College World Series preview: Stanford

 Barry Allen and Chris Lee   in Baseball

After blowing through the Lubbock Super Regional, Stanford plays an elimination game with Vanderbilt on Wednesday. 

Photo courtesy of Texas Tech athletics.

Stanford Cardinal (39-16)

RPI: 7 (No. 19 strength of schedule)

League finish: third in Pac-12

CoachDavid Esquer (135-53 in 4 yrs. at Stanford, 660-520-2 overall)

CWS appearance: 17th

National titles: 1987, 1988

Stanford has to be considered one of the blue-bloods of college baseball.

With two national titles (1987-88) under its belt and 17 trips to the College World Series, this year’s Stanford team will do something no other Cardinal team has done before.

The Cardinal will play for the very first time at TD Ameritrade Park. The ballpark hosted its first CWS in 2011. Stanford has not been to Omaha since 2008.

Stanford will bring a “cardinal”-hot, power-hitting team into Omaha. The Cardinal mashed Texas Tech in the Lubbock Super Regional, outscoring the Red Raiders 24-3 in the two-game sweep.

Stanford head coach Dave Esquer brings his second team to Omaha as head coach. Esquer was the head coach at Cal when the Bears reached Omaha in 2011. He has participated at the CWS as a player, assistant coach and head coach. Esquer played on the 1987 Stanford national championship team and was on the staff when the Cardinal reached Omaha in 1995.

The lineup (Estimated runs created per 27 outs, according to a Bill James formula. Also, Stanford will likely face a right-hander in Wednesday's game with Vanderbilt.)

1. Eddie Park (L), LF (5.9) vs RHP: .333/.448/.333

2. Tim Tawa (R), 2B (6.7) vs. RHP: .265/.347/.432

3. Brock Jones (L), CF (10.4) vs RHP: .312/.459/.660

4. Kody Huff (R), C (5.6) vs. RHP: .263/.348/.378

5. Christian Robinson (L), RF (8.9) vs. RHP: .328/.424/.448

6. Nick Brueser (R), 1B (8.0) vs. RHP: .331/.401/.586

7. Drew Bowser (R), 3B (6.4) vs. RHP: .306/.356/.503

8. Tommy Troy (R), DH (6.7) vs. RHP: .236/.344/.425

9. Adam Crampton (R), SS (5.0) vs. RHP: .291/.360/.376

Res: Brett Barrera (R), 1B (4.1)

Res: Henry Gargus (L), RF/LF (5.7)

The story on offense lies with the long ball. Stanford led the Pac 12 with 80 home runs this season and has bashed its way to Omaha during the NCAA Tournament.

The Cardinal have hit 17 home runs in the post season, the second most of any team in the field. Stanford has homered in all six NCAA tournament games, including four home runs in the Palo Alto Regional opener against North Dakota State and four more long balls in the Super Regional-clinching win at Texas Tech.

Jones belted three home runs in the Super Regional-clinching win at Texas Tech.  

Tawa (4), Jones (3), Huff (3) and Troy (3) have 13 of the team’s 17 homers in the post season.

Jones ranks fourth in the Pac 12 with 16 home runs this season. He is sixth in the league in runs scored (53) and sixth in RBIs (54).

A solid defensive unit, Stanford ranks 10th nationally in fielding (.980) and has the second-best fielding mark in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal has posted three straight errorless post-season games.

Vincent Martinez (.312/.387/.500) was Stanford's starting catcher and hasn't played since May 29 and we can't find publicly where there's a reason for that. 

Pitching

SP1 Brendan Beck (R) 106 IP, 9-2, 3.06 ERA, 1.00 base runners/inning pitched, 6% free passes, 32% K (threw 109 pitches on 6-19)

SP2 Alex Williams  (R) 55.1 IP, 5-2, 3.42 ERA, 1.08 BRIP, 10% FP, 24% K (90 / 6-21)

SP3 Quinn Matthews (L) 61.1 IP, 5-2, 6.02 ERA, 1.60 BRIP, 14% FP, 20% K (24 / 6-19)

SP4 Drew Dowd (L) 37.1 IP, 2-1, 6.99 ERA, 2.06 BRIP, 16% FP, 21% K 

CL Zach Grech (R) 49.2 IP, 5-5, 13 sv, 3.62 ERA, 1.33 BRIP, 11% FP, 16% K (29 / 6-19)

RP1 Brett Pancer (R) 42.1 IP, 5-2, 3.83 ERA, 1.56 BRIP, 11% FP, 15% K 

RP2 Tommy O'Rourke (R) 24.1 IP, 1-0, 4.07 ERA, 1.56 BRIP, 20% FP, 23% K

RP3 Jacob Palisch (L) 34.1 IP, 2-0, 2 sv, 3.93 ERA, 1.40 BRIP, 8% FP, 19% K  (33 / 6-21)

RP4 Austin Weirmiller (L) 24.2 IP, 2-0, 6.29 ERA, 1.48 BRIP, 14% BB, 21% K (8 / 6-19)

RP 5 Jonathan Worley (R) 12 IP, 1-0, 8.25 ERA, 2.17 BRIP, 15% FP, 21% K  

RP6 Joey Dixon (R) 35.2 IP, 2-1, 2 sv, 3.28 ERA, 1.40 BRIP, 17% FP, 10% K (11 / 6-19)

The Cardinal rely heavily on its pitching staff, anchored by Beck and Williams.

The duo is a combined 4-0 on the mound in the post season. Williams has allowed one earned run and five hits in 16 innings against UC Irvine and Texas Tech. The right-hander turned in a performance for the ages in the win at Texas Tech. He hurled a complete-game, two-hitter with 10 strikeouts as the Cardinal punched the ticket to Omaha. Beck has allowed four runs and 13 hits in 14 1/3 innings.

Beck has 22 strikeouts in two post-season starts, including a career-high 13 strikeouts at Texas Tech. He leads the Pac 12 and ranks 10th nationally with 128 strikeouts. The 128 strikeouts are the most by a Stanford pitcher since Mark Appel (130) in 2013.

Grech is one of the nation’s top closers. He leads the Pac 12 and ranks fourth nationally with 13 saves this season.