They're producing in baseball
Stanford baseball players Danny Putnam and Mark Romanczuk get a second chance at a championship trophy this summer as members of the United States national baseball team.
Team USA heads for the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic beginning Saturday and the Americans are favored to meet Cuba in the title game, though the host Dominicans are also one of the top teams.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for Aug. 8, with the medal games slated for Aug. 12.
Team USA takes a 22-0 record in exhibition games, including nine by shutout, into the Pan Am Games and features a pitching staff that has combined to allow less than an earned run a game.
"Everybody wants to beat the USA," said American coach Ray Tanner. "We have to be prepared. We can't be happy with our exhibition record. We're trying to get into a position to win a gold medal."
Putnam and Romanczuk have been a big part of the Team USA success this season. Both players didn't have much time to fret over their loss to Rice in the College World Series title game. Less than six hours later, they were traveling to join their Team USA teammates.
"I didn't have a chance to get down," said Putnam. "I played a game 12 hours later with a whole bunch of different guys."
Putnam picked up where he left off. After batting .348 for the Cardinal in the spring, he's at .337 with a pair of home runs and 17 RBI with the national team in the third or fourth spot in the order.
"When a guy like Putnam gets hot other guys feed off that," said Tanner. "You're talking about the top talent in the country. I can't say enough good things about the caliber of people we have here."
Putnam has a team-high 29 hits and is tied for third with 17 runs scored.
Romanczuk has been brilliant with the national team. He didn't allow a run in his first 22 innings and has won four games. He has 26 strikeouts in 28 innings and has an ERA of 0.96.
He's joined in the rotation by, among others, Long Beach State's Jered Weaver and Old Dominion's Justin Verlander. Weaver has thrown 32 2/3 scoreless innings and has two victories. Verlander is 5-0 with an 0.79 ERA.
Texas' Huston Street, in his third year with the national team, in unscored upon in 17 1/3 innings and has six saves.
"It's been unbelievable," said Putnam. "If we put up a couple of runs early we know we'll have a good shot at winning. Playing behind these guys allows us to swing aggressively."
Putnam had 16 homers and drive in 66 runs while earning all-Pac-10, all-Regional and all-College World Series honors with Stanford.
"The pitching staff has been remarkable," said Tanner, coaching his fifth national team. "The guys have worked hard and it's a super group to be around. I'm anxious to get to the Dominican and excited about the opportunity to compete for a gold medal." Tanner helped coach the 2000 Olympic gold medal team which was headed by Tommy Lasorda, and was an assistant for the 1996 bronze medal team in Atlanta.
Street is in his third straight summer with Team USA. He played on the national team last year and the junior national team in 2001.
"This is an opportunity you don't turn down," said Street. "It's a life experience, and you're representing your country with some of the best talent in the country."
Putnam and Romanczuk, 12-2 with a 4.01 ERA in his freshman year, are the 21st and 22nd Stanford players to compete for the national team in the past 19 years.
The national team concluded its exhibition season on Monday with an 11-1 win over the Great Lake All-Stars in Strongsville, Ohio. Putnam had an RBI double.
Stanford junior Josh Childress is on the 12-man team that will compete in Santo Domingo following a six-day training camp that wrapped up Tuesday in Orlando, Fla. Childress is the second Stanford player to be named to the USA Pan Am Games team. In 1991, Adam Keefe was a starter on the U.S. team that won the bronze medal in Cuba. For Childress, this will be the second time that he has represented the USA. In 2000, he earned a silver medal as a member of the USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival West Team. Childress averaged 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season while helping Stanford to a 24-9 record. He ranked second in the Pac-10 in rebounding.
Stanford will be well-represented in the Dominican Republic by Jayme Cramer, Peter Marshall, Kristen Caverly, Laura Davis and Dana Kirk.
Cramer, who was fifth in the 100- and 200-yard butterflys at the 2003 NCAA championships, will swim the 100 back. Marshall, who won the 100-yard back at NCAAs this past spring, will challenge Cramer in the 100-meter back.
Caverly, who prior to the recent FINA World Championships in Barcelona was ranked 11th in the world in both the 200 IM and 400 IM, will swim the longer medley race. Davis, who placed fourth in the 200 IM at the 2002 Phillips 66 Summer Nationals, will go in that event.
Kirk, younger sister of Stanford breaststroker Tara Kirk, was a member of last summer's Pan Pacific team after swimming to a second in the 200 fly and a fifth in the 100 fly at Summer Nationals.
Track and field
A potentially powerful blend of experienced champions and young standouts will lead Team USA into the Pan Am Games next week.
Nine 2003 USA champions will join NCAA champions, 2000 Olympians and one internationally famous high schooler Allyson Felix in competition that begins Tuesday in Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Stadium.
Stanford will be well-represented by graduates like three-time NCAA 5,000-meter champion Lauren Fleshman, 2003 USA outdoor 1,500 champion Jason Lunn, plus Toby Stevenson in the pole vault and Erica Wheeler in the women's javelin.
Current seniors Grant Robison and Louis Luchini also will represent Stanford, Robison in the 1,500 and Luchini in the 5,000. Robison finished third in the metric mile at the USA Outdoor Championships at Stanford in June after winning the 2003 NCAA title. Luchini was runnerup in the 5,000 in the NCAA meet.
Cal grad Kristin Heaston, a strength coach who trains at Stanford, will go in the women's shot put after winning her first USA title in June.
Stanford will be represented on the men's and women's teams for the competition, which began Wednesday and continues through Aug. 18.
Competing for the USA women will be current Cardinal All-American Ogonna Nnamani, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, while 6-8 Gabe Gardner will represent the Stanford men. Gardner played at Stanford in 1998.
Stanford grads Jackie Frank, Ellen Estes, Margie Dingeldein and Brenda Villa just pooled their talents to help the USA women's National Team capture the gold medal at the World Championships. Now, however, something more important is ahead at the Pan Am Games, where the Americans need to win in order to qualify for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
The Americans' toughest competition should come from Canada.
The USA men's team, meanwhile, will feature current Stanford star Tony Azevedo plus grads Wolf Wigo (1996) and Layne Beaubien ('99).