Baseball at six straight wins, 10 of last 13

With six straight wins under its belt, Stanford baseball is sailing smoothly. The No. 25 Card (27-16, 9-9 Pac-10) has won 10 of its last 13, most recently when the Card scored 11 runs in consecutive games to defeat Pacific and UC-Davis. Now, the Card prepares to face Oregon (24-23, 5-13 Pac-10) in its final regular season out-of-state road trip.

Monday evening's 11-5 victory over host Pacific (15-28) saw an explosive performance at the plate from several Cardinal batters, namely sophomore centerfielder Tyler Gaffney, freshman first baseman Brian Ragira and freshman rightfield Austin Wilson, who each hit a home run. Stanford scored at least two runs in five of the first seven innings and rattled off 15 hits on the night.

Gaffney went 4-for-5 with four runs and a pair of RBIs, and Ragira tacked on four RBIs and his three-run homer in the first. Ragira in particular has been outstanding lately for the Card, and was named Pac-10 Player of the Week after hitting .571 with three runs and six RBIs last week. He is now batting .318 and leading the team with 38 RBIs, with several hits at clutch times lifting the Card ahead of Washington and San Jose State last week.

Ragira's homer on Monday put Stanford at an early 3-0 lead, but Pacific soon fought back in the second to go ahead 4-3.

An RBI single from sophomore shortstop Kenny Diekroeger in the third then pushed the Card back into a 5-4 lead and chased Tiger starter John Haberman (0-1) from the game. Gaffney had started off the inning with a homer, and freshman pinch hitter Danny Diekroeger's sac fly contributed to the three-run inning for the Card.

Gaffney and sophomore third baseman Stephen Piscotty added RBI singles in the fourth, and Stanford entered double digits in the sixth with a solo home run by Wilson to widen the lead to 10-5.

Sophomore righthander Sahil Bloom (1-0) earned the win for the Card, pitching a career-best five shutout innings with five strikeouts. He worked his way out of a jam in the fifth after loading the bases on a wild pitch by striking out the side to maintain an 8-5 Stanford lead. Bloom also left two runners stranded in the seventh with another inning-ending strikeout.

Tuesday's 11-4 win over visiting UC Davis (15-27) witnessed another dominant Cardinal performance, with the Diekroeger brothers responsible for most of the offensive prowess this time. Kenny and Danny drove in two runs each, with Danny's two-run single a part of a four-run third inning and Kenny driving in runs in the third and seventh innings.

Piscotty went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and Gaffney posted a multi-RBI game as well. Both players helped put the Card up on the board in the third and take a 3-0 lead off of Aggies starter Harry Stanwyck (1-3). Stanwyck was removed from the game after 3.1 innings, when a Piscotty RBI single stretched Stanford's lead to 6-1.

Reliever Ryan Lucas then gave up a two-run single to Danny Diekroeger and a single to freshman second baseman Lonnie Kauppila, giving the Card the 9-1 advantage in the third.

Freshman rightfield Austin Wilson tacked on three hits for Stanford, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He was one of four players with a multi-RBI game.

Sophomore righthander Dean McArdle (7-2) picked up his second straight win, giving up only one run on six hits in the first six innings. McArdle then allowed four hits in the seventh, including a two-run homer to Spencer Bran, but still turned in a solid day's work.

After extending its midweek record to 12-1 with these two wins, Stanford is armed to head to Oregon this weekend to conclude the travel-heavy portion of the schedule. The series begins Friday at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be televised.

The Ducks currently sit in seventh place in the conference after being swept by UCLA last weekend. The team has also dropped recent series to Cal, Washington and USC, but has beaten Arizona.

Oregon's pitching staff is its strong suit, with a 2.82 overall ERA. Lefthander Tyler Anderson (6-2, 1.73 ERA), the team's ace, is slated to throw on Friday. Righthander Alex Keudell and lefthander Aaron Jones will round out the weekend's starting rotation, and Stanford will counter with sophomore righthander Mark Appel, senior righthander Danny Sandbrink, and junior righthander Jordan Pries.

On the offensive end, however, the Ducks are struggling and batting just .236 as a club. Infielder Danny Pulfer maintains a .320 average with 11 doubles, but he is the only Duck whose average is consistently north of .300. Stanford, meanwhile, enters Friday's game hitting .364 as a team, averaging 7.7 runs per game and starting six players with averages over .300.

This activity at the plate has helped the Card tremendously in its current six-game win streak, and, when coupled with the .979 team fielding percentage and 3.00 overall ERA, should give Stanford a serious advantage over the Ducks this weekend.

The first pitch of Friday's series opener in Eugene is at 7 p.m.


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