Card Take Series From Bears

Erik Davis worked out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the top of the ninth inning to secure a 6-4 victory for Stanford over rival California on Sunday afternoon. On a warm day at Sunken Diamond, the Cardinal received outstanding relief work from Jeremy Bleich before Davis slammed the door in the ninth. Meanwhile, Chris Lewis led the offense with three RBI as Stanford took the rubber game of the series.

Jeremy Bleich was rolling along during the late innings Sunday afternoon as Stanford appeared destined for a series victory over the California Golden Bears.  After four consecutive scoreless frames, Bleich took to the mound in the top of the ninth with the Cardinal in front by a 6-3 margin.  But after retiring pinch-hitter Garrett Bussiere on a ground out to begin the inning, things began to unravel thus leading to some stressful and intense final moments.

Bleich walked Travis Howell on four pitches before falling behind #9 hitter Brett Munster 2-0.  At that point, Coach Marquess had seen enough as Bleich was approaching 60 pitches on the day and a handful of capable relievers were rested and ready to go out of the bullpen.  Lefty Sean Ratliff was summoned into pitch and he quickly fired strike one before issuing two more balls for another walk.  Free passes to the #8 and #9 hitters was certainly not what Stanford had in mind with numerous potent hitters coming up next.

Ratliff followed the walk (officially charged to Bleich) by allowing a well-struck single to left off the bat of Rob Nesbitt to score Howell with California's fourth run of the game.  That prompted another pitching change as Erik Davis, who had yet to see any action in this series, was brought into the contest.

Davis' first task was facing Cal's leading hitter Allen Craig and the Bears shortstop took a 1-1 pitch and bounced it to deep shortstop for an infield single.  Chris Minaker gloved the ball cleanly, but had no play anywhere on the infield as Cal loaded the bases with still just one out.

#3 hitter Chris Errecart, with two hits already on the afternoon, was up next, but it would take Davis just one pitch to retire Errecart and seal the victory for Stanford.  The sophomore righty induced Errecart to ground a ball right to Randy Molina at third base.  Molina never hesitated in firing home to record the force out before Brian Juhl made a perfect turn over to first to nab Errecart for the double play.  The sequence locked up a 6-4 Cardinal victory and sent a Sunken Diamond season-high crowd of 2,586 home happy.

Missed opportunities at the plate was the main theme of Saturday's loss for Stanford, but that wouldn't be an issue on this day.  In the bottom of the third while trailing 1-0, DH Brent Milleville led off by drawing a walk before Juhl slammed a double to deep right field moving Milleville over to third base.  The Cardinal then caught a break as a passed ball from the catcher Howell plated Milleville before Ryan Seawell flied out to left field to score Juhl for a 2-1 lead.

Then with the game tied at 2-2, Stanford struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead for good.  Molina started the rally with a single before second baseman Chris Lewis stepped to the plate and smoked a 2-2 offering from Alex Rollin over the fence in center field for a home run.  It was Lewis' fourth round-tripper of the year and it gave the Cardinal a two-run cushion.

Matt Manship made the start on the mound for Stanford and surrendered eight hits and three runs in four-plus innings of work.  Manship only walked one batter, but gave up a good number of hits - some of which were tough-luck ground balls that found holes on the infield.  That said, the senior right-hander was unable to finish the top of the fifth as Craig led off with a solo homer to left cutting the Stanford lead to 4-3.  After Errecart singled, Bleich was summoned from the bullpen.

It would initially be a rocky beginning for Bleich as he was greeted by a Brennan Boesch double to put a pair of runners (the potential tying and go-ahead tallies) into scoring position.  But the cool freshman was able to bear down with some help from poor Cal baserunning.

Josh Satin was up next and he would ground a ball right to Molina at third base.  Errecart attempted to score on the play, but Molina fired home and after a brief rundown, the runner was tagged out by Juhl.  At that point, Boesch was caught in between second and third and Juhl managed to flip the ball to Lewis who eventually tagged out Boesch near third base for an unorthodox double play.  Mike Van Winden followed with a routine ground out to shortstop to keep Stanford in front, 4-3.

