Card Drop Series Opener To Texas

The 4th ranked Texas Longhorns jumped all over Cardinal starting pitcher Mark Romanczuk in the early innings Friday afternoon en route to a 6-4 victory. Romanczuk didn't get out of the fourth and the early run support was all the Texas bullpen needed as they completely shut down the Stanford hitters over the final half of the contest. Here is a complete recap.

Junior lefty Mark Romanczuk has often struggled in big games during his career and today's contest against the Texas Longhorns was no different.  Romanczuk had primarily struggled with his control during his previous starts this season, however in this afternoon's game it was a combination of untimely walks and a string of Texas hits that did in the southpaw.

Romanczuk struggled right out of the gate this afternoon issuing a leadoff walk to Preseason All-American Drew Stubbs in the bottom of the first inning.  After a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base, Taylor Teagarden hammered a ball to shortstop that saw Chris Minaker make a diving catch on to keep Texas off the scoreboard.  But Romanczuk couldn't completely finish off the Longhorns as clean-up hitter Carson Kainer followed the Teagarden lineout with a single scoring Stubbs for a 1-0 Texas lead.

After the Kainer hit, Romanczuk allowed a single and then a hit by pitch, but he did come back to strike out Clay Van Hook to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Romanczuk continued to labor in the second surrendering a leadoff single to Chance Wheeless.  After a sacrifice bunt, Stubbs stepped up and doubled to right scoring Wheeless to make the score 2-0 Texas. 

The Stanford hitters, after not cracking the scoreboard in the first two innings, got to UT starter Buck Cody for four runs in the top of the third to take the lead.  Jeff Boes, who got the call at DH today, led off with a single up the middle.  After Jim Rapoport walked, Michael Taylor singled to load the bases, and then John Hester brought home a run with a sacrifice fly to right.  That brought Jed Lowrie to the plate and the All-American second baseman promptly blasted a home run over the wall in the left for a 4-2 Cardinal advantage.

But Romanczuk couldn't hold it.  A leadoff walk to Kainer got things started for the Longhorns in the bottom of the third.  After another sac bunt, Will Crouch singled to put runners at the corners.  Van Hook was up next and the Texas third baseman dropped down a bunt passed Romanczuk to which he was able to beat out for an RBI single.

After a fly out, #9 hitter Robby Hudson came through with a clutch hit singling into right center field plating Texas' fourth run of the ballgame to tie the score.  The dangerous Stubbs was up next and he would ground a ball on the right side to which John Mayberry, Jr. made a diving stop on.  However Romanczuk never covered first base and thus Stubbs beat out the play (he runs very well to begin with) and the infield hit gave Texas a 5-4 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Romanczuk's struggles continued as he again allowed the leadoff man to reach base - this time on a Teagarden single.  Kainer bunted him over to second and then with Thomas Incaviglia at the plate, Teagarden easily stole third base off Romanczuk to put himself 90 feet from scoring.  Marquess had seen enough at this point as he pulled Romanczuk, in the middle of the Incaviglia at-bat, and brought in freshman Erik Davis.

Davis would come through with a tremendous outing on the mound today - easily the best performance of his young career.  He would quickly get out of the mess in the fourth on a ground out and a pop-out and then would be nearly unhittable the remainder of the game.

The freshman right-hander finished the contest for Stanford allowing just one run over 4 2/3 innings.  The run came in the bottom of the sixth as Texas extended their lead out to 6-4.  Teagarden led off with a single, moved to second on a bunt, and scored on a two-out single off the bat of Van Hook.  Davis would finish his outing with bang not allowing another hit after the Van Hook single.  He also struck out four batters during his long relief stint on the mound.

Meanwhile, the Stanford offense was handcuffed by the UT dynamic relief duo of Clayton Stewart and J. Brent Cox.  Stewart entered the game with 9 1/3 scoreless innings and just three hits allowed.  He began his outing today in the top of the fifth and cruised through the fifth and sixth frames, six up and six down.

Stanford's best chance to win the game came in the top of the seventh versus Stewart.  Chris Lewis led off by drawing a walk and then with two outs a Taylor single put a couple of runners on.  Hester was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Lowrie.  Texas head coach Augie Garrido elected to keep Stewart in the game (even with Cox warming in the 'pen) and the moved just barely paid off.  On a 1-and-0 pitch, Lowrie lifted a deep fly ball to left only to see Kainer make the catch on the warning track to keep the score at 6-4.  Just a couple of feet away from a grand slam and a Stanford lead.

The Preseason All-American Cox then came in to start the eighth.  Cox, probably the top closer in college baseball, had even better numbers than Stewart on the year with 7 1/3 scoreless innings of work with just one hit allowed (.043 opponents average) to go with 10 K's.  He promptly struck out the side in the top of the eighth going through Mayberry, Jr., Minaker, and Adam Sorgi.  Then in the ninth, Cox struck out pinch-hitter Randy Molina to lead off.  He followed that with a strike out of Brendan Domaracki and then Jim Rapoport flied out to right to end the game.

Game Notes:
* Romanczuk went just 3 1/3 innings today yielding five runs (four earned) on a whopping nine hits.  He walked two and struck out one.

* At the plate, the Cardinal mustered only five hits - just one after the third inning.  The lone multi-hit game came from Taylor who finished 2-for-4 - his second straight two-hit effort.

* Davis excelled in long relief with just the one run allowed on three hits in 4 2/3 innings.

* Texas starter Buck Cody, who was originally slated to pitch on Saturday, went just the first four innings giving up four runs on four hits.  The duo of Stewart and Cox surrendered just one hit and no runs over the final five frames.  Cox retired all six batters he faced - five via the strike out.

* Stanford has now lost three games on the year by a combined margin of five runs.

* The home run for Lowrie was his fifth of the season in just 40 at-bats.

Stanford   0 0 4  0 0 0  0 0 0   -   4   5   1
Texas      1 1 3  0 0 1  0 0 x   -   6  12   0

WP: Clayton Stewart (4-0)
LP: Mark Romanczuk (2-2)
S: J. Brent Cox (2)

HR: Stanford - Jed Lowrie (5)

Records: #6 Stanford (7-3), #4 Texas (9-0)

* These two teams will play the second game of this three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 12:00pm (PST).  Jeff Gilmore (2-0, 1.89) is scheduled to start for the Cardinal while Texas is expected to counter with right-hander Kyle McCulloch (1-0, 4.85).

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