Card Lose Fifth Series In A Row

At the halfway point of the Pac-10 season, the Cardinal find themselves in sole possession of last place with a dreadful 3-9 record. After Sunday's 12-3 blowout loss at Arizona, Stanford has now dropped five consecutive series'. Very little has gone right in recent weeks for the Cardinal as Sunday again saw subpar performances from the offense, the pitching, and the defense. Here is a complete game recap.

The decline of Stanford Baseball spanning the last two seasons has been stunning.  Just two years ago, the Cardinal had a ballclub that spent most of the regular season ranked #1 in the country en route to a spectacular 44-12 record.  Last season saw Stanford fall slightly as they managed just 32 regular season victories.  Still, the Cardinal featured a pair of first round draft picks in their lineup and a bevy of close losses meaning that Stanford was competitive nearly every time they took the field.  Stanford's drop last year may have been tough to take at times, but the Cardinal still put on a charge in June advancing all the way to the championship game of the Waco Regional before falling in extra innings.  Now in 2006, Stanford is headed well toward not coming close to qualifying for the postseason.  An absolute amazing drop of production in a matter of just two seasons.

Stanford entered this weekend's matchup down in Arizona in dire need of a series win.  Things started well for the Cardinal as they posted a 10-6 win Friday night.  They held a lead at the midpoint of Saturday's contest before the Wildcats broke out late en route to a 14-4 victory.  Still, Stanford had a chance to claim a series victory with a win on Sunday.  A chance to notch their first series win in nearly two months.  And a chance to gain some positive momentum heading into the second half of the Pac-10 season.

Instead, the Cardinal made Arizona, the only team in the conference with a sub-.500 overall record, look like a College World Series contender.  The Wildcats blasted Stanford by a 12-3 score on a warm Sunday afternoon in Tucson sending the Cardinal to a dismal 3-9 Pac-10 record.  Stanford finds themselves in sole possession of last place in the conference at the midpoint of the schedule while their overall record has fallen to an even 17-17. 

Sunday's series finale was a competitive contest through the first 5 1/2 frames.  Arizona held onto a slim 3-2 advantage before erupting for three runs in the sixth, five in the seventh, and one more in the eighth.  The finish was strikingly similar to Saturday's ballgame that saw the Wildcats score 11 unanswered runs to finish the contest.  On Sunday, Arizona scored nine of the game's final ten runs for the convincing win.

Matt Manship and five Cardinal relievers all struggled although they again received very little help from their defense.  Stanford committed a season-high four errors including a pair of miscues in the pivotal bottom of the seventh that saw Arizona break the game open.

In his first five innings, Manship allowed just two earned runs (three total) in keeping Stanford close.  However in the bottom of the sixth, a one-out single from Konrad Schmidt followed by a four-pitch walk to #9 hitter T.J. Steele ended the senior's afternoon.  David Stringer, who threw three stressful innings just two days ago (50 total pitches), was summoned into the contest.  After not allowing a run on Friday to record his first career save, it would be a completely different story for the sophomore today. 

Stringer allowed an RBI single to the first man he faced, Brad Boyer, extending the lead to 4-2.  Then Colt Sedbrook smoked a triple into left field scoring both Steele and Boyer for a 6-2 advantage.  Just like that, Stringer was taken out and the merry-go-round ensued.

Reliever Sean Ratliff managed to finish the bottom of the sixth without further damage, but that wouldn't hold up in the seventh.  After a leadoff single, Ratliff was removed from the game in favor of Nolan Gallagher.  Gallagher retired the first man he faced and then got Derek Decater to hit a ground ball to third base.  But instead of a potential inning-ending double play, third baseman Austin Yount saw the ball roll under his glove and out into left field for a costly two-base error. 

Schmidt followed with a two-run double to make it 8-2 before a walk and another single produced Arizona's ninth run of the game.  That single was then mishandled by Jim Rapoport out in left field allowing yet another run to come across and score.

Erik Davis was the next pitcher of the inning for Stanford and it wouldn't get much better as the first man he faced, Sedbrook, drove home UA's 11th tally of the day with a single.

Eventually, Blake Holler was called into pitch to finish the frame.  However, the junior lefty would give up a run of his own in the bottom of the eighth to cap the scoring for the Wildcats.

The last two games have been particularly discouraging for the Cardinal pitching staff having surrendered a total of 26 runs.  It's been especially painful considering it's come against an Arizona offense that, much like Stanford, has struggled for the better part of this season.

Manship was officially tagged with the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.  The senior is now just 1-5 on the season with a 5.48 ERA.

Offensively, Stanford managed just one hit in the first five innings against Arizona starter David Coulon.  Coulon, who is only in the starting rotation because of injury issues on their pitching staff, entered the game with a lofty 7.00 ERA.  His defense committed three errors behind him in the initial five innings, but to his credit, he managed to pitch around any trouble to keep Stanford off the scoreboard. 

