Stanford Survives 13-Inning Thriller

Saturday was unquestionably the game of the year thus far for the 2004 Stanford Cardinal baseball team. Trailing 7-3 heading into the ninth, the Cardinal rallied for four runs to tie the game before scoring a single run in the top of the 13th to win, 8-7. Stanford has now taken the first two games of this non-conference series with the Trojans and will look for the sweep tomorrow afternoon.

Stanford jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with three scores in the top of the second off SC ace Ian Kennedy. Danny Putnam led off with a home run to right field – his third bomb of the season. John Mayberry, Jr. followed with a clean single and then Jim Rapoport rolled a ball out to short. With his great speed he was able to put a lot of pressure on the play and SC shortstop Blake Sharpe fired the ball past the first baseman. It was scored an infield hit while both runners moved up an extra 90 feet on the error.

Brian Hall then drove home Mayberry, Jr. with a ground out which was followed by a clutch two-out, RBI single from Chris Minaker to make it a 3-0 game.

Stanford starter Jeff Gilmore breezed through the bottom of the first 1-2-3, but ran into some trouble in the second. The Trojans struck for two runs on a big triple from center fielder Daniel Perales to deep center. Gilmore did a nice job to stop the bleeding right there and then worked a perfect 1-2-3 third inning.

In fact, after Gilmore retired the first two batters of the fourth (with Stanford still leading 3-2), he had retired seven in a row. But then the floodgates opened. Baron Frost doubled with two outs in the fourth and moved to third on a Donny Lucy throwing error on an attempted pickoff. Perales followed with a soft grounder to Mayberry, Jr. at first and beat the throw by Mayberry to Gilmore just barely for an infield RBI hit. The Trojans weren’t done though as back-to-back singles by Cyle Hankerd and Hector Estrella produced another run for a 4-3 USC lead.

Stanford had opportunities to score off Kennedy in the middle innings, but could not push across any runs. They loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but Rapoport popped out. In the fourth, Stanford got hits from Lucy (a single) and Hall (a double), but couldn’t score. In that inning, Lucy was thrown out attempting to steal – one of four caught stealings on the day for the Cardinal.

Kennedy fired a 1-2-3 fifth inning and then USC went back to work on Gilmore. Leading 4-3, Jon Brewster started things off with a single. Joey Metropoulos then grounded a ball to third. Stanford probably wasn’t going to turn the double play, but when Jonny Ash airmailed the throw into right field, everyone was safe. Cleanup hitter Jeff Clement followed with the big hit – an RBI double down the right field which chased Gilmore from the game.

Coach Marquess elected to bring in freshman Jeff Stimpson which was just the second outing of his young career. Stimpson came in and did a pretty good job in that fifth inning as he quickly recorded two outs on ground outs (one of which produced a run). Perales continued his big day though with an RBI single to push USC’s lead out to 7-4. But Stimpson struck out Hankerd to end the inning and that would be all the Trojans would get on this Saturday afternoon.

Stanford mounted a rally in the seventh inning off reliever Bret Butler as they put runners on first and second with one out. However, Butler came back to strike out Ash and Jed Lowrie to end the inning. In the eighth, with runners on first and second and one out, Lucy grounded a ball to second base. Second baseman Hector Estrella flipped to second for the force out, but the relay throw from shortstop Blake Sharpe sailed past the first baseman. The ball though instead of going into the dugout which would have scored Mayberry, Jr. (who began the play at second base), bounced off the concrete wall next to the dugout and right back to the first baseman Metropoulos. Metropoulos gathered the ball and threw home to nail Mayberry, Jr. at the plate. It appeared Mayberry was clearly safe on the play, but the breaks just weren’t going Stanford’s way this afternoon.

But then came the ninth. Still down 7-3, Stanford mounted a furious rally to tie the game. Hall led off with a single to right and then he stole second. Pinch-hitter Chris Carter delivered a big hit next with a single up the middle to score Hall. After Sam Fuld flied out, Ash unloaded a home run well over the fence in right field to make it a 7-6 USC lead. This was no cheap home run either as it cleared the fence by a good margin and bounced about halfway up the parking structure behind the right field wall.

Stanford wasn’t done though as Lowrie ripped a double into left center field to put the tying run at second base. Putnam followed with a ground ball to the right side that Metropoulos made a nice play on, but his throw to the covering pitcher pulled him off the bag. The play was ruled an infield single and Stanford had runners on the corners with still just one out.

