Offense Quieted In Loss To Hornets

Baseball can be a humbling game. A day after pounding out 15 runs and 21 hits, the Stanford Cardinal could only muster one score on four hits in their 2-1 loss to Sacramento State on Saturday afternoon in the state capital. With the loss, Stanford's seven-game winning streak was snapped. However, a bright spot was certainly Jeff Gilmore and David O'Hagan combining on a two-hitter. Read on for a complete recap.

The Cardinal actually had the early 1-0 lead in today's ballgame.  In the top of the second, John Mayberry, Jr. singled with one out.  With Donny Lucy at the plate, Mayberry, Jr. stole second and then advanced to third when the throw bounced away.  Lucy scored the Stanford first baseman with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Stanford starter Jeff Gilmore breezed through the first two innings today setting down all six batters he faced.  In the bottom of the third, Bret LeVier led off by reaching on a fielding error by shortstop Chris Minaker.  Gilmore then walked the next batter, Jim Strombach, to put two runners on.  After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over into scoring position, leadoff hitter Jack Arroyo brought home a run with a ground out to shortstop.

The Cardinal threatened against Sac State starter Ethan Katz in each of the middle innings today.  In the fourth, Danny Putnam singled with two outs which was followed by a walk to Mayberry, Jr.  But Lucy would strike out to end the threat.  In the fifth, Minaker drew a one-out walk while Fuld reached on a two-out walk.  However, Brian Hall lined out to left ending that rally.  Then in the sixth, Lowrie got things started with a single.  After Putnam flied out, the Stanford second baseman moved to second on a wild pitch.  Mayberry, Jr. would then be intentionally walked to put two runners on.  When Lucy struck out for the second out of the inning, both Lowrie and Mayberry moved up on stolen bases.  But DH Chris Carter could not deliver the clutch hit as he popped out to shortstop to keep the score at 1-1.

Meanwhile, Gilmore was completely dominating the Sac State hitters.  The sophomore right hander worked 1-2-3 fourth and fifth frames throwing just 13 pitches in the process.  He carried a no-hitter into the sixth, but it would be a walk that would be his downfall.  Gilmore issued a leadoff free pass to the #9 hitter in the Hornets lineup, Ronnie Machado, Jr., which ignited a rally.  After a successful sacrifice bunt moved Machado to second, Craig Johnson grounded a ball through the hole on the right side for an RBI single to put the Hornets in front, 2-1.  That was the first hit of the game for Sacramento State.  Gilmore would quickly retire the next two batters of the inning to retire the side.

Stanford went down quickly in the top of the seventh before Gilmore surrendered a leadoff double in the bottom half of the inning.  That would end his afternoon as closer David O'Hagan was summoned into pitch.  O'Hagan hit the first batter he faced with a pitch, but a sac bunt, strike out, and a ground out ended the inning.

The Cardinal again went down 1-2-3 in the eighth, however they continued to hit the ball hard against Katz.  This was just one of those days where nothing could go right for the Stanford hitters as when they did hit balls on the nose, a Sac State defender was always right there.

O'Hagan quickly disposed of the Hornets 1-2-3 in the eighth giving Stanford one final chance.  With one out in the ninth, Lucy ripped a single into right.  After Carter flied out to deep center, Lucy successfully stole second to put himself into scoring position.  But Katz would come back to strike out Minaker looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Game Notes:
* A day after scoring 15 runs on 21 hits, Stanford could only muster one run on four hits this afternoon.

* Sac State held Katz, their ace pitcher, back one day to give themselves a better chance of taking a game in this series.  It obviously worked as Katz went the distance throwing 143 pitches in the process.

* Clearly a bright spot today was the pitching performance from Gilmore.  Although he did suffer the loss, Gilmore allowed only two hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings.  He walked two and struck out three and threw only 70 pitches.

* O'Hagan also threw well with two shutout, no-hit innings.  He struck out three.

* The two hits allowed were a season-low for the Stanford pitching staff this season.

* Hall's 21-game hitting streak came to an end with his 0-for-4 game.  However, like many Stanford hitters today, Hall did hit some balls hard.

* Fuld's 12-game hitting streak also came to and end (0-for-3).  Lucy (13 games, 1-for-3, RBI) and Putnam (10 games, 1-for-4) did extend hitting streaks.

* Stanford (7-2) is now one game ahead of Washington (7-4) in the Pac-10 after the Huskies have taken the first two games of their series from Arizona.  UCLA (6-5) and USC (6-5) are the only other teams currently above .500 in Pac-10 play.

* You can't say Stanford is struggling since this was only one loss, but this is strikingly similar to past season's late April swoons.  Last season, the Cardinal suffered a cold streak in late April which included a 2-0 home loss to Santa Clara when they recorded only two hits.  In 2002, Stanford dropped consecutive Pac-10 series' to close out April (and lost 12-0 to San Jose State the first day of May).  In 2001, the Cardinal also dropped consecutive Pac-10 series' at the end of April while also falling 12-3 to Sacramento State in a midweek game.  We'll see if Stanford bounces back quickly from this loss or if another late-April swoon is upon us.

Stanford          0 1 0  0 0 0  0 0 0   -   1   4   1
Sacramento State  0 0 1  0 0 1  0 0 x   -   2   2   1

WP: Ethan Katz (7-4)
LP: Jeff Gilmore (6-2)

Records: #2 Stanford (31-6), Sacramento State (23-27)

* The Cardinal will next be in action on Tuesday night for a single non-conference game at Santa Clara.  First pitch in scheduled for 6:00pm.  Next weekend, Stanford returns to Sunken Diamond for a three-game series versus Washington State.

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