Baseball Falters Late In Loss

Two Chris Lewis errors - on the same play - led to three unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Fresno State Bulldogs rallied past the Cardinal, 7-5, on Saturday afternoon. The Stanford bullpen also struggled in the late innings as the Bulldogs came-from-behind to even the three-game series. The rubber contest is set for Sunday afternoon in Fresno.

With a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Head Coach Mark Marquess elected to turn the game over to his ace freshman closer Jeremy Bleich.  Bleich brought a spectacular 0.79 ERA and five saves into this afternoon's contest and looked as if he could be headed toward another successful outing after striking out clean-up man Beau Mills to lead off the frame.  Then the wheels came off.

After Christian Vitters was hit by the pitch, Brian Lapin stepped to the plate and in arguably the at-bat of the game he grounded a ball to Chris Lewis at second base and in what could have been an inning-ending double play.  But the ground ball rolled under Lewis' glove and when the Cardinal second baseman raced back to pick up the ball, his hurried throw over to first in an attempt to get at least one out on the play bounced past Jason Castro.  Lewis was credited with two errors - one fielding to allow the hitter to reach and one throwing allowing both runners to move into scoring position.

Instead of Stanford coming to bat in the ninth inning with their one-run lead, the potential tying and go-ahead runners were in scoring position.  And Fresno State would capitalize.

Pinch-hitter Chase Moore took the very next pitch from Bleich and singled up the middle to score both runners for a 6-5 Fresno advantage - their first lead of the game.  Austin Yount relieved Bleich at this point in the contest and would eventually allow another one of Bleich's runners to score to make it a 7-5 contest.

FSU relief pitcher Jason Breckley quickly set down the Cardinal 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth inning to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.

Despite the loss, Stanford received a solid starting pitching performance from Matt Manship.  The senior right-hander brought a 6.55 ERA into today's game and had yet to pitch past the fifth inning in any of his starts.  Manship allowed a leadoff single to Steve Susdorf in the bottom of the first, but then went on to set down the next 11 Fresno State hitters before Mills doubled with two outs in the fourth.  Manship escaped the fourth inning without any runners coming across to score as the Texas native had thrown just 42 pitches on the afternoon up to that point.

Trailing 3-0, Fresno State finally got to Manship in the bottom of the fifth as Jared Halpert doubled with one out and scored two batters later on Erik Wetzel's clutch two-out single.  But Manship composed himself and retired the dangerous Susdorf on a routine fly ball to left field keeping Stanford in front by a pair of runs.

In the sixth, with the Cardinal now ahead 4-1, Manship quickly set down the first two hitters of the inning before issuing a full-count walk to Mills.  In a somewhat surprising move as Manship sat at just 76 pitches on the day, Marquess elected to bring in frosh lefty Sean Ratliff into the contest at this point.  Facing the left-handed hitting Vitters, Ratliff walked the Fresno shortstop putting a pair of runners on base.  Then Lapin singled to load the bases which forced another Stanford pitching change.

Nolan Gallagher was summoned into pitch and the sophomore right-hander, who has thrived throughout his Cardinal career when coming into tight spots in the middle of innings, struggled early on today.  And unfortunately for Stanford, it led to three runs and a 4-4 tie.

Pinch-hitter Ozzie Lewis greeted Gallagher with a single to plate one Fresno run.  Then another pinch-hitter in Ryan Overland delivered a huge two-strike single to right field scoring two more runners for a 4-4 tie.  Gallagher struck out Wetzel to retire the side, but the damage had already been done.

Stanford did respond to the Bulldogs scoring outburst though in the top of the seventh to re-take the lead.  Still facing starting pitcher Eddie Romero, Joey August got things started by drawing a four-pitch walk.  After Jim Rapoport sacrificed August to second base, Romero was removed from the game in favor of Breckley.  Senior shortstop Chris Minaker greeted Breckley rudely with a single into right center field easily scoring Rapoport to put the Cardinal back in front, 5-4.

Gallagher tossed a quick-and-easy scoreless bottom of the seventh before Bleich entered the game to start the eighth at which point Fresno rallied for three unearned runs.

