Card Lose To Long Beach; Defeat St. John's

It's an uphill climb now for the Stanford Cardinal as they were defeated by Long Beach State, 7-4, on Saturday afternoon. Jered Weaver shut down the potent Cardinal offense and Mark Romanczuk was chased early in the loss. However, Stanford did bounce back to knock off St. John's by a 7-2 tally later in the evening to keep their season alive. The Cardinal now need to defeat the Dirtbags twice tomorrow to move on to the super regionals.

It was a full day of baseball out at Sunken Diamond today and Cardinal faithful can only hope the same holds true for tomorrow.  There's certainly a lot to go over from the day's events as Stanford dropped a tough 7-4 decision to Jered Weaver and Long Beach State in the afternoon before bouncing back in the nightcap to defeat St. John's by a 7-2 score.

Clearly one big negative from the Long Beach game was the performance put forth by sophomore left handed pitcher Mark Romanczuk.  In his biggest start of the season, Romanczuk wasn't able to come through as he was tagged for five runs (all earned) on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. 

Long Beach recorded back-to-back doubles in the first inning to score a run.  In the top of the third, #4 hitter Troy Tulowitzki connected for a solo homer.  Then the Dirtbags chased Romanczuk with three runs in the fourth.  Mike Hofius led off with a double and scored when the next batter, Sean Boatright, singled.  Then with two outs, back-to-back doubles from Danny Mocny and John Bowker resulted in two more runs coming home to score which ended Romanczuk's afternoon.  An extremely disheartening outcome for Romanczuk as even Stanford's potent offense was going to have trouble getting to Weaver to the tune of five runs in this contest.

Stanford actually had a chance to put a dent up on the scoreboard against Weaver in the third and fourth innings.  They scored a single run in both frames, but lacked the big two-out hit to do any serious damage.

In the third, Chris Minaker doubled with one out and scored on Sam Fuld's single.  But Danny Putnam popped out to shortstop with runners at second and third to end the rally.  Then in the fourth, Minaker came through with a two-out RBI single to score Brian Hall who had earlier singled.  But in arguably the biggest at-bat of the game, Jonny Ash went down on strikes with the bases loaded to keep the score at 5-2.

After that, Stanford had no chance against Weaver as the Long Beach ace settled into a groove.  In fact, Weaver set down the Cardinal in order 1-2-3 in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings before being removed from the game.  Weaver looked every bit like the top player in college baseball today as he improved his record to 15-1 on the season.

Stanford did make quite a bit of noise against LBSU closer Neil Jamison in the bottom of the ninth.  Trailing 7-2 and with two outs and nobody on, three consecutive singles from Chris Carter, Minaker, and Jim Rapoport loaded the bases.  Ash then delivered a two-run single up the middle to make the score 7-4 and bring the tying run to the plate.  And Jed Lowrie came oh so close to tying the game with a dramatic three-run homer as he flied out to the warning track in left ending the contest.

The Cardinal would have little time to think about that loss as they had to return to the field 50 minutes later to battle the St. John's Red Storm in an elimination game.  St. John's defeated UNLV in the morning game to stay alive.

Matt Leva made the start for the Cardinal and the freshman right hander came through in a huge way.  Keeping the Red Storm hitters off-balance all night, Leva tossed a complete-game seven-hitter with just one walk.  He also struck out five as his record improves to 6-2 on the season.

St. John's never seriously threatened against Leva as they scored their lone runs in the third (without the benefit of a hit) and the ninth (when the game had already been decided).  A very impressive effort from the 5'10" Texas native.

Offensively, Stanford wasn't spectacular, but they did enough in plating seven runs on ten hits en route to the 7-2 victory.  Minaker belted a solo homer in the third inning to deep left center to make it a 2-0 Cardinal lead.  In the fifth, John Mayberry, Jr. absolutely crushed a home run over the wall in left (that may have actually cleared the light post in left field).  One of the most impressive home runs I've ever seen hit at Sunken Diamond as the blast gave Stanford a 5-1 advantage.

