UC Davis Stuns Cardinal

This hasn't been the year for Stanford's major sports teams versus UC Davis. On Friday night, the baseball team suffered the same fate as both the football and men's basketball squads when the Aggies stunned the Cardinal, 3-0, in front of a season-high Sunken Diamond crowd on Senior Night. Davis' Michael Potter fired a three-hit gem on the mound to lead the Aggies to the series-opening victory.

Greg Reynolds threw a complete-game for the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night in what will very likely be his final performance ever at Sunken Diamond.  Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly enough to top Michael Potter and UC Davis as the Aggies stunned the Cardinal, 3-0, in the opener of a home-and-home series.  In front a season-high crowd of 3,362, Potter worked his magic all night limiting a Stanford offense to just three hits en route to recording the shutout.  The loss drops the Cardinal to 30-24 on the season with just a single game (at Davis on Saturday) remaining in the regular season.

Potter's dominance over the Stanford bats was especially impressive considering the Cardinal were in the midst of a three-week hot streak at the plate.  Not to mention it was Senior Night at Sunken Diamond plus Stanford is trying desperately to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.  Instead, Potter stole the show with an 111-pitch masterpiece that saw just four hitters reach base against him all evening.

The first nine batters of the night went down in order against Potter until Ryan Seawell led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a sharp single to right field.  John Hester followed with a bloop single into shallow center putting runners on first and second to set the table for Chris Minaker,  Trailing 2-0 at the time, Minaker stepped to the plate and lined a ball softly to second base only to see Daniel Descalso make a nice catch on the play.  Then when Seawell was multiple steps off the second base bag, Descalso calmly fired over to shortstop Matt Dempsey to complete the double play.  Michael Taylor then flied out to right field and that would be it for Stanford's best chance to score on the evening.

Potter continued to roll after the eventful bottom of the fourth setting down the Cardinal in order through the fifth, sixth, and seventh frames.  After back-to-back strikeouts to begin the eighth, Potter found himself in the midst of a stretch where he had retired 13 consecutive Stanford hitters.  Jason Castro broke up the streak with a clean single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, but he was promptly stranded when pinch-hitter Stephen Brown popped out to shortstop.

In the ninth, late-inning defensive replacement Cord Phelps drew a hard-earned leadoff walk, but Potter recovered to set down the next three hitters in order - Seawell on a deep fly to left and Hester and Minaker on routine fly outs - to seal the UC Davis victory.  All total, the senior lefty, who is the school's all-time leader in wins (26), walked just one batter on the night compared to five strikeouts.  He did an excellent job keeping the Cardinal hitters off balance all evening using a devastating fastball/change-up combination versus the bevy of right-handed bats that he faced.  Stanford only mustered the three hits and there were very few balls past that hit hard.  Potter looked every bit like the pitcher who beat #1 ranked Cal State Fullerton on the road last month.  The Cardinal can only hope for better luck against the rest of this pitching staff (which has a lofty 6.54 ERA and no other stable starters) on Saturday.

On the other side, Reynolds came through with yet another solid performance.  The junior right-hander also went the distance and recovered from a difficult top of the first inning to carve up the UC Davis lineup and keep Stanford in the game.

The first four batters of the initial frame reached base safely against Reynolds.  A leadoff double followed by a walk and a pair of singles produced one run for the Aggies.  To Reynolds' credit, he did an excellent job to limit the damage as UC Davis still had the bases loaded with none out with already one run across.  Only more run did score versus the Stanford ace in the first inning as a Jimmy Goetz bloop single to center plated the second tally of the frame.  The hit was sandwiched in between a pair of strikeouts while a groundout off the bat of Evan Hudson ended the rally to leave the bases loaded.

Reynolds went on to retire 11 consecutive batters spanning the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings.  After allowing a run on a two-out single in the top of the fifth, the hard-thrower set down nine more hitters in a row through the ninth.

The Pacifica native struck out nine compared to just one walk as part of a 120-pitch effort.  He allowed eight hits and three earned runs, but saw his record fall to 6-5 (3.47 ERA).  With a first round draft selection a very real possibility for Reynolds in a few weeks, Friday's game was likely the last time he'll pitch off the Sunken Diamond mound wearing the Cardinal and White.

It was also the final home game for four seniors as John Hester, Chris Lewis, Matt Manship, and Chris Minaker were honored in a ceremony prior to the start of the contest.  The quartet was part of one College World Series team (2003) and thus far three NCAA Tournament clubs.

Other notables from Friday's contest saw Castro extend his career-high hitting streak to 12 games.  Minaker's ten-game streak came to an end.  Meanwhile, the final game time registered a brisk two hours and seven minutes.

It remains to be seen what kind of an effect this loss will have on Stanford's hopes for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.  The Cardinal maintained their fifth place standing (now tied with two other clubs) in the conference race with two days remaining of Pac-10 competition.  A win on Saturday in Davis would still give the Cardinal an overall strong finish to the regular season (12 wins in last 16 games under that scenario).  However, Friday's defeat will likely see Stanford suffer a significant blow to their RPI computer ranking.  The Aggies entered tonight's game with a horrific 199 rating thus giving the Cardinal a truly bad loss on their tournament resume.  A win Saturday would help matters, but this loss was a bad one on many levels (both with the RPI ranking and the timing) for the Stanford baseball team.

UC Davis     2 0 0  0 0 1  0 0 0   -   3   8   0
Stanford     0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 0   -   0   3   0

WP: Michael Potter (5-3)
LP: Greg Reynolds (6-5)

Records: Stanford (30-24), UC Davis (17-34)

* The Cardinal and Aggies will conclude this two-game series in Davis on Saturday afternoon.  First pitch is slated for 2:00 P.M.  UC Davis will send to the mound right-hander Vince DeCoito (1-3, 6.44) while Stanford has not yet officially announced a starting pitcher.  Nolan Gallagher (4-3, 2.52) would figure to be the most likely candidate after his complete-game victory at UCLA last weekend.


PAC-10 UPDATE

                   Conf.    GB   Overall
Oregon State       16-6     -    39-13
Arizona State      12-10   4.0   34-19
UCLA               12-10   4.0   31-23
USC                11-11   5.0   25-31
Stanford           11-13   6.0   30-24
Washington State   10-12   6.0   36-21
Arizona            10-12   6.0   25-28
Washington          9-13   7.0   34-25
California          9-13   7.0   26-26

Friday's Scores:
* Arizona 10, at USC 5
(Ian Kennedy shelled as Trojans drop eighth straight)

* at Arizona State 13, California 5
(Sun Devils rock Brandon Morrow as ASU makes a case to host a regional next week)

* at Oregon State 9, UCLA 2
(Beavers get easy win to clinch outright Pac-10 title for second straight year)

* Washington State 3, at Washington 2
(Cougars able to overcome Tim Lincecum's 14 strikeouts to notch series-opening win)

UC Davis 3, at Stanford 0


* - Pac-10 game

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