The Cardinal finally struck for a pair of runs in the top of the sixth when three straight singles from Chris Minaker, Michael Taylor, and Chris Lewis led to a score.  Taylor later scored on a Brent Milleville sacrifice fly to deep right field.  At the time, Stanford was down just 3-2.  They would get no closer.

Stanford    0 0 0  0 0 2  1 0 0   -   3   6   4
Arizona     0 0 1  1 1 3  5 1 X   -  12  15   3

Stanford          POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Ryan Seawell       CF    3   0   1   0      1   1
John Hester         C    4   0   0   0      0   0
Chris Minaker      SS    4   1   2   1      0   0
Michael Taylor     RF    4   1   1   0      0   1
Chris Lewis        2B    4   0   1   1      0   0
Brent Milleville   1B    2   0   0   1      1   1
Greg Reynolds      DH    0   0   0   0      0   0
 Brian Juhl       PH/DH  2   0   0   0      1   1
 Randy Molina      PH    1   0   0   0      0   0
Jim Rapoport       LF    3   0   0   0      0   0
 Joey August       LF    1   0   0   0      0   0
Austin Yount       3B    4   1   1   0      0   1

2B: Yount
SB: Milleville
E: Yount 2, Milleville, Rapoport

                      IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Matt Manship (L)     5.1   7   5   4   2   3
David Stringer       0.0   2   1   1   0   0
Sean Ratliff         0.2   1   1   1   0   0
Nolan Gallagher      0.1   2   4   2   1   1
Erik Davis           0.1   1   0   0   0   0
Blake Holler         1.1   2   1   1   0   1



Arizona            POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Brad Boyer          2B    4   3   2   2      0   0
Colt Sedbrook       3B    4   1   3   3      1   0
David Plante        LF    3   0   0   1      0   1
 Hunter Pace        LF    0   0   0   0      0   0
Jason Donald        SS    5   0   2   1      0   0
Bill Rhinehart      RF    5   3   3   1      0   1
Brad Glenn          1B    5   0   1   0      0   1
Derek Decater       DH    4   1   0   0      0   1
 Travis Peep        PH    1   0   1   1      0   0
Konrad Schmidt       C    5   2   3   1      0   1
T.J. Steele         CF    2   2   0   0      2   0

2B: Rhinehart, Schmidt
3B: Sedbrook
HR: Rhinehart (2nd)
SB: Boyer, Sedbrook
CS: Peep
E: Donald 3

                      IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
David Coulon (W)     6.0   5   3   3   3   4
Ryan Perry (S)       3.0   1   0   0   0   2



WP: David Coulon (2-3)
LP: Matt Manship (1-5)
S: Ryan Perry (1)

Records: Stanford (17-17, 3-9), Arizona (17-20, 5-7)


Notes:
* With today's defeat, the Cardinal have now dropped five consecutive series' (at USC, vs. Washington State, vs. USC, at Oregon State, at Arizona).  Their last series win came at Fresno State, February 24th-26th.  The streak is Stanford's longest since they dropped their final six series' of 1993, as well as their first series in 1994.

* Stanford is in sole possession of last place in the conference with a 3-9 record.  Arizona (5-7) and Washington State (5-7) both sit two games ahead of the Cardinal.  California (6-8) also sits under the .500 mark with a game still in progress this afternoon in Berkeley versus first-place Oregon State.

* The only multi-hit game from a Stanford player came from the shortstop Minaker.  The senior rapped out two hits in four at-bats while also picking-up his team-leading 37th RBI.

* Stanford's team batting average fell to .266, which would be the lowest in Mark Marquess' 30 years as head coach if the season ended today (.274, 1980).  Their team ERA has also ballooned up to 4.60 - their highest since 1997 (4.76).

* It was a particularly difficult afternoon for John Hester.  The senior catcher grounded into three double plays as part of an 0-for-4 game.  Down 2-0 in the top of the fifth, Hester stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and one out.  He hit into a 5-3 DP to end the rally.  Then in the seventh, with Stanford trailing 6-3, he batted with again runners on first and second - but this time with none out.  Unfortunately, it was the same result as Hester hit a ground ball right back to the pitcher's mound that was turned into a 1-6-3 twin-killing.

* Stanford has gone just 8-13 in their last 21 games after an impressive 9-4 first month of the season against standout competition.

* The Cardinal return to action on Tuesday evening with a single non-conference game versus the Santa Clara Broncos.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 P.M. at Sunken Diamond.  Stanford will then welcome the 10th ranked Arizona State Sun Devils to town for a three-game series beginning Friday night.

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