Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short

It was almost one of the greatest comebacks in recent Stanford baseball history. Trailing 8-1 in the top of the ninth inning, the Cardinal, behind a Jed Lowrie grand slam, pushed across six runs to get themselves back in the ballgame. But with runners at second and third and two outs, Jim Rapoport struck out swinging thus ending the rally and sending Stanford to their second straight loss to Texas.

So close.  The Cardinal, for the first time this season, were getting dominated by an opponent as the 4th ranked Texas Longhorns carried an 8-1 lead into the top of the ninth this afternoon at Disch-Falk Field.  Stanford had notched nine hits over the first eight frames, but their inability to string any of them together plus some clutch Longhorn hitting led to the big deficit.  Then came the top of the ninth and an amazing rally that fell just short.

Three consecutive singles from Brendan Domaracki, Jim Rapoport, and Chris Lewis off of UT closer J. Brent Cox got things started.  Freshman Michael Taylor was up next and he singled to score one run cutting the lead down to 8-2.  After John Hester came up with an RBI single of his own, All-American Jed Lowrie stepped to the plate and launched an opposite field grand slam home run to left and just like that it was an 8-7 ballgame.

After John Mayberry, Jr. followed the Lowrie blast with a single, Cox was lifted from the ballgame in favor of Clayton Stewart.  The offensive output against Cox by Stanford was staggering.  The junior right-hander had allowed just one hit and no runs in his first 9 1/3 innings pitched this season prior to today.  That included a two-inning save yesterday where Cox set down all six Cardinal batters he faced - five via the strike out.  Today, however, was a different story.  Seven batters faced, seven hits allowed, and six runs scored. 

Stewart also pitched yesterday tossing three scoreless innings of relief to record the victory.  On the season, he had allowed no runs in 12 1/3 innings and unfortunately for the Cardinal, that perfect mark would remain intact. 

With Mayberry, representing the tying run, at first base and none out, Chris Minaker grounded into a fielders choice.  Adam Sorgi would keep the momentum going though with a single into center field putting runners at first and second.  Domaracki, the tenth man to hit in the inning, would follow with a ground ball to first base.  The force out was recorded at second on Sorgi, but Domaracki was able to beat out the relay throw to first to keep the game alive. 

Cameron Matthews was then inserted to pinch run at first and he promptly stole second without a throw.  That set the stage as the Cardinal had the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with two outs.  But Stewart was able to finish the job striking out Rapoport swinging ending the game with an 8-7 score.

The Cardinal were put in this difficult ninth inning situation thanks to Texas getting to Jeff Gilmore in the middle frames.  Gilmore began the contest with two scoreless innings before surrendering a solo home run to all-everything center fielder Drew Stubbs in bottom of the third.  That tied the game at 1-1.

Gilmore looked as if he would breeze through the fourth as he easily set down the first two batters of the inning before Clay Van Hook reached on a throwing error from Sorgi on a slowly hit ground ball to keep things alive.  That miscue opened the door for Texas, unfortunately, as Robby Hudson promptly doubled home Van Hook for a 2-1 Texas lead.  Then after a walk to Stubbs, Thomas Incaviglia singled home another run to make it 3-1.

Texas then knocked out Gilmore with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.  A single, a walk, and then another single loaded the bases with one out.  Van Hook provided the big RBI hit when he singled home two runs for a 5-1 Longhorn advantage.  After a pitching change brought Blake Holler into the game, Hudson singled home another run and Texas was well out in front by a 6-1 score.

Stanford had at least one baserunner in each of the first eight innings, but could do very little in terms of scoring runs.  Prior to the ninth, their only tally came in the top of the third when Hester singled home a run with a clutch two-out single. 

Meanwhile, Holler was having his way with the Texas hitters.  The lefty got out of the mess in the bottom of the fifth and then retired the Longhorns in order in the sixth and seventh innings.  A leadoff walk to Hudson in the bottom of the eighth ended a string of eight consecutive batters retired by Holler and then it was Stubbs coming through with another big hit when he smacked an inside-the-park home run to center field increasing the lead out to 8-1.  It was a line drive to center that got past Rapoport and rolled all the way to the wall.  Over than that hit, it was an outstanding outing for Holler who officially gave up two runs on two hits in 3 2/3 innings.  He walked just one and struck out three.

Game Notes:
* Gilmore, despite the strong first few innings, had his worst start of the season.  The junior allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.  He walked four and struck out six. 

* The 17 hits for Stanford was a season-high.

* Sorgi (3-for-5) and Lewis (3-for-4) led the way in the hit column.  Taylor (2-for-5, RBI), Hester (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Mayberry, Jr. (2-for-5), and Rapoport (2-for-5, 2B) also had multi-hit games.

* For Lowrie, it was his sixth home run of the season through just 11 games.  The grand slam was the second of his career (his previous one came in the ninth inning of the 19-18 heartbreaking loss at Arizona last May).

* Stanford has now lost their four games this season by a combined margin of six runs.

* Texas, who is ranked #1 in three of the four polls, is now a perfect 10-0 on the season.

Stanford   0 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 6   -   7  17   1
Texas      0 0 1  2 3 0  0 2 x   -   8  11   0

WP: Kyle McCulloch (2-0)
LP: Jeff Gilmore (2-1)
S: Clayton Stewart (1)

HR: Stanford - Jed Lowrie (6) ; Texas - Drew Stubbs 2 (2, 3)

Records: #6 Stanford (7-4), #4 Texas (10-0)

* The Cardinal will try to avoid the sweep tomorrow as the final game of this three-game series gets underway at 11:00am (PST).  Nolan Gallagher (0-1, 0.90) is scheduled to start for Stanford while the Longhorns are expected to counter with right-hander Randy Boone (1-0, 1.64).  The last time Stanford was swept in the regular season was January 31-February 2, 2003 when they dropped three in a row at Cal State Fullerton (7-3, 10-2, 8-2).  That's a string of 32 consecutive series'.

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