Mayberry, Jr. then came through with the game-tying hit when he lined a single into right field to bring home Lowrie. However, Stanford couldn’t get the go-ahead run home when pinch-hitter Ryan Seawell and Lucy both grounded into fielder’s choices to end the inning.

Maybe lost in the comeback today was the excellent relief work put forth by Stimpson. The freshman right hander set down USC 1-2-3 in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings needing just 29 pitches to accomplish the feat. He allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, which prompted Coach Marquess to call David O'Hagan into the game.

O’Hagan didn’t make things very easy on himself today, but in every inning he was able to get out the jams. In the ninth, SC had runners on first and second with just one out, but O’Hagan struck out the #3 hitter Metropoulos and induced the #4 man Clement to pop out to second to end the inning.

Stanford came very close to losing the game in the bottom of the tenth when SC again put runners on first and second with one out (batters reached on an error and a walk). Pinch-hitter Bobby Paschal then lifted a soft fly ball into shallow right center field. The runner at second, Darin Vieira, took off immediately so he was going to score the winning run had the ball dropped. However, Brian Hall came charging in and made a spectacular diving catch to save the game for Stanford. Hall raced into the infield and flipped the ball to O’Hagan who was standing on second base for the inning-ending double play.

Stanford went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 11th and then USC again threatened to win against O’Hagan. They had runners on first and second with two outs, but O’Hagan struck out the powerful Clement on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

After Stanford went scoreless in the top of the 12th, the Trojans looked poised to finally win the game in the bottom half of the frame. Sharpe led things off with a ringing double over Hall’s head in right. He was sacrificed to third with a bunt and then O’Hagan intentionally walked the next batter to put runners on the corners. Kyle Degener was the next hitter and on a 1-2 pitch, SC Head Coach Mike Gillespie put on the suicide squeeze, but Degener bunted the ball foul for strike three. Any bunt in play there on the ground would have won the game for the Trojans. O’Hagan retired the next batter on a ground out to end the inning.

Finally in the top of the 13th, Stanford was able to score a run to take the lead. With two outs and nobody on, Ash ripped a single into left center field. Then on a 3-2 pitch with Ash running, Lowrie lined a single right back up the middle to put runners on first and third. Putnam kept the two-out rally going with a ground ball single through the hole on the right side and Stanford finally had the lead.

Matt Manship relieved O’Hagan to start the bottom of the 13th and the sophomore right hander easily dispatched of the Trojans 1-2-3 to end the game.

Game Notes:
* The comeback was great, but a huge key in this game for Stanford was the work of their bullpen. Stimpson (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO), O’Hagan (4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 SO), and Manship (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO) combined to fire nine shutout innings to end the game. O’Hagan was credited with the victory and Manship the save.

* Putnam led the offense today with a 3-for-5 effort. He homered, drove home two, and had the game-winning hit in the 13th.

* Other multi-hit games came from Lowrie (3-for-7, 2B), Fuld (2-for-7, 2B), Ash (2-for-7, HR, 2 RBI), Mayberry, Jr. (2-for-6, RBI), and Hall (2-for-5, 2B, RBI, SB).

* Ash extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games with the ninth inning home run. The home run, which was the third of his career (and the first not in the CWS), came on an 0-2 pitch.

* Fuld’s seventh inning single was the 305th hit of his career. That ties him with A.J. Hinch (1993-96) for third all-time at Stanford. Paul Carey (1987-90) is second at 331 while John Gall (1997-2000) is first at 368.

* Gilmore was tagged for seven runs (five earned) in four-plus innings of work. He did not walk anyone while he struck out two.

* Stanford has now scored at least six runs in 13 consecutive games.

* Stanford has won six straight games overall, seven consecutive road games, and seven straight over USC dating back to last season. They’ve also now won all six of their series’ this year – ten in a row going back to last season.

Stanford  0 3 0  0 0 0  0 0 4  0 0 0  1  -  8  18  3
USC       0 2 0  2 3 0  0 0 0  0 0 0  0  -  7  11  1

WP: David O’Hagan (2-0)
LP: Clayton Wentworth (0-2)
S: Matt Manship (1)

HR: Stanford – Jonny Ash (1), Danny Putnam (3)

Records: #1 Stanford (15-2), USC (4-9)

* The Cardinal will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 1:00pm. Blake Holler (2-0, 1.89) is scheduled to start on mound for Stanford while USC will likely go with lefty Josh Rummonds (1-1, 2.95).

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