In what has become an annual early-season series, Texas will take on traditional power Stanford on the diamond this weekend. First, the details: this evening's game is at 6 PM on Longhorn Network, tomorrow's is at 2:00 PM on Longhorn Network, and Sunday's is at 1:00 PM on...Longhorn Network. This is my first baseball season with LHN in my home, so I am pretty psyched. Deepest apologies to those of you who don't have access. On the plus side, it's looking like a nice weekend of baseball weather, so if you live in Austin spend part of it at the Disch.
On to the matchups: Stanford will bring three freshman starting pitchers against the Longhorns' three juniors. That should illustrate for you how young this team is. On the entire extended roster, the Cardinal has only four seniors, compared to 13 freshmen. Legendary coach Mark Marquess has decided to introduce the young men to college ball with a sense of immediacy, as each of the Cardinal's pre-conference weekend series is against a major (or at least major-conference) opponent.
While Texas was just across the San Francisco Bay in Berkeley, Stanford was hosting a three-game series against Rice last weekend. The Owls took the first two games until Stanford's bats woke up to drub Rice 12-3 in the finale. In that one, Stanford had 14 hits--six for extra bases--after combining for just 11 in the first two contests. They continued the offensive onslaught in their midweek game at San Jose State, which they won 9-3. So Stanford comes in 2-2 to face the 3-2 Longhorns.
Freshman pitcher Cal Quantrill got the Friday start against Rice and his youth showed, as he gave up four runs in 4.2 innings of work. His potential also showed, though, and it's my opinion that Texas is lucky to be getting him in his second start rather than his 10th. On the offensive side, two of those four seniors are leading the charge so far for Stanford. Brett Michael Doran is 6-for-10 thus far, including a homer, a double, and a triple already. Danny Diekroger is not far behind, going 7 of 13 with a pair of doubles while starting all four games. The Stanford lineup has shown some long-ball pop as well, with three dingers aside from Doran's already--two by sophomore outfielder Zach Hoffpauir.
For the Longhorns, former closer Austin Wood broke some big news on Twitter this week:
Shoutout to the new @Texas_Baseball closer @NathanThornhill welcome to the club!!— Austin Wood (@AustinTx_wood) February 20, 2014
So apparently Nathan Thornhill has joined the ranks of UT closers. I'm cautiously optimistic about the move, and as Jeff pointed out as we discussed this weekend's series, the Texas coaching staff has been as successful at handling pitchers as it has been utter failures at handling hitters. Hopefully Texas will have a late lead more than once this weekend so we can see him in action.
Two young teams from storied programs meet in Austin this weekend, and both should have bright futures assuming their underclassmen pan out as expected. Given that Texas is at home and has more experienced pitching, I'll predict a 2-1 series win for the Longhorns.
Your starting pitching matchups, from Texas Sports.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Fr. RHP Cal Quantrill (0-1, 7.71) vs. Jr. RHP Parker French (0-1, 0.00)
Fr. RHP Brett Hanewich (0-0, 0.00) vs. Jr. LHP Dillon Peters (0-0, 0.00)
Fr. RHP Chris Viall (1-0, 5.40) Jr. RHP Lukas Schiraldi (1-0, 1.29)
This is your open thread. Hook 'em!