Strong Pitching Leads Stanford To Victory

Seven Stanford pitchers combined on a four-hitter as the Cardinal defeated the Santa Clara Broncos by a 3-1 score on Tuesday night at Sunken Diamond. The highlight of the game was certainly the effort put forth by senior closer David O'Hagan as the All-American candidate continues to dazzle. Meanwhile, a different Cardinal pitcher made his collegiate debut this evening while the Stanford offense scored just enough runs to post the team's 15th consecutive home victory.

The Stanford offense did very little tonight, however the bottom of the first inning was full of fireworks.  Sam Fuld got things started with a single up the middle.  After a Jim Rapoport ground out moved Fuld to second, Jed Lowrie was hit by a pitch to put two runners on.  Up next was Danny Putnam and the red-hot left fielder belted a double to the left center gap plating both Fuld and Lowrie for a 2-0 Stanford lead.  Then Donny Lucy stepped up and crushed a double down the left field line to score Putnam extending the lead out to 3-0.

That would be all Stanford would get tonight, however.  Over the final seven innings at the plate, the Cardinal mustered only a pair of singles while leaving four runners on the base paths. 

The story of the night was certainly Stanford's pitching.  Blake Holler got the starting nod and the freshman lefty worked a quick 1-2-3 first inning.  He struck out the final two batters he faced and was removed from the game to start the second in favor of Jeff Stimpson.

Stimpson had no problem working through the second and third innings.  He did not allow a hit while the only baserunner was a hit by pitch with two outs in the third to Michael Lange.  A very solid outing for Stimpson which is a good sign after he took the loss in the tenth inning last Friday up in Seattle.

Up next was Kodiak Quick and the sophomore right hander continued to deal.  Quick fired two no-hit innings as well.  He dominated at times striking out three compared to just one walk.  Quick lowered his team-low ERA to 1.59 (17 IP/3 ER).

Mark Jecmen threw the sixth inning tonight and the 6'8" right hander struck out the side in his brief appearance.  The Broncos did break up the no-hitter Stanford was working on in that sixth inning against Jecmen when Jason Matteucci bounced a single up the middle with two outs.  Still, Jecmen rebounded to strike out the dangerous Nic Crosta to retire the side.

The seventh inning saw the collegiate debut of sophomore Pete Duda.  Duda had gone almost two full years at Stanford without pitching in a game, but the fireballing right hander would come through with a 1-2-3 frame tonight.  The first batter Duda faced was Michael Thompson and the SCU clean-up hitter grounded a ball up the middle.  Shortstop Chris Minaker made a fabulous play ranging well over to his left and his throw to first just beat Thompson who was sprinting down the line.  Defensive play of the night, for sure.

Will Thompson was up next and the Bronco first baseman flied out to the warning track in left.  Then Dustin Realini grounded out to short on a routine play to Minaker.  Duda is probably the hardest thrower on the team as his fastball tonight was ranging from the 90-to-95 mile per hour range.

Matt Manship came on in the eighth and the Texas native would struggle.  The first batter he faced was Nathan Faulkner and Faulkner promptly belted a home run over the wall in left center.  Then Robert Perry singled up the middle which was followed by an infield single over the mound by Lange.  Manship loaded the bases when he plunked Ryan Chiarelli with a pitch.  That ended his outing as senior closer David O'Hagan was summoned from the bullpen in what you could certainly call a very tight spot (3-1 game, bases loaded, no outs, #2 hitter due up).

O'Hagan didn't waste any time getting the job done as he quickly struck out pinch-hitter Shawn Epidendio looking with a beautiful curve ball for the first out.  Then Crosta, SCU's leading hitter, popped out on the infield for the second out.  That was followed by a routine ground out to second on a softly hit ball from Michael Thompson.

In the ninth, O'Hagan worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning getting two ground outs and a fly out.  He threw only five pitches in the ninth to seal the Stanford victory.

Game Notes:
* Holler gets credit for the win tonight because of a predetermined pitch count.  It was Blake's fourth win of the season.

* O'Hagan notches his team-leading fifth save with his two perfect innings of relief.

* Offensively, Putnam (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) was the only player with a multi-hit game.  Putnam (.393) now leads the team in batting average (Lowrie is at .390, Hall .380).

* The five hits was a season-low for a home game.  Stanford had reached double figures in the hit column in 18 of their first 22 home contests this season before this evening.

* John Mayberry, Jr. didn't play for the third consecutive game.  He did, however, participate in pregame infield practice.

* Stanford extends their home winning streak to 15 games.  They're now 22-1 at Sunken Diamond this year.

* The Cardinal finish the 2004 season with a perfect 4-0 record against the Broncos.

Santa Clara    0 0 0  0 0 0  0 1 0   -   1   4   0
Stanford       3 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 x   -   3   5   0

WP: Blake Holler (4-2)
LP: Bryan Fleming (0-1)
S: David O'Hagan (5)

HR: Santa Clara - Nathan Faulkner (3)

Records: #2 Stanford (38-8), Santa Clara (22-28)

* The Cardinal return to action this weekend for a three-game series against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.  First pitch on Saturday and Sunday is scheduled for 7:00pm while Monday's series finale will get underway at 1:00pm.

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