Card Win 14-Inning Thriller Over Santa Clara

Tuesday night's game played between Stanford and Santa Clara at Buck Shaw Stadium had a little of everything. Big home runs, 15 total pitchers used, a ninth-inning rally by Stanford, a sprinkler delay at a pivotal point in the game, and a thrilling final inning capped by a Stanford win. The final result had Stanford in front by a 12-8 final as the Cardinal avoided losing consecutive games for the first time this season.

Greg Reynolds got the start for Stanford tonight and he would struggle early.  In the bottom of the first, Ryan Chiarelli reached on an infield single to start things off.  After Chiarelli stole second, Robert Perry flied to center to move the SCU leadoff batter over to third base.  Michael Thompson was up next and the Broncos third baseman came through with a sacrifice fly to left to put Santa Clara in front, 1-0.  Then Will Thompson stepped to the plate and promptly belted a home run over the fence in right extending the lead out to 2-0.

Reynolds fared much better in the second inning working a 1-2-3 frame.  He was removed from the game at this point as sophomore Matt Manship came into pitch to start the third.  With one out in that third inning, a Santa Clara runner reached base safely on a John Mayberry, Jr. fielding error, however Manship quickly retired the side when he rolled up a double play ground ball to the next batter.

Stanford has baserunners in the first three innings against SCU starter John Redmond, but could not get the clutch hit to put themselves on the scoreboard.  Finally in the top of the fourth, with the Broncos still in front 2-0, Danny Putnam doubled to lead off.  After Mayberry struck out, Putnam moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Donny Lucy bounced out.

Manship surrendered a run in the bottom of the fourth, but was not hit hard at all.  A hit batsman with one out followed by a wild pitch put a runner in scoring position.  Then with two outs, Michael Lange rolled a ball in-between first and second for an RBI single.  Manship set down the next batter and was then taken out of the game.  For Manship, it was the first earned run he had surrendered since February 29th (11 2/3 innings).  But again, another very encouraging outing from the sophomore right hander.

The Cardinal broke through in the top of the fifth inning for four runs to take a 5-3 lead.  Jim Rapoport got things started with a single.  After a walk to Sam Fuld and a passed ball, Rapoport scored when relief pitcher Andrew Slorp uncorked a wild pitch.  Brian Hall would then walk again putting two runners on.   That was followed by Jed Lowrie smoking a double to deep center field plating two and making the score 4-3 Stanford.  But the Cardinal weren't done as after Putnam singled, Lowrie came home on a ground out off the bat of Mayberry, Jr.

Freshman Jeff Stimpson started the fifth inning for the Cardinal and would go on to have the worst outing of his young career.  Stimpson had allowed only two earned runs in 20 2/3 innings this season, but he would be tagged for four tallies in just 1/3 of an inning tonight.  With one out, a hit by a pitch and single put two runners on.  Then Will Thompson crushed his second homer of the game - a blast to straight-away center field and Santa Clara was back in front, 6-5.  Immediately following the Thompson homer, Nic Crosta connected on a home run and all of sudden it was a 7-5 contest.  Stimpson was promptly removed from the game at this point in favor of Kodiak Quick who would set down the next two batters easily to end the inning.

Stanford went down quietly in the sixth, but inched a run closer in the seventh when Lowrie ripped a solo home run to left center field.  For Lowrie, it was his team-leading 13th long ball of the season.

Meanwhile, Quick looked dominant early on tonight as after getting out of the fifth, he put up a zero in the bottom of the sixth recording two strike outs in the process.  However in the seventh, with Santa Clara ahead 7-6, Quick allowed a single and then hit a batter to put two runners on.  Coach Marquess elected to go with closer David O'Hagan at this juncture and once again the senior right hander came through in the clutch.  After a fly out and a stolen base, O'Hagan issued an intentional walk to load the bases.  Jason Matteucci was up next and he would roll a ball past O'Hagan and over to Lowrie at second base.  Lowrie made a fantastic play on the slow-hit ground ball as he gloved it, moved over to tag second, and then made an all-arm throw to first to just nab Matteucci for the huge double play.  That kept the score at 7-6.

In the eighth, Chris Minaker singled to lead off, but was stranded at first when the next three batters were all retired by SCU closer Anthony Rea (2.02 ERA, 11 Saves).  O'Hagan worked a perfect 1-2-3 eighth inning notching two strike outs to set the stage for a dramatic top of the ninth.  The inning started with a classic Lowrie vs. Rea matchup.  Lowrie took an extremely close pitch on 1-2, but it was ruled just outside by the plate umpire.  He then went on to foul off two very difficult 2-2 pitches before lacing a double down the right field line.  That at-bat right there, maybe more than anything else, tells you how far Jed Lowrie has come as the sophomore second baseman may just be the top hitter in college baseball right now.

Putnam was up next and the junior left fielder also had a magnificent at-bat as he grounded out to first base moving Lowrie over to third.  Then with Mayberry, Jr. at the plate, Rea uncorked a wild pitch to the backstop allowing Lowrie to race home with the tying run. 

Blake Holler relieved O'Hagan to start the ninth as Coach Marquess did not want to extend his ace reliever with an important Pac-10 series on the horizon.  And the move could not have gone any better.  Holler threw the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth innings tonight not allowing a run or a hit.  He was constantly getting out ahead of batters as SCU could do absolutely nothing against the freshman southpaw.  The only baserunner during those four frames was a leadoff walk in the 11th, but Holler easily set down the next three batters to get out of the jam. 

