Cardinal Win A Wild Series Opener

It was a back-and-forth affair on Saturday night down in Tucson. Arizona pounded Mark Romanczuk for five runs in the bottom of the first inning to take early control of this game. But the Cardinal ace would settle down and the Stanford offense would come through in the middle frames to take a comfortable lead. However, it would take some clutch pitching from David O'Hagan in the last two innings to preserve a tense 11-9 Cardinal victory. Read on for a complete recap.

Stanford took an early 1-0 lead in this ballgame with a single tally in the top of the first.  With one out, Chris Minaker drew a walk.  Then Minaker raced around to third base on a wild pickoff throw from UA pitcher Koley Kolberg.  The Cardinal shortstop would score when Danny Putnam came through with a clutch two-out single.

The Wildcats though would answer back and in a big way.  With one out, Jeff Van Houten singled up the middle.  Mark Romanczuk then hit Jordan Brown with a pitch which was followed by a walk to Moises Duran to load the bases.  Freshman shortstop Jason Donald was up next and Donald delivered a two-run single to give Arizona the lead.  But the Wildcats weren't done as Richard Mercado then singled home a run while a fourth run scored on a ground out off the bat of Trevor Crowe.  The fifth and final run of the inning scored on a fielding error committed by third baseman Chris Lewis.

Trailing 5-1, Stanford responded with two runs in the top of the second to cut the lead in half.  Donny Lucy led off with a walk then Brian Hall smoked a double off the wall in right to put runners at second and third.  Lucy would come home to score on a sacrifice fly from Chris Carter while Hall scored on a Lewis ground out.

Arizona mustered one run off Romanczuk in the bottom of the second to extend their lead out to 6-3.  Van Houten tripled to center field with one out and scored when the next batter, Brown, flied out to right.  However, that would be all the Wildcats would get in this game against the sophomore southpaw.

Stanford used some two-out magic in the top of the third to retake the lead.  With one out, Jed Lowrie singled.  Then with two outs, John Mayberry, Jr., who returned to the lineup tonight, singled.  After a walk to Lucy loaded the bases, Hall blasted a triple off the wall in center field plating all three runners to tie the game at 6-6.  Carter would keep things going after the Hall hit as he ripped a single into right scoring Hall for a 7-6 Stanford lead.

The Cardinal added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings extending their lead out to 9-6.  In the fourth, Sam Fuld walked to lead off and then stole second.  A single from Minaker moved Fuld to third while Lowrie's single brought home the speedy center fielder.

While in the fifth, Lewis launched a solo home run well over the fence in left - his fourth round-tripper of the season.

Meanwhile, Romanczuk settled down over the middle innings (3rd through the 5th) to preserve the Cardinal lead.  He allowed just one hit over those three frames while he fanned five - including three straight in the bottom of the fourth. 

In the top of the sixth, Stanford pushed across another run to reach double figures.  With one out, Putnam singled and then advanced to second on a balk.  With two outs, Lucy reached on an error to put runners at the corners.  And then Putnam came home to score on a wild pickoff throw to first to make it a 10-6 game.

In the bottom of the sixth, Romanczuk issued a leadoff walk which ended his evening.  Freshman Blake Holler was the new pitcher and the Indiana native did a fabulous job getting out of the inning recording a pair of strike outs and then getting a lineout.

Holler worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh to put up another zero, however the bottom of the eighth would be an eventful one.  With the score still 10-6 Stanford, Holler walked Mercado to lead off which was followed by a ringing RBI double to right center off the bat of Crowe.  Holler was lifted from the game at this point as Coach Marquess gave the ball to his ace closer David O'Hagan.

O'Hagan made things awfully interesting in that bottom of the eighth, but like he always seems to do, he escaped without any damage.  The senior hit pinch-hitter Brad Boyer to start things off.  After a pop out for the first out of the inning, O'Hagan hit another batter to load the bases.  That set the stage for an O'Hagan versus Jeff Van Houten matchup with Van Houten representing the go-ahead run.  Van Houten hit over .400 last season in earning All-American honors, but has seen his average dip down to .331 entering play tonight.  He's still an extremely dangerous hitter though and O'Hagan didn't help matters by falling behind in the count 2-and-0.  But the gutty closer still found a way to get it done as he induced Van Houten to pop out to first for the second out.

O'Hagan's work was far from over though as up next Bill Rhinehart - a freshman hitting .339 with seven homers.  Again O'Hagan fell behind 2-and-0, but again on that 2-and-0 pitch, O'Hagan got one of the most powerful hitters in the Arizona lineup to pop out harmlessly to first.  Disaster averted as the score remained Stanford 10, Arizona 7.

The Cardinal picked up an insurance run in the top of the ninth to make it an 11-7 ballgame.  Hall drew a one-out walk and then stole his team-leading 12th base of the season.  After a strike out of Carter, Adam Sorgi, who replaced Lewis at third base for defensive reasons in the eighth, lined a single into right scoring Hall.

The bottom of the ninth would be a different story for O'Hagan, but he would still find a way to preserve the victory.  A leadoff walk to Duran was followed by a passed ball.  Duran then scored when Donald singled him home.  The Wildcat rally continued when Mercado ripped a double to deep right moving Donald to third.  But with the tying run at the plate, O'Hagan again figured out a way to set down these Arizona hitters.  Crowe grounded out to second (which scored a run) for the first out.  Then O'Hagan struck out Boyer for second out while Derek Decater hit a routine fly ball to left ending the ballgame.

Game Notes:
* Every Cardinal starter with the exception of Lucy (who still walked twice and scored two runs) picked up a hit today.

* Multi-hit games came from Putnam (3-for-5, RBI), Lowrie (2-for-5, RBI), and Hall (2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI).

* For Putnam, it was seventh consecutive multi-hit game.  He's now batting .398 on the season (just ahead of Lowrie's .390 and Hall's .383).

* Mayberry, Jr. was back in the lineup after missing the last three games.  The sophomore first baseman went 1-for-4 with a walk.

* Romanczuk picks up his tenth win of the season.  The sophomore went five innings surrendering six runs (five earned) on five hits.  He walked four and struck out eight.

* O'Hagan gets the save despite not having his best stuff.  He went two innings yielding two runs on two hits.  He walked one and struck out one.

* Stanford (12-4) remains in a virtual tie for first place in the conference with Washington (14-6).  The Huskies have taken the first two games of their weekend series with USC.

Stanford     1 2 4  1 1 1  0 0 1   -   11  13   1
Arizona      5 1 0  0 0 0  0 1 2   -    9   9   3

WP: Mark Romanczuk (10-1)
LP: Koley Kolberg (7-5)
S: David O'Hagan (6)

HR: Stanford - Chris Lewis (4)

Records: #2 Stanford (39-8, 12-4), Arizona (25-21-1, 7-9)

* The Cardinal and Wildcats will continue this three-game series tomorrow evening at 7:00pm.  Jeff Gilmore (8-2, 4.30) is scheduled to start for Stanford while Arizona is expected to counter with Kevin Guyette (6-5, 6.24).







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