Card Falter Late In Heartbreaking Loss

The Cardinal won a share of the Pac-10 title today when Washington beat Arizona State, but could not take care of business at home against the Bruins. Stanford squandered a ninth inning lead and had numerous opportunities to win the game in extras before falling 9-5 to UCLA in 12 innings. The loss snapped the Cardinal's nine-game winning streak. Read on for the story of the one that slipped away.

UCLA 9, Stanford 5

The Cardinal entered today needing a win and an ASU loss to clinch the Pac-10 Title outright . However, while Washington knocked off the Sun Devils, the Cardinal saw a very well-played baseball game turn ugly in the final four innings and fell to the Bruins in the middle game of a three-game series.

It was a battle of lefties as Stanford's Mark Romanczuk faced UCLA's Wes Whisler. Both pitched shutout innings in the first and second, but Whisler helped his own cause in the third. After a leadoff double and infield single, the Bruins had two on with no out. However, Romanczuk got two popouts without a run scoring, and it looked like he would get out of the third with no damage done. But two pitches later. Wes Whisler, doubling as the DH, ripped a double to left-center, scoring two runs and giving the Bruins the early 2-0 advantage.

Immediately, Stanford responded. With two outs, Sam Fuld drove home John Mayberry, Jr from first base with a triple, and Brian Hall followed with a single up the middle, scoring Fuld. After three, the score was knotted at 2 apiece.

The fourth inning saw no scoring but one huge play. Ryan Garko doubled to right field to lead off the inning. With Putnam at the plate, a ball glanced off the glove of the catcher, with Garko trying to advance to 3B. He was thrown out and in the process, seemed to hurt either a finger or his left hand. Garko would have to leave the game and John Hester came in to catch and hit in the #4 hole.

The Bruins got to Romanczuk one final time in the fifth. A leadoff single by Brandon Averill and a walk to Ryan McCarthy put runners at first and seocnd with no outs. After a sac bunt, Warren Trott's RBI groundout gave UCLA a 3-2 lead, which lasted about ten minutes. Fuld drove home another run in the bottom of the fifth with a single, knocking home Mayberry again, who reached on an error. The score remained tied at 3 each going to the eighth, with both pitchers on the hill.

Whisler threw just 72 pitches through seven, but started the 8th with four consecutive out of the strike zone to Fuld. Hall worked the count to 3-1, then ripped a ball to right center, scoring Fuld from first and giving the Card the lead. Two pitches later, Quentin drilled a ball through the drawn-in infield, scoring Hall and giving Stanford a 5-3 lead, going to the ninth.

Mark Romanczuk went out for the ninth and got the first out on a nice play by Carlos Quentin. However, he gave up a single to Christian Lewis. It knocked Romanczuk out, as he turned the game over to Matt Manship for the final two outs. Manship entered the game second in the conference with seven saves, but today would not be his eighth. On the first pitch Averill singled to right. Pinch runner Adam Simon tried to take third, and did successfully when the throw was late from Quentin. Alertly, Averll took second on the throw, putting the tying run at second with just one out. The key play of the game proved too difficult to overcome, as a Manship wild pitch and a high-hopper single from Hector Ambriz tied the game at five each. Manship got out of the ninth courtesy of a nice play by Brian Hall in left, keeping the game tied at five.

Wes Whisler returned for the ninth, and while he allowed a two out walk to Mayberry, Junior was stranded at second as Swope flied to right, and the game was sent to extra frames. Final line on Romanczuk: 8.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K, and on Whisler, 9.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K. Both pitchers received no decisions.

Manship cruised in the 10th, throwing a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of the 10th, the Cardinal had a golden chance to win. A leadoff walk issued by Brian Beck to Fuld, followed by a single to left by Hall seemingly put runners at first and second. However, Fuld inexplicably tried to take third on the play, and was thrown out by 5 feet, with Hall reaching second. With the winning run at 2B and one out, Quentin was walked intentionally to get to Hester. With runners at first and second, Beck walked pinch-hitter Chris Carter on four pitches and the winning run stood just 90 feet away. Gary Adams brought in reliever Chris Cordeiro to face Jonny Ash. Ash took two straight balls, but then swung at 2-0, grounding it up the middle. Preston Griffin at second fielded the ball near the 2B bag but then dropped it. However, he recovered in time to step on second, and throw to first for the 4-3 double play, and the Bruins celebrated their escape from defeat.

As Manship threw another perfect inning in the 11th, the Cardinal would again get the winning run to second base, as Donny Lucy reached on an error and stole 2B. But Swope and Fuld flied out to end the threat, and once again, UCLA escaped danger.

Finally, in the 12th, the Bruins blew it open. After a leadoff error by Swope on a line drive, Trott's bunt back to Manship would force a runner and give the Cardinal an out with a runner at 1st. Facing Whisler, Manship bounced a ball in the dirt, moving the runner to 2B and forcing him to walk Whisler intentionally. With runners at first and second, Billy Susdorf hit a high chopper to Ash. He threw to second, but Jed Lowrie dropped the throw, failing to record an out. Now, with the bases loaded, Manship faced Brett McMillan, and McMillan hit a homer to right- a grandslam. UCLA led it 9-5 and finished it off with a 1-2-3 12th inning against the Cardinal.

UCLA      0 0 2  0 1 0  0 0 2  0 0 4  -  9  11   2
Stanford  0 0 2  0 1 0  0 2 0  0 0 0  -  5   9   2

WP: Chris Cordeiro (1-2)
LP: Matt Manship (2-4)

HR: Brett McMillan (7th, Grand Slam in the 12th)

Records: UCLA (26-29, 9-11), Stanford (37-15, 17-6)

-Stanford won at least a share of the Pac-10 title with ASU's 5-1 loss to Washington.
-The loss ends Stanford's season high nine-game win streak.
-Ryan Garko left the game in the fifth with an injury to his left hand. No word yet on his status.
-The Cardinal used every position player today, including all three catchers.
-Mark Romanczuk failed to get his 10th win after Manship's blown save. To Manship's defense, the Bruins just found the holes in the 9th with their singles. The four runs Manship allowed in the 12th were all unearned.
-The Cardinal had the winning run in scoring position in the 9th,10th, and 11th and failed to score. They stranded five on base in those innings.
-UCLA now is 12-11 against Top 25 teams in 2003.
-Sam Fuld extended his hitting streak to ten games while Jed Lowrie had his hit streak snapped at nine.
-Tomorrow both starters are TBA, but Stanford will likely go with Tim Cunningham. Start time is 1:00 PM for the rubber game and final conference game of the season.

Chad Goldberg is the voice of Stanford Baseball on KZSU, 90.1 FM.

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