Meanwhile, Stanford couldn't do anything against Rea in the 10th, 11th, or 12th.  SCU head coach Mark O'Brien was clearly putting all his eggs in one basket tonight in using Rea as the Bronco closer ending up throwing 5 1/3 innings yielding just a run on four hits.  He struck out six, but had to throw 85 pitches and you would have to think his availability for their upcoming WCC series this weekend will be limited.  Still, Rea did his job and we went to the 13th still tied at 7-7.

In that 13th facing new pitcher Patrick McBride, Fuld started things off with a bunt.  It was just to the right side of the mound as McBride raced over, had the ball glance off his glove, picked it up, and then underhanded it to first.  The only problem was that his underhand flip sailed well over the head of the first baseman and down the right field line.  And with Fuld's good speed, he was able to get all the way into third base. 

Hall brought home the Cardinal center fielder with a line drive, sacrifice fly to right to make the score 8-7, Stanford.

Matt Leva came on for Holler to start the bottom of the 13th.  Leva surrendered a leadoff single to Nathan Faulkner, but would retire the next batter on a fly out to left.  Then with Faulkner running, Lange blooped a single into right field moving Faulkner over to third.  Coach Marquess had seen enough of Leva as he turned the ball over to senior Drew Ehrlich.  Ehrlich was making his first appearance in over a month (March 26th vs. Cal Poly).

The 6'5" right hander nearly rung up catcher David Mandley with a 0-and-2 fastball, but the pitch was ruled just outside by plate umpire Mark Beller.  Still alive, Mandley then ripped a line drive into left field that was caught by Putnam, but plenty deep enough to score the tying run.  Ehrlich then came back to strike out Chiarelli looking to end the inning.

So to the 14th inning we went.  Still facing McBride, Mayberry, Jr. was clipped by an inside pitch to start the inning off.  Lucy was up next and after bunting two pitches foul, he singled into left field to put runners at first and second.  Pinch-hitter Adam Sorgi followed and Coach Marquess had the bunt on for his freshman infielder only to see Sorgi foul off the first pitch.  Then in a surprising move, the bunt sign was taken off and Sorgi promptly lined a single into right to load the bases.

As Chris Minaker strode to the plate, Coach O'Brien made a call to the bullpen bringing in freshman Bryan Fleming.  But just as Fleming started his warm-up pitches, the sprinkler system on the infield went off drenching the area around second base and part of the pitchers mound.  Honestly, this game had it all.  Finally the sprinklers were turned off after an eight-minute delay, so we resumed action with the bases loaded and no outs.  Fleming though couldn't find the strike zone with Minaker at the plate issuing a four-pitch walk to force home a run and give Stanford back the lead at 9-8.

However, Stanford wasn't through.  Rapoport was up next and the freshman right fielder lined a single into left field scoring two more.  Then after Fuld laid down a sacrifice bunt, Hall scored another run with a fly out to right.  When the dust had settled, Stanford was ahead by a 12-8 tally.

Ehrlich came back out in the bottom of the 14th and allowed a leadoff double and a two-out walk, but he got pinch-hitter Scott Shapiro to ground out to shortstop to end the game and give Stanford the victory.

Game Notes:
* The 14 innings played made this the longest game of the season for Stanford (previous high was 13 innings on March 6th at USC, an 8-7 Cardinal victory).  The game ended at 11:29 local time.  When you take out the eight-minute sprinkler delay, the final time of game was 5 hours and 18 minutes.  That's just one minute shy of the 5:19 gametime in Stanford's 18-inning win at Arizona back in April, 2002.

* At the plate tonight, Stanford was led by Lowrie (4-for-8, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI) and Putnam (4-for-6, 2B).

* Other multi-hit games came from Lucy (2-for-7, 2B, RBI) and Rapoport (2-for-7, 2 RBI).

* Lucy (14 games) and Putnam (11 games) extended hitting streaks.

* Holler had the most impressive performance of any Cardinal hurler tonight.  In four innings, he allowed no runs on no hits with just one walk and five K's.

* Ehrlich gets his first win of the season with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to close out the game.

* Stanford used eight pitchers in this ballgame while Santa Clara used seven.

* Stanford is now 3-0 versus Santa Clara this season with one game still remaining (May 11th at Stanford).

* This was Stanford's third win of the season when they've been trailing entering the ninth inning.  The other games were February 15th versus Kansas (10-6 win on Brian Hall's walkoff grand slam) and March 6th versus USC (Stanford scored four in the ninth to tie it and then won the game in the 13th).

* Stanford has yet to lose consecutive games this season.

Stan. 0 0 0  1 4 0  1 0 1  0 0 0  1 4 - 12  16   1
SCU   2 0 0  1 4 0  0 0 0  0 0 0  1 0 -  8  14   1

WP: Drew Ehrlich (1-0)
LP: Patrick McBride (0-2)

HR: Stanford - Jed Lowrie (13) ; Santa Clara - Will Thompson 2 (9, 10), Nic Crosta (9)

Records: #2 Stanford (32-6), Santa Clara (19-24)

* The Cardinal will return to action this weekend for a three-game series with the Washington State Cougars at Sunken Diamond.  First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:00pm while Saturday's and Sunday's games will both get underway at 1:00pm.

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