Cardinal Roll In Postseason Opener

A pair of home runs in the fifth inning from Danny Putnam and Donny Lucy keyed a five-run rally which led to Stanford's 10-4 victory over the UNLV Rebels on Friday night in the opening round of the Palo Alto Regional. Stanford had an excellent night at the plate as they pounded out 13 hits in total, but that was only part of the story. Sophomore pitcher Jeff Gilmore dazzled on the mound tossing a complete-game recording eight strike outs in the process. Here is a complete recap.

The top-ranked Stanford baseball team opened up the postseason in style on Friday night at Sunken Diamond with a 10-4 victory over the 4th seeded UNLV Rebels.  With the win, combined with Long Beach State's dramatic 4-3 victory over St. John's earlier in the day, the Cardinal will now face the Dirtbags in the winners bracket game on Saturday at 3:00pm.  Long Beach State will send to the mound their ace hurler and probable Golden Spikes Winner Jered Weaver (14-1, 1.68) while Stanford will counter with their ace, sophomore lefty Mark Romanczuk (11-2, 4.03).

Cardinal starter Jeff Gilmore was making his first career postseason appearance tonight.  The sophomore threw a grand total of 2 1/3 innings last year as a freshman and while Jed Lowrie's transformation from freshman year to sophomore year is given more attention, it should certainly not be lost what Gilmore has accomplished here in 2004.  With the complete-game effort tonight, Gilmore is now a spectacular 10-2 on the year with a 4.43 ERA in 105 2/3 innings pitched.  He's also walked just 24 compared to 77 strike outs.  And tonight he came up huge.

The Rebels did very little against Gilmore over the first four innings as they mustered only two hits against Stanford's #2 starter.  UNLV had a minor threat in the second when they put a couple of guys on with two outs, but Gilmore came back to strike out #8 hitter Brad Ross on three pitches to end the inning.  Gilmore worked perfect 1-2-3 first and fourth innings this evening.

The Cardinal got on the scoreboard first tonight with single runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead.  Facing UNLV ace lefty Jake Vose, Brian Hall drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the second.  Then with Donny Lucy at the plate, Hall advanced all the way to third on a passed ball back to the backstop.  A very heady play by Hall as he saw the ball go all the way to the screen and with the enormous amount of foul territory, he was able to race around to third base safely.  Knowing your home field certainly played a big part on that particular play.

Lucy then brought Hall home with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Cardinal plated another run in the third as Jonny Ash ripped a single into left with two outs.  After he stole second (his first stolen base of the season), Jed Lowrie brought him home with a clutch single into right center field.  It was Lowrie's team-leading 67th RBI of the season.

The Rebels cut the lead in half with an unearned run off Gilmore in the fifth.  With one out, Ross reached on a fielding error by Lowrie at second.  Peter White then crushed a double to left moving Ross to third while Andrew D'Angelo's ground out scored Ross to make it a 2-1 game.  UNLV had a chance for more as White stood at third, representing the tying run, with two outs, but #2 hitter Zeke Parraz bounced out to second to end the inning.

Stanford then blew the game open with a five-spot in the bottom of the fifth to take a 7-1 lead.  Sam Fuld did his job as the leadoff man as he singled up the middle to get things started.  After Ash flied out, Jed Lowrie blooped a single into center moving Fuld to third.  John Mayberry, Jr. flied out to shallow right for the second out, but then Danny Putnam stepped to the plate and the junior left fielder smoked an opposite-field three-run home run to left to extend the lead out to 5-1.

But Stanford wasn't done there as immediately following the Putnam blast, Hall singled and then Lucy got into the act with a two-run homer to left.  Just like that, it was 7-1 Stanford.

UNLV got one of those runs back in the sixth against Gilmore when Eddie Gill connected for a two-out RBI double to score Erik Nielsen.  Nielsen had been hit by a pitch to start the frame.

In the bottom of the sixth, Ash reached on an error with one outs.  Then with two outs, Stanford continued to come through with some clutch hits as Mayberry, Jr. doubled off the wall in left moving Ash to third and then Putnam lined a single up the middle to score both runs for a 9-2 Stanford advantage.

Gilmore breezed through the seventh recording a pair of strike outs, but looked to be tiring some in the eighth as UNLV pushed across two scores to make it a 9-4 contest.  With one out and a runner at first, Ryan Ruiz tripled to score one run.  And then Gill immediately followed with a single to score Ruiz with the Rebels' fourth run of the game.

Stanford scored their final run of this contest in the bottom of the eighth.  Lowrie walked with one out, advanced to second on a balk, and scored on Mayberry, Jr's single to left.

Then in an attempt to keep as many relievers fresh as possible for the remainder of the weekend, Gilmore sucked it up and went back out in the ninth and promptly put up a zero on the scoreboard to end the game and give Stanford a 10-4 victory.

Game Notes:
* Gilmore went all nine innings yielding four runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks and eight strike outs.  The eight K's matched a career-high.

* Putnam was the star at the plate as he went 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBI.  Putnam was on-fire all of last year's postseason, if you recall, as he drove home 21 (to go with five homers) in just 13 games.

* The homer from Putnam was his 16th of the season which ties him with Lowrie for the team-lead.

* Other multi-hit games came from Lowrie (2-for-3, RBI), Mayberry, Jr. (2-for-5, 2B, RBI), and Carter (2-for-3, 2B).

* With the two home runs tonight, Stanford has 91 on the season.  That's now the third highest total in a single-season on the Farm behind the 102 hit by the 1997 squad and the 93 hit back in 1990.

* The last time Stanford went two-and-out in regional play was back in 1994.  Playing in a regional in Austin, the Cardinal dropped a pair of decisions to Texas and Oklahoma.  That's now ten consecutive regionals without the quick 0-2 exit.

* Gilmore has both of Stanford's complete-games this season.

UNLV        0 0 0  0 1 1  0 2 0   -   4   7   2
Stanford    0 1 1  0 5 2  0 1 x   -  10  13   1

WP: Jeff Gilmore (10-2)
LP: Jake Vose (10-4)

HR: Stanford - Danny Putnam (16), Donny Lucy (12)

Records: #1 Stanford (45-12), UNLV (37-23)

* The Cardinal are back in action tomorrow afternoon at 3:00pm in the winners bracket game against #2 seed Long Beach State (Stanford will be the home team).  St. John's will play UNLV in an elimination game at 11:00am.  The winner of the first game will play the loser of the second game at 7:00pm tomorrow in an elimination contest.  The winner of the Stanford-LBSU contest moves on to Sunday and would need just one victory on that day to advance to the super regionals.

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