Card Rally To Defeat Sac State 6-5

Coming off a tough weekend in Seattle, the Cardinal needed a win. It didn't look as if they were going to get it tonight after falling behind 5-0 to the Sacramento State Hornets, but Stanford rallied in the middle innings to win the non-conference battle with Carlos Quentin coming through with the big hit. Read on for a complete recap.

It wasn't easy, but the Stanford Cardinal got a win this evening over the struggling Sacramento State Hornets.  The Hornets (15-24) who came into the game having lost 14 out of their last 16 contests held a 5-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings, but the Cardinal (28-10) rallied for two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth, and three in the seventh to take the lead which they would not relinquish in a 6-5 victory.  Carlos Quentin delivered the big blow with a three-run homer in the seventh while Darin Naatjes, who was one of seven Stanford pitchers that saw action on the mound, picked up the win.

Mark Jecmen got the start on the hill for Stanford and the freshman righthander worked a quick first inning throwing only 14 pitches while not allowing a run.  After the Cardinal didn't score in the bottom of the first, Drew Ehrlich was summoned from the bullpen in the top of the second as Head Coach Mark Marquess was using the pitching by committee strategy this evening.  Ehrlich pitched very well in his two innings as he did not give up a hit while striking out three.  In the fourth, it was Jonny Dyer's turn and Dyer responded with a quick 1-2-3 inning.  Through four frames, the Hornet hitters had not recorded a hit against the trio of Stanford pitchers.  Unfortunately for Stanford fans though, the Cardinal bats weren't doing much either.  Through four innings, they had three hits, but all the runners were stranded on the base paths.

Then in the top of the fifth, Sacramento State finally broke through against the Cardinal.  With one out, #7 hitter Ryan Brown doubled down the left field line off Dyer for the Hornets first hit of the game.  Brown then stole third base but had to hold at third when the next batter, Tito Barba, grounded out to third.  Dyer then quickly got ahead of #9 hitter Everet Rincon 0-and-2 and looked as if he would get out of the inning.  But Rincon hung-in against Dyer and singled scoring Brown for a 1-0 Sac State lead.  That was the only beginning for the Hornets as Dyer walked the next two hitters to load the bases.  That ended his evening as J.D. Willcox was summoned from the bullpen and Willcox didn't fare any better.  The senior righthander walked the first batter he faced forcing home the second run of the inning.  Clean-up batter Joe Evans was the next hitter and Evans singled scoring two more runs increasing the lead to 4-0.  But the bleeding wouldn't stop there for Willcox and the Cardinal as Mario Celillo stepped to the plate and singed home another run for a 5-0 Hornets lead.  Willcox was then pulled from the game in favor of Darin Naatjes and the 6'7" righthander retired the first batter he faced on a groundout to end the inning.

Finally in the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinal hitters got something going against Sacramento State starting pitcher Marshall Plouffe.  Three consecutive singles by Andy Topham, Arik VanZandt, and Chris O'Riordan to lead off the inning produced a run.  Sam Fuld was the next hitter and he singled home VanZandt cutting the lead to 5-2.  All signs pointed toward a big inning, but Ryan Garko then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play ending hopes of that and the inning ended with the score still 5-2.  In the bottom of the sixth, Carlos Quentin led off with a double down the left field line and moved up to third when the leftfielder, Casey Fuller, had trouble with the ball in the corner.  Chris Carter then stepped to the plate and Carter singled to right-center field easily scoring Quentin making the score 5-3 Hornets.  That would be all Stanford would get in that inning though as Plouffe got O'Riordan to line-out to left field with two on base to end the threat.

With the score still 5-3 Hornets, the Cardinal went ahead for good in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a big hit off the bat of Carlos Quentin.  Fuld led off the inning with a bunt single and then Ryan Garko walked putting two runners on.  After a Danny Putnam (who came in for Jason Cooper in the third inning for reasons unknown) bunt moved runners up to second and third, Quentin stepped up and lined a home run over the fence in left for a 6-5 Stanford lead.  Meanwhile, Darin Naatjes was getting the job done on the mound.  Naatjes, after getting out of the fifth inning, pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings to keep Stanford in the game.  Then with the lead, Coach Marquess turned the ball over to David O'Hagan in the eighth and O'Hagan worked a quick 1-2-3 frame.  It was Ryan McCally's turn in the ninth, and the junior righthander rebounded from a tough weekend, to set down the Hornets hitters 1-2-3 picking up his fifth save of the year.

Game Notes :
* This was the second consecutive mid-week game that the Cardinal used seven pitchers.  They used seven hurlers eight days ago in their 19-2 victory over Saint Mary's.

* Chris O'Riordan finished his evening 1-for-5 extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.

* Stanford is now 5-0 in mid-week, non-conference games.  This was the Cardinal's last non-conference home game of the season.  They still have single non-conference games at San Jose State, Santa Clara, and Nevada.

* Naatjes picked up the win with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.  He gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out one to run his record to 3-0.

Sacramento State      0 0 0  0 5 0  0 0 0   -   5   6   2
Stanford              0 0 0  0 2 1  3 0 x   -   6  12   0

Stanford returns to Pac-10 action this weekend when they travel up to Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers.  First pitch is scheduled for 6pm on Friday, 4pm on Saturday, and 1pm on Sunday.

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