Things didn't look good for the Cardinal today as they trailed 4-2 heading to the ninth inning. But a four-run inning turned the game around and gave Stanford a huge 6-4 victory. The win was the Cardinal's 13th consecutive on the road, their sixth in a row overall, and moved Stanford's Pac-10 record to 15-5. That's 2 1/2 games ahead of Arizona State (10-5) and three games in front of Arizona (11-7) who are both off this weekend.
The Cardinal scored first into today's game with a single run in the top of the first inning, but it easily could have been more. Back-to-back singles by Sam Fuld and Jonny Ash to start the game put runners on first and second. Carlos Quentin moved them over with a groundout and then Ryan Garko singled to right to score Fuld and move Ash to third. Danny Putnam then walked to load the bases for Jed Lowrie. But Lowrie grounded into a 4-3 double play to end the inning.
Mark Romanczuk started today's contest for Stanford and immediately ran into some trouble. With one out, David Nicholson singled and then Brian Horwitz hit a ground ball up the middle. The second baseman Lowrie ranged to his right but mishandled the ball for an error. Certainly one out would have been recorded, possibly two. The next hitter was likely first-round pick Conor Jackson and the Cal third baseman crushed a deep home run to left field to put the Bears in front, 3-1.
Cal starter Brian Montalbo settled down after the rocky first inning as he allowed just one hit over the next five innings. The Cardinal had a few chances to score as in the third inning, Ash singled with one out and Garko was hit by a pitch with two outs, but the runners were stranded when Putnam grounded out. In the fourth, Chris Carter walked with one out, but John Mayberry, Jr. grounded into an inning-ending double play. In the fifth, Ash walked with two outs, and in the sixth, Putnam walked with one out, but Stanford could do nothing with either baserunner.
Meanwhile, Romanczuk also settled down after a rough first inning. The Bears recorded only three hits (all singles) over the next six innings against the freshman lefty. Cal's best chance to score in the middle innings came in the bottom of the sixth when they put runners on first and second with no outs. But a double play and a fly out ended the threat and kept the score at 3-1.
Finally Stanford broke through against Montalbo in the seventh. Chris Carter started things off with a single and then pinch-hitter Donny Lucy singled to put runners at the corners. Tobin Swope was up next and the senior shortstop drove home Carter with a sacrifice fly to right. Lucy would eventually be stranded at third base when Ash flied out to left to end the inning.
After Romanczuk breezed through the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinal went back to work in the eighth in an attempt to tie the game up. Stanford had the heart of their order up, but Quentin, Garko, and Putnam went down 1-2-3. The especially painful thing was they all were retired on 2-and-0 pitches from Montalbo. Nevertheless, the game remained in Cal's favor by a 3-2 score.
In the bottom of the eighth, Romanczuk set down the first hitter but then gave up a triple to Conor Jackson. That ended Romanczuk's afternoon as Ryan McCally was brought into pitch. After intentionally walking the next batter, McCally balked home Jackson to make the score 4-2. Ryan got out of the inning without further damage, but the Bears now had a two run lead.
Montalbo went back out in the ninth, but didn't last long. Jed Lowrie, who was having a rough game (0-for-3, two double plays, and a costly error), came through in a big way with a double down the right field line. Carter followed Lowrie's hit with a double of his own to cut the lead to 4-3. Montalbo was then pulled in favor of Matt Brown who lost the game for the Bears in the 9th inning yesterday. Donny Lucy was the next hitter and Coach Marquess allowed Lucy to hit instead of sacrificing the runner over to third. Lucy struck out for the first out of the inning. Brian Hall, who was pinch-running for Carter, then made a huge play as he stole third easily to put him only 90 feet away from scoring. It was up then to Tobin Swope, but Brown walked Swope on a close 3-and-2 pitch to put runners on the corners. Up next was Sam Fuld and on the first pitch, Brown uncorked a wild pitch to score Hall which tied the game at 4-4. Brown was then lifted as Coach David Esquer brought in a lefty, Travis Talbott, to face the lefty Fuld. Fuld though singled sharply into left center field to score Swope from second to give the Cardinal the lead. Stanford wasn't done though as Ash was hit a pitch and then Quentin singled to left to score Fuld with the Cardinal's sixth run of the game.
Matt Manship came on in the ninth and easily retired the first two batters. But then a double and a single brought the winning run to the plate in the person of #3 hitter Brian Horwitz. Manship though calmly struck out Horwitz on three pitches to seal the victory for the Cardinal.
- This was Stanford's sixth consecutive win. Their longest winning streak of the year is seven games.
- Sam Fuld (2-for-5, RBI), Jonny Ash (2-for-3), and Chris Carter (2-for-3, 2B, RBI) all had multi-hit games for the Cardinal. Carter is now 5-for-11 since a 2-for-23 start this season.
- Mark Romanczuk got a no-decision to keep his perfect record (9-0) intact. He went 7 2/3 innings today yielding four runs (three earned) on six hits. He walked three and struck out three.
- Matt Manship picked up his second save of the series and his seventh of the season.
- Stanford has now won nine straight games over the Bears since March of last year.
- This loss for Cal guaranteed them a losing record in the Pac-10 which ends any hope of them making the NCAA Tournament. Tomorrow is their final Pac-10 game of the year.
Stanford 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 - 6
California 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 4 8 1
WP: Ryan McCally (4-2)
LP: Matt Brown (3-8)
S: Matt Manship (7)
HR: California - Conor Jackson (9)
Records: #7 Stanford (34-14, 15-5), California (27-26, 10-13)
* The Cardinal will go for the season-sweep of the Bears tomorrow afternoon at 1:00pm. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher.