Card Open Season With Victory

Brendan Domaracki's pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning sent the Cardinal to a thrilling 2-1 victory over 5th ranked Cal State Fullerton on Friday night. A well-pitched contest all the way around saw Stanford hurlers Greg Reynolds and Jeremy Bleich both excel on the mound on this night. Here is a complete recap from the dramatic season-opener at Sunken Diamond.

Brendan Domaracki's one-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning propelled the Stanford Cardinal to a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Cal State Fullerton Titans in both teams' season-opener Friday night.  In front of 1,893 fans at Sunken Diamond, the Cardinal loaded the bases in the final inning with the game tied.  Domaracki was asked to pinch-hit for DH Brian Juhl and the sophomore outfielder delivered a clutch hard-hit RBI single past diving third baseman Bryan Harris to score the winning run.

With the game tied at 1-1, Preseason All-American Michael Taylor started the ninth inning rally for Stanford with a line drive triple into the right field corner on a 3-2 pitch.  Taylor showed off his magnificent speed on the play easily reaching third base to put the wheels in motion for the Cardinal.

Fullerton head coach George Horton elected to set-up the force at home by intentionally walking Jason Castro and John Hester to load the bases.  Horton then summoned standout closer Vinnie Pestano into the game in hopes the side-winding right-hander could work some magic and force extra innings. 

Pestano started by retiring Lewis on a routine pop-out to first base.  Mark Marquess then countered with a pinch-hitter sending Domaracki to the plate for Juhl (who was 0-for-3 with a pair of strike outs on the night).  Domaracki quickly fell behind in the count, but on a 1-2 pitch, went the other way with his solid single into left field easily scoring Taylor for Stanford's first victory of the season.

Jeremy Bleich earned the win on the mound for the Cardinal with an impressive 2 1/3 inning stint in his collegiate debut.  The freshman was brought into the contest to relieve starter Greg Reynolds in the top of the seventh inning with runners on second and third, two outs, and a 1-1 tie.  The hitter due up was leadoff man Brandon Tripp who had gone 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles against Reynolds earlier in the night.  The left-versus-left matchup though wouldn't last as Bleich promptly plunked Tripp with the very first pitch of his collegiate career.

The freshman though would respond.  Four-year starter Justin Turner, one of the most experienced players in all of college baseball, was unable to push across the go-ahead run for the Titans as he flied out to deep right center field to end the threat.  Taylor made an excellent running catch on the play again showing off his excellent speed and improved defensive play in the outfield.

Bleich settled into a nice groove following that out retiring Cal State Fullerton hitters 1-2-3 in each of the eighth and ninth frames.  Bleich induced four ground outs and two fly outs en route to picking up the win.  A Top 100 player in high school last season, Bleich impressed immediately in fall workouts a few months ago.  Coach Marquess will often test the freshman pitchers he thinks have a chance to make a significant contribution very early in the season in some tight spots.  The fact Bleich was used as the very first reliever tonight is a strong signal about his skill level and what the coaching staff thinks he'll be able to accomplish this season.  And Bleich certainly passed his first test with flying colors on this night.

Meanwhile, in his first career Friday night start, Reynolds also had an impressive outing.  The junior right-hander was in complete control during his entire stint on the mound firing 6 2/3 quality innings.  He scattered eight hits with just one run allowed, no walks, and three strike outs.  Reynolds was consistently throwing hard with a fastball sitting in the 91-93 M.P.H. range.  He complemented the pitch with a devastating curve ball that is night-and-day better than what we saw at the beginning of last season.  He also racked up plenty of swing-throughs with an excellent, deceptive change-up.

Fullerton's only run off of the Cardinal ace came in the top of the third inning when Evan McArthur led off with an infield single to shortstop.  He was bunted over to second and then scored when Tripp blasted a double to deep left field.

The Titans only other serious threats against Reynolds came in the fifth when Jared Clark singled with two outs followed by another Tripp double.  But Reynolds induced Turner to ground out to second base on a nice play by Chris Lewis moving to his right to field the ball and then an excellent scoop of a low throw by Castro over at first. 

Fullerton also threatened in the seventh with a pair of one-out singles off the towering right-hander only to see Bleich came in and slam the door.

Reynolds though was matched pitch-for-pitch by Titans ace Wes Roemer.  A sophomore right-hander with excellent control, Roemer proved very difficult to hit all night with eight strike outs compared to no walks over seven strong innings.  The Cardinal scored their only run off Roemer in the bottom of the third inning when Ryan Seawell tripled to deep center field with one out.  The ball was misplayed slightly by Tripp - possibly losing sight of the ball in the lights.  The Cardinal would cash in as Austin Yount followed the Seawell hit with a double to the left center field gap on the very first pitch thrown to the freshman infielder.

CS Fullerton   0 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 0   -   1   8   0
Stanford       0 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 1   -   2   6   0

Fullerton           POS   AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Brandon Tripp        CF    3   0   3   1     0   0
Justin Turner        2B    4   0   0   0     0   0
Blake Davis          SS    4   0   0   0     0   1
Brett Pill           1B    4   0   0   0     0   0
John Curtis           C    4   0   1   0     0   0
Clark Hardman        DH    4   0   0   0     0   2
Danny Dorn           LF    4   0   1   0     0   0
Evan McArthur        3B    2   1   1   0     0   0
 David Cooper        PH    1   0   1   0     0   0
 Bryan Harris       PR/3B  1   0   0   0     0   0
Jared Clark          RF    2   0   1   0     0   0

2B: Tripp 2

                     IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Wes Roemer           7.0  4   1   1   0   8
Dustin Miller (L)    1.0  1   1   1   2   0
Vinnie Pestano       0.1  1   0   0   0   0

Stanford            POS   AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Jim Rapoport         CF    4   0   0   0     0   1
Chris Minaker        SS    4   0   1   0     0   0
Michael Taylor       RF    4   1   2   0     0   0
Jason Castro         1B    3   0   0   0     1   1
John Hester           C    3   0   0   0     1   2
Chris Lewis          2B    3   0   0   0     0   0
Matt Leva            DH    0   0   0   0     0   0
 Brian Juhl         PH/DH  3   0   0   0     0   2
 Brendan Domaracki   PH    1   0   1   1     0   0
Ryan Seawell         LF    3   1   1   0     0   2
Austin Yount         3B    3   0   1   1     0   0

2B: Yount
3B: Taylor, Seawell
SB: Taylor

                     IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Greg Reynolds        6.2  8   1   1   0   3
Jeremy Bleich (W)    2.1  0   0   0   0   0

* Not only did the freshman Castro earn the start at first base in the season-opener, but he was promptly inserted into the clean-up spot in the batting order.  The left-handed hitting Castro was one of Stanford's top hitters during Fall Ball and January intrasquads and it was well-known he was going to see considerable early playing time this season.  He lined out sharply to shortstop in his first at-bat before a routine fly out to shallow right field, a strike out, and an intentional walk.

* Adam Sorgi did not play because of his shoulder injury with the freshman Yount taking his place at third base.  Yount made a number of strong defensive plays on the evening while also supplying the big RBI double in the third inning.  Like Castro, Yount was one of the team's top hitters (including freshmen and returning players) throughout intrasquad games.  Yount also is expected to see action out of the Cardinal bullpen this year.

* The season-opener was a clean game for both clubs.  Neither team committed an error while the only walks of the night were the two intentional free passes in the bottom of the ninth inning.

* Nolan Gallagher was getting loose in the bullpen in the eighth and ninth innings for Stanford in case Bleich struggled.  This could be sign that the sophomore right-hander will be asked to close some games for the Cardinal early this season.  Matt Leva was the starting DH (as expected, was removed for a pinch-hitter) and thus could be getting the ball to start Sunday's series finale.

* The series will continue Saturday afternoon at Sunken Diamond with first pitch scheduled for 1:00 P.M.  Matt Manship is scheduled to start for the Cardinal while Cal State Fullerton is expected to counter with right-hander Jared Clark.  

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