May 3, 2005
It doesn't get much better than a nice, warm afternoon at Sunken Diamond. Over the years, droves of fans have derived much pleasure from the crack of the bat, the pop of the glove, a little chatter from the dugout, or simple conversations with a new or old friend.
Junior pitcher Mark Romanczuk feels the same way.
'I just want to absorb everything and take it all in,' explains Romanczuk.
The way he pitched during his first two seasons, it would be easy to understand his affinity for Stanford Baseball and Sunken Diamond. Romanczuk had a meteoric rise to success as a freshman when he won his first 12 decisions. He posted a 23-5 record in his first two campaigns on The Farm, earning back-to-back All-Pac-10 honors and being named as one of four National Freshmen of the Year by Collegiate Baseball in 2003.
But after struggling with a 5-5 mark to this point in 2005 and being moved down to the No. 2 starter role, some might think that this season has been anything but enjoyable for him.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
When he was moved down a spot in the pitching rotation last month after a few subpar outings, it would have been easy to get discouraged or maybe even sulk, but he has done just the opposite.
Instead, he is savoring every remaining moment of his college baseball career and has also responded by regaining the effectiveness he experienced in his first two seasons on The Farm. In 23.1 innings since moving into the No. 2 spot, he has allowed just four earned runs for a 1.54 ERA. In a recent stretch where Stanford's pitching staff tossed 37.0 consecutive frames without allowing an earned run, Romanczuk was responsible for 13.0 of them.
'The first two and a half years (at Stanford) everything just seemed to go by so quickly,' explains Romanczuk. 'But in the last month or so things have really kind of slowed down for me, and I actually think that has helped me pitch better.'
Even with the 2005 MLB First-Year Player Draft looming next month for the draft-eligible southpaw, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' fifth-round pick of the 2002 draft is intent on enjoying every precious moment remaining with Stanford Baseball.
And it's not only his recent return to success that he is enjoying but maybe even more so the relationships he has developed.
'As gorgeous as Palm Drive is, as wonderful as the athletic facilities are, or as prestigious of a university that Stanford is, it's the people that make this place,' he says.
Romanczuk has had great relationships with plenty of his teammates during his three years at Stanford and reminisces about the six different classes (2003-08) of student-athletes that he has played baseball with during his time on The Farm.
He says that he loves to win but it's the whole experience of Stanford Baseball that is the most important.
Now, he feels like he wants to give something back.
'Hopefully, the younger guys are going to remember things I say and do, and hopefully that will keep them going in both tough and good times,' says Romanczuk. 'That's an important role of mine at this point. Stanford Baseball has given a lot to me, and it's time for us veteran guys to give back and leave our stamp on the program. I hope that I am making a good impression.'
He believes he is doing just that for the next generation of Stanford Baseball players primarily through his actions.
'I hope they've seen that no matter whether things are going well or going bad, I still get my work in and put my nose to the grindstone,' he explains. 'You have to stay even-keeled and not get too high or low. I think that's the biggest reason I've been able to have success here.'
The youngsters should be listening and observing because Romanczuk has indeed enjoyed tremendous success at Stanford to the tune of 28 career wins that rank tied for sixth on the school's all-time list, and he's hoping to contribute a few more before what many consider a subpar 2005 season for the Cardinal is over.
'We understand the magnitude of every game and realize that we have dug ourselves a hole,' says Romanczuk about the 2005 Cardinal that is currently the Pac-10's fifth-place squad. 'But, we really believe we can make something happen and go far in the playoffs.'
And, he'll absorb every last drop.
By Kyle McRae