a 1.26 ERA . . . over his last four outings, freshman LHP Zack Daniels has allowed four hits and no runs in 6.2 innings . . . freshman 2B Brent Robertson hit his first career HR -- a grand slam -- April 30 at Washington State.
RANDOM NOTES: The UW's 81 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 . . . incidentally, only one USC player is from outside the state of California (Tim Petke, Oregon) . . . this season, UW is 21-7 in games in which either Jeff Carlsen or Jeff Heaverlo has pitched . . . the Huskies have not lost three games in a row this season, losing two straight on seven different occassions . . . Heaverlo could tie or break three UW records in his next start -- he needs one start to tie the record of 40 career, 5.0 innings for the career mark and one win to tie the single-season record.