The Cardinal added single runs in the sixth and eighth innings to extend their lead.  In the sixth, Michael Taylor led off with a single and scored three batters later on a Jason Castro fielder's choice ground out.  Castro just managed to beat the relay throw to first base on what would have been an inning-ending double play.

Then in the eighth, again Taylor got things started when he blasted a one-out double to deep right center field.  After moving to third on a wild pitch, Taylor eventually scored on Lewis' clutch two-out single into center field.

Bleich was credited with the victory as the freshman fired 4 1/3 innings with just one run and two hits allowed.  He fired scoreless top of the sixth, seventh, and eighth frames with just one total hit surrendered.

With the win, the Cardinal notched their second straight Pac-10 series victory and improved their conference record to 7-11.  Stanford's overall mark now sits at 22-21.  California, which has an RPI rating in the 80's (over 30 places lower than the Cardinal) saw their NCAA Tournament hopes take a severe blow with this afternoon's loss.  The Bears (24-24, 9-12) have only one conference series remaining - at nationally ranked Arizona State in three weeks.

California     0 1 0  1 1 0  0 0 1   -   4  12   1
Stanford       0 0 2  2 0 1  0 1 X   -   6   8   3

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

2B: Boesch
HR: Craig (10th)
E: Craig

                         IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Alex Rollin (L)         3.2   4   4   3   1   3
Chris Petrini           2.1   1   1   0   0   2
Matt Gorgen             1.1   1   1   1   1   2
Craig Bennigson         0.1   0   0   0   0   0
Jeremy Burchett         0.0   2   0   0   0   0
Alex Trafton            0.1   0   0   0   0   0

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

2B: Taylor, Juhl
HR: Lewis (4th)
E: Minaker, Taylor, Molina

                          IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Matt Manship             4.0   8   3   3   1   3
Jeremy Bleich (W)        4.1   2   1   1   2   0
Sean Ratliff             0.0   1   0   0   0   0
Erik Davis (S)           0.2   1   0   0   0   0

WP: Jeremy Bleich (3-4)
LP: Alex Rollin (0-1)
S: Erik Davis (2)

Records: Stanford (22-21, 7-11), California (24-24, 9-12)

* For the second straight year, Stanford and California will split the season-series at 3-3.  With today's win, the Cardinal avoided a season-series loss to the Golden Bears for the first time since 1978 (Marquess' second year).

* Minaker saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end after finishing 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.  The shortstop also committed an error in the field for the first time in 16 games.

* Stanford has won consecutive Pac-10 series' for the first time this year.  They last accomplished the feat in May, 2004.

* The save for Davis was his second of the year.  The first came on March 10th (at USC) when he also worked out of a bases loaded, one out jam to preserve a Cardinal victory.

* Molina committed his first error of the season at third base - a fielding miscue in the top of the third.

* Stanford recorded a season-high four double plays in the field.

* Stanford has only two more home games remaining on the schedule - Tuesday, May 16th versus Santa Clara and Friday, May 26th versus UC Davis.  Ten of their final 12 regular season games will be played on the road including five this upcoming week.

* Despite the win, the Cardinal are still in last place with their 7-11 conference record.  They're just a 1/2 game back of California (9-12) and Arizona (6-9) for seventh, 2 1/2 games behind Arizona State (8-7) and UCLA (8-7) for third place, and three full games back of USC (10-8) for second best in the conference.  Stanford has six games remaining (at Washington, at UCLA) on their Pac-10 schedule.

* The Cardinal are back in action on Tuesday evening when they travel down the 101 to take on the Santa Clara Broncos.  First pitch at Schott Stadium is scheduled for 6:00 P.M.  Stanford will then head to the Central Valley for a single non-conference at Sacramento State on Wednesday (2:30 P.M.).

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