Baseball Edges Sac State

Despite having few available arms at their disposal and playing the day after a 15-inning marathon, the Cardinal managed a narrow 5-4 victory over Sacramento State on Wednesday afternoon. On a warm day at Hornet Field, two Stanford relievers combined to silence the Sac State bats over the final six frames while Brian Juhl delivered the biggest hit of the game at the plate.

Playing their fifth game in the last six days and coming off a 15-inning marathon at Santa Clara the previous night, it was to be expected if Stanford showed some signs of fatigue this afternoon at Hornet Field.  However, the Cardinal got just enough offensively and received some excellent relief work from a pair of hurlers to post a 5-4 victory over Sacramento State on Wednesday.  The win was Stanford's fifth in their last six games and improves their overall record to 24-21.

Blake Holler made the start on the mound for Stanford and unfortunately for the junior lefty, it would be another rocky appearance.  Holler has found himself buried in the Cardinal bullpen this year thanks to an 8.47 ERA and a .380 opponents average in 17 innings pitched.  With all of the games played this past week combined with last night's extra-inning affair though, Holler was given an opportunity as a starter at Hornet Field today. 

The Stanford bats gave Holler a 3-0 lead before he even took to the mound, but the southpaw quickly gave it up allowing three runs of his own in the bottom of the first.  After a quick two outs, the Hornets put together four consecutive hits capped off by Jim Strombach's triple down the right field line scoring a pair of runs for a 3-3 tie.

After a scoreless bottom of the second from Holler, Stanford moved back in front with a single tally in the top of the third.  But the struggles for Holler would continue in the bottom of the frame.  #3 hitter Buddy Morales led off with a double and was then sacrificed to third base on a bunt.  David Flores was up next and the Hornet third baseman connected for a double to easily score Morales with the tying run. 

After surrendering six hits in just 2 1/3 innings, Holler was removed from the contest and the Cardinal bullpen took over.  David Stringer and Austin Yount combined to fire 6 2/3 scoreless frames with just two hits allowed to conclude the game for Stanford and seal the victory.  Brian Juhl smacked a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning for the game's final run and it would hold up thanks to the relief work of Stringer and Yount.

Stringer didn't strike out a single batter during his lengthy stint on the mound and sometimes struggled with his control, but the sophomore proved very difficult to hit and always found a way to work out of trouble.  In fact, Sacramento State put runners on base in each of Stringer's five full innings, but never managed to come through with a basehit with a man in scoring position.

Stringer has struggled of late out of the bullpen and while he wasn't nearly as overpowering this afternoon compared to some of his performances in the first half of the year, it was still a giant step back in the right direction.  Due to his 81 pitches thrown today, it's unlikely Stringer will see much action up in Seattle this weekend (Sunday being the possible exception), but the Palo Alto native could still play a major role in some big spots down the stretch in future games for the Cardinal.

Meanwhile, Yount came on in the bottom of the ninth and worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning to slam the door on the Hornets.  The freshman quickly fell behind the first man he faced, Everet Rincon, 3-0, but came back with a pair of strikes before getting the batter to fly out to center field.  Yount then settled in to record a strikeout and a routine groundout to finish the game. 

The home run for Juhl proved to be the game-winning hit on this afternoon.  The sophomore catcher, who has filled in for the injured John Hester (missed his fifth straight game with an infection in his knee), produced the biggest game of his career.  In the top of the third, Juhl ripped a two-out RBI single into left field to score Chris Lewis to give Stanford a temporary 4-3 lead.  Then in the sixth, he stepped to the plate with two outs and nobody on and promptly blasted a 2-0 offering from Travis Kane over the wall in right for a solo homer.  It was Juhl's first career round-tripper at the collegiate level.

Stanford's early three-run outburst was thanks to more clutch hitting from the bottom of the order.  A leadoff single from Ryan Seawell got things started in the first inning.  After he was bunted to second by Jim Rapoport, Chris Minaker was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on.  Clean-up man Michael Taylor then grounded a single into left field scoring Seawell for a 1-0 Cardinal lead.  A walk to Lewis loaded the bases and after Randy Molina struck out, Brent Milleville lined a single into left field.  The impressive two-out hit scored both Minaker and Taylor for a three-run cushion.

Stanford          3 0 1  0 0 1  0 0 0   -   5   8   0
Sacramento State  3 0 1  0 0 0  0 0 0   -   4   8   2

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

HR: Juhl (1st)

                          IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Blake Holler             2.1   6   4   4   1   1
David Stringer (W)       5.2   2   0   0   3   0
Austin Yount (S)         1.0   0   0   0   0   1



Sacramento State     POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Ronnie Machado, Jr.   LF    3   0   0   0      1   0
 Brian Conradi        PH    1   0   0   0      0   1
Patrick Cummins       2B    2   0   0   0      1   1
 Gary Johnson        PH/2B  2   0   0   0      0   0
Buddy Morales          C    2   2   2   0      1   0
Devin Spurling        1B    3   1   1   0      0   0
 Brian Blauser        1B    0   0   0   0      0   0
David Flores          3B    4   0   3   2      0   0
Jim Strombach         CF    3   0   1   2      0   0
Montana Dye           RF    3   0   0   0      1   0
Josh Levin            DH    3   0   0   0      0   0
 Pat Keiper           PH    1   0   0   0      0   0
Everet Rincon         SS    4   0   1   0      0   0

2B: Morales, Flores
3B: Strombach
SB: Strombach
CS: Rincon
E: Schlager, Wheeler

                           IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
John Schlager             2.0   3   3   3   1   2
Mel Cuckovich             2.0   2   1   1   1   1
Travis Kane (L)           2.0   1   1   1   0   1
Chris Mols                1.0   1   0   0   0   0
Cyrus Sarraf              1.0   0   0   0   0   0
James Wheeler             1.0   1   0   0   0   0


WP: David Stringer (3-4)
LP: Travis Kane (3-5)
S: Austin Yount (1)

Records: Stanford (24-21), Sacramento State (20-29)


Notes:
* The Cardinal have won five out of six and are three games over .500 overall for the first time since April 13th (15-12).

* Stanford swept the two-game season-series with Sacramento State.  The Cardinal won a 12-5 decision over the Hornets at Sunken Diamond on April 18th.

* The save for Yount was the first of his collegiate career.  The Arizona native has the lowest ERA on the club at 1.98 - albeit in just 13 2/3 innings.

* Lewis saw his modest six-game hitting streak come to an end with his 0-for-2 performance at the plate.  He did draw a pair of walks score one run.

* In addition to hitting his first career home run this afternoon, Juhl also collected the first RBI of his Stanford career (on the third-inning single).  Juhl is now hitting .267 (8-for-30) on the year.

* Grant Escue, who delivered the clutch two-run double in the 12th inning last night coming off the bench, grounded into a fielder's choice as pinch-hitter this afternoon in the top of the ninth.  It was the first time Escue had been retired this year in three plate appearances (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI).

* Holler saw his season ERA balloon up to 9.31 (20 ER/19.1 IP) with today's rocky performance.

* The game was played in front of just 106 spectators at Hornet Field - the smallest crowd to witness a Stanford game this season.

* Stanford returns to action on Friday night when they open a crucial three-game series at Washington.  First pitch at Husky Ballpark is scheduled for 6:30 P.M.  Red-hot Greg Reynolds (5-3, 3.49 ERA) figures to get the start on the mound for the Cardinal while Washington is expected to counter with National Player of the Year candidate and potential #1 pick in the draft Tim Lincecum (11-2, 1.93 ERA, 169 SO in 102 IP).

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