Late Inning Collapse Pushes Card to Third in 9-Pac

It's tough to win a baseball game when your bullpen gives up six runs... while the middle of your lineup goes hitless on offense. Stanford gave up a late-inning lead in LA Saturday to the Bru-crew, which also set back the Card in the conference standings.

The struggles of the Stanford bullpen continued this afternoon as the UCLA Bruins came-from-behind in the late innings to defeat the Cardinal 9-4 at Jackie Robinson Stadium.  Stanford (36-16, 12-8) carried a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Bruins (26-29, 9-11) put across two runs in the seventh and then added four more tallies in the eighth inning to propel them to victory.  With the loss, Stanford falls back into third place in the conference as the Washington Huskies defeated Oregon State to move into second place, one game ahead of the Card.  USC is still in first place, 1 1/2 games ahead of Stanford, as the Trojans will play Arizona State later tonight.

The Cardinal jumped on the scoreboard first with a single run in the top of the second inning.  With two outs, Jason Cooper doubled off the right field wall and then scored when the next hitter, Andy Topham, blooped a single to right.  The Bruins though would answer right back in the bottom of the second inning as Wes Whisler, who was also the starting pitcher, homered to deep right field off John Hudgins to tie the game at 1-1.

In the bottom of the third inning, UCLA went ahead thanks in large part to some wildness by Hudgins. With a runner on first base and one out, the sophomore righthander hit consecutive hitters to load the bases for Casey Grzecka.  Grzecka then reached on an infield single scoring a run to put the Bruins ahead 2-1. Hudgins did a good job to get out of the inning without further damage though getting the next two batters to strike out and pop out respectively. 

Stanford went back ahead in the top of the sixth inning with three unearned runs off Whisler.  Scott Dragicevich led off the inning with a strikeout, but reached first base when the ball got away from the catcher.  Brian Hall then grounded a ball to short, but UCLA shortstop Ryan McCarthy was unable to field the ball cleanly and everyone was safe.  Jason Cooper was the next hitter and Cooper was promptly hit by the pitch to load the bases for Andy Topham.  Topham lofted a fly ball to right field that was caught in right by Adam Berry but was deep enough to score Dragicevich from third to tie the game at 2-2.  But when the throw went all the way to home, each runner tried to move up an extra base and although Hall was able to make it into third base, Cooper was thrown out at second for the second out of the inning.  So it looked like the Card wouldn't have a chance for a big inning, but they then got some more help from the UCLA defense.  Arik VanZandt was the next hitter and he hit a routine ground ball to third base that went right threw the legs of Bruin third baseman Brandon Averill scoring Hall to give Stanford back the lead at 3-2. Chris O'Riordan then stepped up and he hit a ground ball to Averill at third and this time it was a throwing error from the UCLA third baseman allowing a runner to reach as Stanford now had runners at first and third with two outs for Sam Fuld.  Fuld then surprised the Bruins with a perfect bunt up the right side easily beating it out at first and scoring VanZandt for a 4-2 lead.

The Bruins quickly responded in the bottom of the sixth as Averill came through with a two out, solo home run cutting the lead in half.  After Hudgins gave up a single to the next hitter, he was pulled in favor of Dan Rich and the senior lefty was able to get out of the jam.  But Rich was not able to do the same thing in the bottom of the seventh.  Ryan Rasmussen led off with a single and then the next hitter, Rashad Parker, laid down a bunt down the first base line. But both Rich and VanZandt went after the ball and before things could be straightened out, everyone was safe.  That ended Rich's afternoon as Ryan McCally was brought in from the bullpen.  A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third and then an intentional walk loaded the bases for #5 hitter Billy Susdorf.  And Susdorf came through with a clutch two-run single to left field putting the Bruins back in front 5-4.

After Stanford was held scoreless in the top of the eighth, UCLA went back to work against McCally in the bottom of the inning.  Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for cleanup hitter Wes Whisler and the powerful left hander delievered the knockout punch with a grand slam to left-center field extending the lead to 9-4. Stanford went down in the top of the ninth and the Bruins had evened the series.

Game Notes :
* Rich and McCally combined to give up six runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.  Rich took the loss to fall to 1-2 on the season.

* It was a pretty good outing for Hudgins this afternoon as he went 5 2/3 innings yielding three runs on six hits.  He did not walk anyone while striking out three.

* Scott Dragicevich's nine-game hitting streak came to an end after he went 0-for-5 today.

* Sam Fuld's hot hitting continued with a 2-for-4 performance.  Fuld now has multiple-hit games in 18 out of the last 20 contests.

* The #3 through the #6 hitters in the Stanford lineup went a combined 0-for-18 this afternoon.

Stanford     0 1 0  0 0 3  0 0 0   -   4   7   0
UCLA         0 1 1  0 0 1  2 4 x   -   9  12   4

The teams will play the rubber game of this three-game series tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.  Tim Cunningham (6-2, 3.97) will be on the mound for the Cardinal while UCLA has yet to announce a starting pitcher.

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