Pitching, Defense Key Stanford Victory

Greg Reynolds, Mark Jecmen, Pete Duda, and Matt Manship combined on a four-hitter as the Stanford Cardinal posted a 3-1 victory over the USF Dons on Tuesday night at Sunken Diamond. Not only was the pitching impressive this evening, but the Cardinal defense came through with some incredible plays in the field. Read on for all the details.

Freshman Greg Reynolds got the start in tonight's game versus USF.  Reynolds threw briefly over the weekend as he faced just two batters in relief on Monday against the Wildcats - plunking one guy and walking the other.  But just one day later, the 6'8" right hander was back out on the mound and this time with much different results.

Reynolds tossed the first four innings in tonight's contest yielding one run on three hits.  He walked one and struck out three and was pulled after throwing 63 pitches.  Whether or not this performance earns him another chance as the Sunday starter remains to be seen, but you have to be encouraged by his effort.

In the first inning tonight, Reynolds worked around a two-out single to put up a zero on the scoreboard.  In the second, he issued a two-out walk, but came back to strike out Nick Cirbo to end the inning.  The top of the third was his most effective inning as he quickly set down the Dons 1-2-3 on just eight pitches.  USF finally got to the towering righty in the fourth for a single run.  Armand Gaerlan led off with a well-struck single up the middle.  A wild pitch moved him to second, but it looked as if Reynolds would get out of the inning unscored upon when he got the next two hitters on a ground out and a strike out.  However, Stefan Gartrell would come through with a clutch two-out single plating Gaerlan with USF's first (and only) run of the game.  Reynolds did come back to get Blake Nelson to pop-out on just one pitch ending the rally.

Stanford had all kinds of baserunners in the first, second, and third innings tonight, but were only able to score in the second frame.  Brian Hall led off by reaching on an error which was followed by Chris Carter drawing a four-pitch walk.  Chris Lewis successfully sacrificed the runners over to second and third and then Hall scored on a passed ball from the catcher Cirbo.  Carter would eventually score when John Hester lined a single into left center.  Hester got the start tonight for Donny Lucy (scheduled day off) behind the dish and came through with one of the best performances of his career.

Mark Jecmen relieved Reynolds to start the fifth and the 6'8" righthander flat-out dominated.  Jecmen completely blew away the USF hitters in the fifth as he struck out the side.  He then worked a quick and easy 1-2-3 top of the sixth getting two ground outs and a fly out.  Very impressive work from Jecmen who has been throwing well the past few weeks.

The Cardinal added a run in the bottom of the sixth extending their lead out to 3-1.  With two outs, Lewis reached on an infield single.  After he was balked to second, Hester ripped a 3-0 pitch into the right center gap for a run-scoring double. 

In the seventh, Coach Marquess turned the ball over to sophomore Pete Duda.  Duda was making just his second appearance of the season (and his career), but you wouldn't have guessed it from his performance this evening.  Like Jecmen, Duda retired all six batters he would face in tonight's game.  Not quite as dominating as his teammate, but still just as effective.

Then in the ninth, Matt Manship came on to nail down his third save of the season.  Manship quickly retired the first two batters of the inning before surrendering a single to Chris Genung.  But the sophomore right hander bore down getting Joe Jacobitz to strike out looking to end the game.

It won't necessarily show up in the box score, but the Cardinal really flashed the leather in tonight's game.  Sam Fuld made an unbelievable diving catch on a fly ball to medium-deep right center field to end the seventh inning.  In the eighth, Jonnie Knoble hit a high chopper up the middle off of Duda's glove.  Jed Lowrie came racing in from second to field the deflected ball and somehow was able to make the play over to first.  Both the Fuld catch and the Lowrie catch-and-throw were major league caliber plays.  Chris Lewis and Chris Minaker also had very impressive games on the left side of the infield making some difficult plays look awfully easy.  It may go unnoticed sometimes, but Stanford's team defense this year is one of the best in school history.  Their fielding percentage now stands at a whopping .975 - would be the second highest ever at Stanford if the season ended today (behind only the .977 mark put up by the 2001 squad).

Game Notes:
* Reynolds was very effective tonight, but the bullpen was even better.  Jecmen (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO), Duda (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO), and Manship (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO) combined on five shutout innings.  This was a welcome sight after the Cardinal pitching staff was tagged for 39 runs in the three games at Arizona last weekend.  And while USF isn't anywhere near the Wildcats' level, they have put up some pretty good overall hitting numbers this year (much better than other Tuesday opponents such as Saint Mary's and San Jose State).

* Lowrie (2-for-2), Lewis (2-for-3), and Hester (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI) each had multi-hit games tonight.  Lowrie's season batting average now stands at .412.

* Putnam (1-for-4) extended his hitting streak to ten games with a single in the third inning.

* The three runs scored matches the lowest output by Stanford at home this season.  They also scored three in a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly on March 27th and in a 3-1 win over Santa Clara on May 11th.

* With the win, Stanford has now won 16 consecutive home games and is now 23-1 at Sunken Diamond this year.  Their final six regular season games, starting Friday, will be at the friendly confines.

* The Cardinal picked up their 40th win of the year tonight - that's now ten consecutive seasons with at least 40 victories (a school record).  The last time Stanford didn't win 40 games in a season was back in 1994 when they finished 36-24.

USF          0 0 0  1 0 0  0 0 0   -   1   4   1
Stanford     0 2 0  0 0 1  0 0 x   -   3   7   0

WP: Greg Reynolds (4-1)
LP: Scott Cousins (0-1)
S: Matt Manship (3)

Records: #1 Stanford (40-10), USF (26-30)

* The Cardinal return to action this weekend for a three-game series at Sunken Diamond against the USC Trojans.  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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