Missed Chances Prove Costly

While Friday's win over Cal was one of the most exciting of the year, Saturday's 5-1 defeat had to be one of the most difficult losses this season. Offensively, the Cardinal left 12 runners on base while also hitting into three double plays. The lack of a clutch hit proved costly as the Golden Bears drew even in this three-game series at Sunken Diamond. Here is a complete game recap.

While Friday's series-opening victory over California had to be one of the most exciting wins of the year, Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Golden Bears ranked right near the top in terms of most disappointing defeats of the '06 season.  It was a game that saw Stanford leave 12 runners on base while also hitting into three double plays.  It was a game that saw Cardinal pitchers issue 11 free passes (seven walks and four HBP's) to jump-start numerous Cal rallies.  And it was a game that again dropped Stanford back to the .500 mark.

While Friday's contest was about as clean a college baseball as you'll ever see, the same could definitely not be said for Saturday's affair.  Neither team committed any errors in the field, but a bevy of walks, hit by pitches, runners left on, and pitching changes made this contest often feeling like you were pulling teeth.

Stanford put runners on base in every inning except the first, but managed just one run against a trio of Cal pitchers.  To give the Bears credit, they did make a handful of fantastic defensive plays to keep them in front.  A beautifully turned 6-4-3 double play started by Allen Craig at shortstop on a second-inning Randy Molina hot-shot grounder ended a rally.  That certainly set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon.

Stanford's only run of the ballgame was in the bottom of the fourth when Chris Lewis drove home Chris Minaker with a line drive single into right center field.  Minaker and Michael Taylor started the frame with singles before Molina bunted both runners up 90 feet.  Then on an 0-2 pitch, Lewis recorded his single to tie the game at 1-1.

But then Jason Castro was robbed of another RBI hit when Craig made a diving stop on a ground ball and started yet another inning-ending twin-killing to keep the score tied.

Then in the fifth, Stanford threatened with runners on first and third with one out.  Now trailing by a 2-1 margin, Jim Rapoport lofted a routine fly ball to straightaway left field.  Chris Errecart made the catch and fired a strike to home plate to nab Brendan Domaracki, who was attempting to tag-up and score the tying run, for the third Cal double play in the first five innings.

The sixth inning was just as painful for Stanford fans as singles from Minaker and Molina started a rally.  With one out, both runners moved up on a wild pitch putting the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.  But back-to-back strikeouts of Lewis and Castro kept the Cardinal down by a 2-1 score.

California plated single runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings off of the Stanford bullpen to extend their lead.  In the seventh, Kyle Spraker led off by reaching on a Nolan Gallagher strike three, wild pitch.  After a sacrifice bunt, Gallagher hit Craig with a pitch before Errecart drew a walk.  Sean Ratliff then came in and retired the dangerous Brennan Boesch on a high chopping ground ball to second base, but Lewis had no play other than at first, and so a run scored.  A run that was set up due to wildness earlier in the inning.

Then in the eighth, Ratliff started things by allowing a single to Garrett Bussiere.  After a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch, new pitcher Max Fearnow issued a walk to pinch-hitter Taylor Grigsby to put a pair of runners on.  David Stringer was then summoned from the bullpen and the first man he faced, Rob Nesbitt, dropped down a perfect safety-squeeze bunt scoring Bussiere from third base with Cal's fourth run of the day.

A difficult top of the ninth pushed across their fifth and final run of the game.  The first three batters of the inning all reached safely against Stringer on a single, walk, and HBP respectively.  Austin Yount then became the sixth Stanford hurler of the afternoon and he would promptly plunk Mike Van Winden with a pitch to force home a run.  Yount did recover to retire Bussiere on a double play ground out and Stephen Carlson on a bouncer to Minaker keeping the deficit at 5-1.  But with the way Stanford was leaving runners on base this afternoon, it would be more than enough for the Bears.

Sure enough, the same problem came about in the bottom of the frame.  With two outs and nobody on, back-to-back singles from Ryan Seawell and Rapoport started a rally.  After Minaker drew a four-pitch walk, Taylor stepped to the plate representing the tying run.  But the Cardinal right fielder would ground out to first base on a 1-1 offering from closer Jeremy Burchett stranding three more Stanford runners and ending the game.