Stanford took a 3-0 lead in this game with single runs in the first, fourth, and fifth innings against the lefty Romero.  In the first, three consecutive two-out singles from Minaker, Michael Taylor, and John Hester produced a run.

In the fourth, Taylor led off by drawing a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a Lewis clutch two-out single into left field.  Finally, in the fifth, slumping Ryan Seawell started the frame with a home run into left field - his first round-tripper of the season.

The Cardinal's fourth run of the game was scored in the top of the sixth inning when Brent Milleville smacked a one-out double into the left field corner and eventually scored on a Cord Phelps two-out single.

Stanford       1 0 0  1 1 1  1 0 0   -   5  10   2
Fresno State   0 0 0  0 1 3  0 3 X   -   7  10   0

Stanford            POS   AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Joey August          DH    4   1   0   0     1   2
Jim Rapoport         CF    4   0   1   0     0   1
Chris Minaker        SS    4   1   2   1     0   0
Michael Taylor       RF    3   1   1   0     0   0
John Hester           C    4   0   1   1     0   0
Brent Milleville     1B    3   1   1   0     0   0
 Jason Castro       PH/1B  1   0   0   0     0   0
Chris Lewis          2B    4   0   2   1     0   1
Cord Phelps          3B    4   0   1   1     0   1
Ryan Seawell         LF    3   1   1   1     0   1
 Randy Molina        PH    1   0   0   0     0   0

2B: Milleville
HR: Seawell (1st)
SB: Rapoport, Minaker
CS: Lewis
E: Lewis 2

                     IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Matt Manship        5.2   4   2   2   1   5
Sean Ratliff        0.0   1   2   2   1   0
Nolan Gallagher     1.1   3   0   0   0   2
Jeremy Bleich (L)   0.1   1   3   0   0   1
Austin Yount        0.2   1   0   0   0   0

Fresno State         POS   AB   R   H  RBI   BB  SO
Steve Susdorf         LF    5   0   1   0     0   1
Loren Storey          CF    4   0   1   0     0   1
Kent Sakamoto        1B/3B  4   0   0   0     0   2
Beau Mills            DH    3   1   1   0     1   1
Christian Vitters     SS    2   2   0   0     1   0
Brian Lapin           RF    4   2   1   0     0   0
Frank Lo Nigro         C    1   0   0   0     0   1
 Jared Halpert        PH    1   1   1   0     0   0
 Danny Grubb           C    0   0   0   0     0   0
 Ozzie Lewis          PH    1   0   1   1     0   0
 Gavin Hedstrom       3B    0   0   0   0     0   0
 Chase Moore          PH    1   0   1   2     0   0
 Nick Moresi          PR    0   1   0   0     0   0
 Doug Fister          1B    0   0   0   0     0   0
Adam O'Daniel         3B    2   0   0   0     0   1
 Ryan Overland       PH/C   1   0   1   2     0   0
Erik Wetzel           2B    4   0   2   2     0   1

2B: Mills, Halpert, Wetzel

                      IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Eddie Romero         6.1   9   5   5   2   4
Jason Breckley (W)   2.2   1   0   0   0   2

WP: Jason Breckley (1-0)
LP: Jeremy Bleich (1-1)

Records: Stanford (8-4), Fresno State (7-7)

* Stanford had their season-high four-game winning streak snapped with the loss.

* Taylor (six games) and Minaker (five games) both had hitting streaks extended.

* Lewis made the defensive misplay of the game, but did produce a multi-hit game at the plate finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and an RBI.  He also lined out sharply to third base.  Lewis is still the only regular hitting below the Mendoza Line, but his average has increased to .175 (7-for-40) on the year.

* Stanford finished the afternoon with ten hits.  It's the first time this season the Cardinal offense has recorded back-to-back double-digit hit totals (had 11 yesterday).  Stanford is hitting .299 as a team over their last five games (4-1 record).

* Fresno State used 17 different position players this afternoon - including eight in the #7 spot in the lineup.

* The rubber game of this series is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1:05 P.M.  Stanford has yet to officially announce a starting pitcher while Fresno State is expected to go with right-hander Andy Underwood (2-1, 1.99 ERA).  The Cardinal needs a victory to extend their series win streak over the Bulldogs to seven (last loss: 1999).

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