Jed Lowrie was having a tough day at the plate spanning the two games.  He was making solid contact all day long, just missing a home run on two separate occasions.  Well, he finally broke loose late in the St. John's game with a hard-hit single in the seventh and a ringing home run to right in the ninth.  It was his team-leading 17th longball of the season.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Stanford needs two victories over Long Beach State to win the Palo Alto Regional and keep their season alive.  Meanwhile, the 49ers need to just take one game from Stanford and would certainly like to get it done in the first contest as they have their talented lefty, Cesar Ramos, scheduled to start on the hill.  Ramos is 10-4 on the year with a 2.10 ERA.  If Stanford can find a way to win the first contest, they have to like their chances in the nightcap going up against Long Beach's bullpen (which has an ERA over eight as a group spanning the last 16 games).

As for who gets the ball for Stanford, Coach Marquess mentioned after the game tonight that he has yet to make up his mind.  The three players he said could start the first contest were freshman lefty Blake Holler, freshman righty Greg Reynolds, or senior right hander David O'Hagan.  Holler would seem to be a good matchup with LBSU considering the Dirtbags have some key left handed hitters in their lineup and a sub-.500 record this year when facing a left handed starter (although you wouldn't have guessed that against Romanczuk this afternoon).  Reynolds has some experience starting this year, but easily has the highest ERA of the trio at 6.00.  While O'Hagan is best pitcher on the Cardinal staff with a 6-1 record, 2.62 ERA, and six saves.  He's yet to throw this weekend so he's fresh, however the senior has not started one single game in his career on the Farm.

Trying to figure out who would start the second game, if it was needed, is hard to do right now.  Stanford obviously has to go all-out to win the first game and would just go with whoever is left to start the nightcap.  If they can somehow manage to get through the first game without using O'Hagan, he would seem to be the most likely candidate to start.  Remember also that Matt Manship and Mark Jecmen have yet to throw this weekend so they're both very fresh.  While Jeff Stimpson only threw eight pitches in 2/3 scoreless innings this afternoon and should be good-to-go.  Stanford's pitching depth will certainly be tested tomorrow.

Long Beach Game Notes:
* Weaver was on his game today as he fired eight dominant innings yielding only two runs (one earned) on five hits.  He walked one and struck out eight.

* Quick relieved Romanczuk in the fourth and pitched very well retiring the first seven batters he faced.  However, a pair of solo homers in the top of the seventh chased him from the game.  Quick ended up throwing 2 2/3 innings and a total of 37 pitches.

* The loss snapped Stanford's amazing 12-game home winning streak in the postseason.  That streak dated back to the super regionals in 2001 (vs. South Carolina).

* Minaker (3-for-4, 2B, RBI) and Ash (2-for-4, 2 RBI) had multi-hit games for the Cardinal.

Long Beach State  1 0 1  3 0 0  2 0 0   -   7  14   1
Stanford          0 0 1  1 0 0  0 0 2   -   4   9   1

WP: Jered Weaver (15-1)
LP: Mark Romanczuk (11-3)

HR: Long Beach State - Troy Tulowitzki 2 (4, 5), Danny Mocny (4)

Records: #1 Stanford (45-13), #18 Long Beach State (38-19)

St. John's Game Notes:
* The nine innings thrown by Leva was a season-high.  His previous high was four innings which he had done twice.

* The three homers hit in this game by Stanford brings their season total up to 94.  That's now the second highest single-season total in Cardinal baseball history (1997 team hit 102).

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

Stanford          1 0 1  1 2 1  0 0 1   -   7  11   0
St. John's        0 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 1   -   2   7   5

WP: Matt Leva (6-2)
LP: Matt Tosoni (5-2)

HR: Stanford - Jed Lowrie (17), John Mayberry, Jr. (15), Chris Minaker (4)

Records: #1 Stanford (46-13), St. John's (37-23)

* The Cardinal will battle the 49ers tomorrow at Sunken Diamond with a berth in the super regionals at stake.  First pitch is at 1:00pm.  If Long Beach wins, the Dirtbags move on and Stanford's season comes to an end.  If the Cardinal win, the two teams will play again at 5:00pm in a winner-take-all contest.

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