Matt Leva made the start on the mound and allowed just two runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings.  The junior right-hander surrendered single tallies in the third and fifth frames and was pulled with the bases loaded and two outs.  Gallagher replaced Leva at that point and set down Josh Satin on a ground out to keep Stanford within one run at 2-1.

California starter Tyson Ross was on his game as the freshman righty fired 7 1/3 quality innings with just the one run allowed.  His 115 pitch performance included eight strike outs and three walks.  Ross had overpowering stuff at times and certainly received some help from his defense to start the trio of pivotal inning-ending double plays.

California     0 0 1  0 1 0  1 1 1   -   5   6   0
Stanford       0 0 0  1 0 0  0 0 0   -   1   8   0

California           POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Rob Nesbitt           RF    1   1   1   1      1   0
Allen Craig           SS    3   0   1   0      1   1
Chris Errecart        LF    3   1   2   2      1   1
Brennan Boesch        CF    3   0   0   1      2   0
Josh Satin            3B    3   0   0   0      1   0
Mike Van Winden       1B    4   0   0   1      0   0
Garrett Bussiere       C    5   1   1   0      0   2
Jordan Karnofsky      DH    3   0   1   0      0   0
 Stephen Carlson     PH/DH  1   0   0   0      0   0
Kyle Spraker          2B    3   2   0   0      0   1
 Taylor Grigsby       PH    0   0   0   0      1   0
 Brett Munster        2B    0   0   0   0      0   0

2B: Nesbitt, Karnofsky

                        IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Tyson Ross (W)         7.1   6   1   1   3   8
Craig Bennigson        1.1   2   0   0   2   1
Jeremy Burchett (S)    0.1   0   0   0   0   0

Stanford             POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Ryan Seawell          CF    2   0   1   0      0   0
Jim Rapoport          LF    5   0   1   0      0   1
Chris Minaker         SS    3   1   2   0      2   1
Michael Taylor        RF    4   0   1   0      1   1
Randy Molina          3B    2   0   1   0      0   0
 Brent Milleville    PH/1B  1   0   0   0      0   1
Chris Lewis          2B/3B  3   0   1   1      1   2
Jason Castro          1B    2   0   0   0      1   1
 Stephen Brown        PH    1   0   0   0      0   0
 J.J. Jelmini         2B    0   0   0   0      0   0
Greg Reynolds         DH    0   0   0   0      0   0
 Brendan Domaracki   PH/DH  3   0   1   0      0   1
 Cord Phelps          PH    1   0   0   0      0   0
Brian Juhl             C    3   0   0   0      0   1

SB: Castro

                        IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Matt Leva (L)          4.2   4   2   2   3   2
Nolan Gallagher        1.2   0   1   1   1   2
Sean Ratliff           1.0   1   1   1   1   0
Max Fearnow            0.0   0   0   0   1   0
David Stringer         0.2   1   1   1   1   1
Austin Yount           1.0   0   0   0   0   0

WP: Tyson Ross (5-4)
LP: Matt Leva (2-1)
S: Jeremy Burchett (5)

Records: Stanford (21-21, 6-11), California (24-23, 9-11)

* Minaker, the only Cardinal player with a multi-hit output at the plate, extended his hitting streak to 12 games.  The senior shortstop increased his team-best batting average to .368.  He reached base safely in four out of his five plate appearances (two singles and two walks) after hitting two solo home runs plus a ninth-inning single last night.

* Seawell was hit by three pitches to take over the team lead in that category (10).

* The game saw the teams combine for four more sacrifice bunts (California 3, Stanford 1).

* The Bears took a 3-2 lead in the season-series with today's victory.  It was the first game played between the teams this year not decided by one run.

* After breaking out for 25 runs in their three-game series versus ASU, Stanford has been held in single digits in hits for all four games this week.

* Freshman infielder Stephen Brown made his collegiate debut in the bottom of the eighth inning.  Brown stepped to the plate in a 4-1 game with runners on first and second and two outs.  He flied out to center field to end the inning.

* The final game time clocked in at 3:46 - much longer than expected (due to all the baserunners and pitching changes) for a contest that saw only six total runs.

* The teams will play the rubber game of this series tomorrow afternoon at Sunken Diamond.  First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 P.M.  Neither team has announced a starting pitcher.

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