Card Rout Bruins To Take Series

A day after a heartbreaking loss to UCLA, the Cardinal bounced back with a convincing 11-1 victory over the Bruins on Sunday afternoon at Sunken Diamond. Matt Leva and Blake Holler combined on a three-hitter on the mound while Jed Lowrie led the offensive attack. In addition, a Cardinal hitter smacked his first career home run. Read on for a complete recap.

It's been a struggle offensively for a good portion of the season for the Stanford Cardinal.  And on the occasion when the offense does put up big numbers in a game, often it's the pitching that will labor.  The result has been 15 of Stanford's 19 losses this year by one or two runs and for the first time in almost a decade, the Cardinal will likely fall out of the top 25 rankings come tomorrow morning.  That all being said, Sunday's performance against lowly UCLA was one of more complete efforts of the season for the Cardinal as they routed the Bruins by an 11-1 score in front of a large crowd of 2,328 at Sunken Diamond.  With the victory, Stanford improves their Pac-10 record to 10-8 on the season while their overall mark now stands at 29-19.

While the hitting came through with 11 runs on 14 hits today, right near the forefront of this afternoon's victory were the pitching performances of Matt Leva and Blake Holler.  Leva earned the start on the mound despite getting roughed up for six runs on six hits in just 1 2/3 innings last time out against California.  But the sophomore right-hander would come through with one of the best outings of his career on this day.  Leva fired the first 6 1/3 innings surrendering just one run on two hits.  He walked two and struck out five.

Leva walked the leadoff batter of the ballgame, but then settled into a groove as he set down the next 13 UCLA hitters in a row.  Leva was in complete control retiring the Bruins on an assortment of strike outs, ground outs, and fly outs.  It wasn't until Matt Sharp's one-out solo home run in the top of the fifth inning that UCLA produced a run, much less a hit, against the Texas native.

The only other base runners against Leva this afternoon were a two-out walk in the sixth inning and a leadoff double from Hector Ambriz in the top of the seventh.  Leva set down the next hitter on a fly out after the Ambriz double and was then removed from the ballgame in favor of Holler.

With Stanford leading 7-1 at the time, Holler promptly struck out pinch-hitter Mike Metzger and Chris Denove to finish the inning.  The southpaw then worked the final two frames allowing just one out while mixing in three strike outs.  It was a dominant relief stint for Holler who lowers his ERA to a sparkling 2.83 on the season.

Offensively, the Cardinal wasted little time getting to UCLA starter Brant Rustich.  Stanford struggled mightily at the plate during the first two games of the series scoring just six runs combined against a beaten up Bruins pitching staff.  Perhaps a fire was lit under this group as they erupted for the double-digit output today against six UCLA hurlers.

In the bottom of the first inning, Chris Minaker, who was moved back up to the #2 spot in the lineup (with Sorgi now hitting leadoff and Rapoport down in the seven hole), blooped a double into shallow center field.  Jed Lowrie was up next and the hot hitting second baseman lined a double down the right field line plating Minaker for a 1-0 lead.  Then John Mayberry, Jr. followed with a double of his own as he grounded a ball down the left field line easily scoring Lowrie with the second run of the inning.

The steady Cardinal offensive attack added two more runs in the bottom of the third inning against Rustich.  A hit by pitch of Mayberry to lead off and a ringing single to left with one out from Michael Taylor put a pair of runners on base.  Rapoport then stepped to the plate and doubled into the left field corner to score Mayberry and move Taylor to third.  Chris Lewis would later bring home Taylor with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.

Leading 4-1, Stanford extended their lead in the bottom of the fifth with three more tallies.  With runners on first and second and one out, Sorgi grounded a single up the middle to give Stanford a four-run lead.  After a Minaker single loaded the bases, Lowrie brought home two more with a line drive single into right field.  The hit gave Stanford a comfortable six-run cushion.

The Cardinal scored their final four runs of the game in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 11-1.  A John Hester leadoff single and a one-out walk of Rapoport put a couple of runners on base.  With a lefty on the mound, Ryan Seawell was asked to pinch-hit for Brendan Domaracki and the sophomore DH promptly launched his first career home run - a blast over the wall near the scoreboard in left center field - to push the lead up to nine runs.  Then back-to-back doubles from Lewis and Sorgi made it a double-digit Cardinal lead to cap the scoring on the afternoon.

Stanford sits alone in fifth place in the Pac-10 with their 10-8 conference record.  Third-place USC (12-6) and fourth-place Arizona State (11-6) are each two games ahead of Stanford in the loss column.  The Sun Devils will play their series finale against Arizona tomorrow night in Tempe.  The Wildcats (13-4) are tied with Oregon State (17-4) in the loss column for the top spot, however Arizona has their work cut out for them if they want to catch the Beavers after OSU swept Washington in Seattle this weekend.  Idle California (11-10) maintains their hold on the sixth place position in the Pac-10 as they fight to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Game Notes:
* The Stanford pitching staff combined to allow just four earned runs in the three games this weekend (1.33 ERA).  Stanford's season team ERA now sits at 3.74 - considerably better than the 4.35 mark of last season which led the conference.

* Lowrie led the offensive attack this afternoon with a 3-for-5, 2B, 3 RBI performance at the plate.  Lowrie is hitting .450 (9-for-20) in his last five games with a home run and eight RBI.  Lowrie now has a team-leading 57 RBI on the season (he had 68 last year).

* Other multi-hit games came from Lewis (2-for-4, 2B, RBI), Sorgi (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI), and Minaker (2-for-6, 2B).

* The home run by Seawell was the first career round-tripper for the Bay Area native.

* Stanford has won six out of their seven home weekend series' this season (Oregon State series the exception).  One remains as a tilt with the high-octane Arizona Wildcats is on tap for this upcoming weekend at Sunken Diamond.

UCLA        0 0 0  0 1 0  0 0 0   -   1   3   0
Stanford    2 0 2  0 3 0  0 4 x   -  11  14   0

WP: Matt Leva (4-2)
LP: Brant Rustich (2-5)

HR: UCLA - Matt Sharp (1); Stanford - Ryan Seawell (1)

Records: #21 Stanford (29-19, 10-8), UCLA (13-35, 2-16)

* The Cardinal return to action on Tuesday with their final midweek game of the regular season as Saint Mary's visits Sunken Diamond.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 P.M.  Pitching regulars Greg Reynolds (0-2, 6.42 ERA), Erik Davis (2-1, 4.85 ERA), and Matt Manship (2-0, 1.03 ERA, 3 SV) did not see any game action this weekend and will likely carry the load against the Gaels.  The upcoming weekend series with Arizona begins on Friday night at Sunken Diamond (6:00 P.M.).  The Saturday and Sunday contests will both get underway at 1:00 P.M.  Sunday's game is the final regular season home game of the season for Stanford.

There is still a possibility that Stanford could schedule a make-up game with San Jose State for the final week of the regular season.  The Cardinal and Spartans were supposed to play in San Jose back on March 22nd, but the contest was rained out.  San Jose State's home field of Municipal Stadium is occupied that week (Tuesday, May 24th would seem to be the likely make-up date if it occurs), however the Spartans do have a field across the street from Municipal Stadium that they play a handful of games on when their original home is in use by the minor league San Jose Giants.  The smaller facility, Blethen Field, is not much larger than a high school ballpark in terms of capacity (and it's without lights), so it remains to be seen if Stanford would want to schedule a game there - assuming the Spartans also want to play the game.

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