Nine's Notebook: 5/8/08

May 8, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - The No. 6 Stanford baseball team (28-16-2, 10-5 Pac-10) is preparing for a three-game series against the California Golden Bears this weekend and is only 1.5 games behind first place Arizona State. The team has three more weekends left in the regular season and will finish their season with nine of the last 10 against Pac-10 schools.

We caught up with Stanford Head Coach Mark Marquess, who talks about the Golden Bears and gives an update on the team to date:

On the team to this point:

'I am very pleased with how our team has played up to this point. At the halfway point we are in a very nice position in league and that is something that is encouraging. With the league being as good as it is and with the fact that Jeremy Bleich hasn't pitched, I am very happy with where our team is at. Our pitching in general has been very good and we have stepped up in many key situations and gotten a lot of big hits. We have also played better defense as of late and that is another reason we have had the success this year.

On the offensive surge:

'When the weather gets warmer offense often picks up with it. The fields are also harder this time of year, which also helps out and most teams just hit better in general the deeper you get into the season. We did this last year where we hit the ball well at the end of the year and were able to finish last year strong, which we hope we can do this season as well. We have hit the ball hard and been able to put up a lot of extra base hits, which has really helped us.

On California:

'Cal is a premiere team in this league and was projected to be top three in the league in the preseason. They have been a good team for many years now and are always well coached and are always a tough out in this league. They have one of the best pitchers in the country in Tyson Ross and have unbelievable power in their lineup. Arizona State and California have the most home runs in league so you always have to be careful with them when they are hitting the ball well. They have played very well this season, which was to be expected because they are a very good baseball team. They hit well, they pitch well and have had lots of contributions from freshman pitchers that they might not have anticipated before the season. They are very good defensively and have had a very successful year because they are a very strong baseball team.

On the starting pitching:

'When Bleich went down we have really had great contributions from a lot of pitchers. Erik Davis though has really stepped up and has had a phenomenal year for us. He has really been able to go deep into games in the middle games and has really helped out our bullpen with his four complete games. Our pitching success has started with Davis and we would not be where we are today without his contributions.

On finishing the season strong on the road:

'We have to keep playing at a high level because this league is so good and so deep. Oregon State is playing well, Washington is playing well and the league is about as good as it has been in the last 25 years. If you don't play well everyday, you simply will get beat because every team in this league is capable, especially when they are playing on their home field. When we go on the road we have to be in the mindset that we need to win every series and we need to execute because anything can happen in the Pac-10 and there are no easy victories. You just hope to not face a team when they are hot because there are so many capable players in this league, hot teams are extremely tough to defeat. With the conference so close together in the standings, a lot can change these final three weekends and we will have to keep playing at a high level to stay where we are in league.

On the Cal-Stanford rivalry:

'The rivalry is always healthy as it is with many of the sports we have here. California is a very good team and has always been a good program and they will be tough to beat this weekend. They have been playing well and we will have to play well this weekend. There should be good crowds this weekend and the rivalry is as good as ever.

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