USC Exacts Revenge on Romanczuk

The last time Mark Romanczuk took the mound against USC, he trounced the Trojans and outdueled their ace. The junior lefthander was on the hill for a second time Friday night, and he initially worked magic once again. But things fell apart in the sixth inning, and the Cardinal could never recover, suffering a 5-2 loss in the opening game of their final regular season series.

The game began as an entertaining pitcher's duel between Ian Kennedy and Mark Romanczuk. The Cardinal southpaw was moved back into the Friday slot into the rotation, most likely due to his early-season success against the Trojans back in February (9 IP, 0 R, 12 SO). The move also shifts ace Jeff Gilmore back to the Saturday position, where the pitching matchup will favor Stanford with the junior going up against USC's #2 starter as opposed to Kennedy - arguably the most dominant pitcher in the conference.

The game was scoreless over the first three innings with the Cardinal mustering only one hit against Kennedy. On the other side, Romanczuk was equally effective with just two hits surrendered and no walks. Romanczuk threw an efficient 32 pitchers over the initial three frames.

Then in the fourth, the Cardinal bats awoke for two runs against Kennedy to take the lead. With one out, John Mayberry, Jr. rifled a single into center field. Jed Lowrie was up next and the All-American slammed a double into the right field corner, as Mayberry raced all the way around from first base with the game's first run. Lowrie took third base when SC right fielder Roberto Lopez mishandled the baseball in the corner.

After John Hester drew a walk, Michael Taylor grounded out weakly to second. But with Lowrie moving on contact, the second baseman scored without a throw to give Stanford a 2-0 lead.

The Trojans would not break through against Romanczuk until the bottom of the fifth, when Baron Frost led off with a single, moved to second on a balk, and scored on Lopez' sharp two-out single into right center field. For USC, it was their first run against Romanczuk this season in 13 2/3 innings.

The wheels would then come off for the junior lefty in the bottom of the sixth, as five of the first six hitters reached base safely with three scoring runs to make it a 4-2 USC lead. Blake Sharpe started the rally with a solo home run to right field to tie the game. After Jeff Clement lined a single into center field and moved to second on a passed ball, Billy Hart reached on a single to put runners at the corners.

Romanczuk came through with a big strike out of Hector Estrella as the runners remained at the corners, but then Cyle Hankerd smoked a line drive up the middle to score another run. Romanczuk got the end of his glove on the line drive to slow the baseball, allowing shortstop Chris Minaker to make a play. But Minaker's flip to Lowrie pulled the second baseman off the bag and everyone was safe. The difficult play made not have been in time to record the out anyway, as the run scored easily to make it 3-2.

Frost was up next and the USC designated hitter bounced a single over Adam Sorgi's head at third base, plating Hart with the third run of the inning. Romanczuk would do a nice job to stop the rally there, as Matt Cusick was retired on a bunt and Darin Vieira struck out swinging to end the inning.

Trailing 4-2, Stanford's best chance to tie the score was in the top of the eighth. Ben Summerhays reached safely on a one-out line drive single into left field. After Sorgi grounded into a fielder's choice, Minaker bounced a double down the left field line to move the tying run into scoring position. But on a 2-2 pitch, Mayberry, Jr. popped out down the right field line, stranding both runners.

Greg Reynolds worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh out of the bullpen before giving up a run in the eighth. Freshman Erik Davis came on with one out in the eighth and promptly induced a double play ground ball from Cusick, holding the score at 5-2. USC closer Paul Koss relieved Kennedy to start the ninth and worked around a two-out walk to Michael Taylor to slam the door on the Cardinal and preserve the victory.

Game Notes:

  • Kennedy was the star of the game with eight quality innings on the mound. The sophomore right-hander allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits. He walked two and struck out nine as his record improved to 11-2 on the season. At one point in the game, from the fourth through the eighth inning, Kennedy set down 12 straight Stanford hitters.
  • Minaker (1-for-4) extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games with his eighth-inning double.
  • Romanczuk suffered the loss for Stanford as he surrendered four runs on nine hits in six innings. Romanczuk walked one and struck out six.
  • Romanczuk has not won a game since April 1st in Washington State - the first Pac-10 series of the season.
  • Stanford is now 2-2 against USC this year.

Stanford  0 0 0  2 0 0  0 0 0  -  2  5  1
USC       0 0 0  0 1 3  0 1 x  -  5 11  1

WP: Ian Kennedy (11-2)
LP: Mark Romanczuk (5-6)
S: Paul Koss (11)

HR: USC - Blake Sharpe (5)

Records: Stanford (31-22, 11-11), USC (36-18, 14-8)

* The Cardinal and Trojans will play game two of this series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch at Dedeaux Field is scheduled for 2:00 P.M. Jeff Gilmore (9-2, 3.61 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for Stanford while USC is expected to counter with Jack Spradlin (5-3, 4.34 ERA). The Cardinal have yet to announce a starting pitcher for Sunday's game.

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