Postseason Off To A Good Start

After barely qualifiying for the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal proved they belonged on Friday. Behind a complete-game from Greg Reynolds and a 14-hit offensive attack, third-seeded Stanford defeated #2 N.C. State, 7-2, in the opening round. Reynolds went the distance for the fifth time this year while the bottom portion of the Cardinal lineup led the way.

Greg Reynolds has a history of coming through in big games and Friday was no different.  The ace right-hander received five runs of offensive support in the first two innings and never looked back in leading the Cardinal to a regional-opening 7-2 victory over N.C. State.  Reynolds threw his fifth complete game in his last six starts as Stanford advances to the winners bracket of the Austin Regional.  The Cardinal will face the winner of this afternoon's Texas versus UT-Arlington contest on Saturday at 1:00 P.M. (PDT).

The Cardinal offense wasted little time jumping all over Wolfpack #1 starter Gib Hobson.  Hobson entered the contest with a 9-1 record and a 4.60 ERA after a complete-game victory over highly ranked North Carolina in the ACC Tournament last week.  Hobson received some help from his defense to begin the game when Ryan Seawell belted a deep fly ball to center field that was caught by Matt Camp as he collided with the wall.  But the next two batters would find holes to set the table for Stanford's first run of the day.

Red-hot DH Grant Escue smacked a sharp single into center field before a Chris Minaker double put a pair of runners in scoring position.  Clean-up man Michael Taylor was up next and with the infield playing back, the sophomore grounded a ball to shortstop that easily scored Escue for a 1-0 lead.  Chris Lewis followed with a strikeout to end the rally.

The Cardinal took control of the contest with four runs in the top of the second knocking Hobson out of the game.  A walk to Jason Castro started the frame before John Hester lined a single into left center field.  Randy Molina was then asked to bunt and the sophomore third baseman dropped down a perfect sacrifice moving Castro and Hester to third and second base respectively.

The bunt was significant as Coach Marquess was showing a tremendous amount of confidence in #9 hitter Jim Rapoport.  Rapoport has struggled at the plate for the majority of the season posting a .239 average entering NCAA Tournament play.  But the move paid off as Rapoport worked the count full and then got a 3-2 pitch up in the zone that he rifled into deep right center field.  Neither outfielder had a chance as the ball took one high hop off the astroturf and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.  Castro and Hester both scored giving Stanford a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinal weren't done though.  After Seawell struck out, Escue bounced a single through the middle to score Rapoport for the third run of the frame.  That prompted a pitching change as Hobson exited the contest in favor of lefty Jason Duncan.  Initially, Duncan wouldn't fare any better than his teammate as back-to-back singles from Minaker and Taylor greeted the southpaw extending Stanford's lead to 5-0.

Duncan would calm the storm though putting zeros up on the scoreboard in the third, fourth, and fifth innings.  But the damage had already been done.

Reynolds struggled early with his control issuing a walk in the first inning (eventually erased on a double play) before a single and a walk started the bottom of the second.  That proved to be the pivotal inning for Reynolds as he rebounded from the sluggish start to get Ryan Pond to ground into a 1-6-3 double play before Caleb Mangum grounded out to second base ending the bottom of the second.

Reynolds then went on to retire the Wolfpack in order through the third, fourth, and fifth innings.  After he set down the first two batters of the sixth, it gave the towering right-hander a string of 13 consecutive N.C. State hitters retired in a row.  Reynolds never went to a three-ball count during that stretch while racking up five strikeouts.  Three straight sixth-inning two-out singles from Camp, Ramon Corona, and Adam Bates produced one run, but Reynolds quickly stopped the bleeding the keep Stanford comfortably in front.

The Cardinal's last two runs of the game came with single tallies in the sixth and ninth innings.  The top of the sixth saw Molina lead off with a single followed by a Rapoport double off of the wall.  Three batters later, Molina scored on a Minaker sacrifice fly.

Then in the ninth, Hester delivered a clutch two-out, RBI single scoring Lewis who had earlier reached on an error.  All total, the Cardinal pounded out 14 hits against seven different N.C. State pitchers.

Reynolds cruised through the late innings as well.  A one-out single from Camp in the bottom of the eighth scored N.C. State's second run of the afternoon.  But Camp was quickly erased on another 1-6-3 double play.  Then in the ninth, Bates led off with a single, but Reynolds set down the next three hitters in order to seal the victory for the Cardinal.

Reynolds walked just two batters (none past the second inning) compared to seven strikeouts.  He threw 122 pitches as his season record improves to 7-5.

Stanford       1 4 0  0 0 1  0 0 1   -   7  14   0
N.C. State     0 0 0  0 0 1  0 1 0   -   2   7   2

Stanford            POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Ryan Seawell         CF    4   0   1   0      0   1
Grant Escue          DH    5   2   2   1      0   1
Chris Minaker        SS    4   0   2   1      0   0
Michael Taylor       RF    4   0   1   2      1   0
Chris Lewis          2B    5   1   0   0      0   3
Jason Castro         1B    4   1   0   0      1   1
John Hester           C    5   1   2   1      0   0
Randy Molina         3B    3   1   3   0      0   0
Jim Rapoport         LF    4   1   3   2      0   0

2B: Rapoport 2, Minaker

                        IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Greg Reynolds (W)      9.0   7   2   2   2   7

N.C. State          POS   AB   R   H  RBI    BB  SO
Matt Camp            CF    3   1   2   1      1   0
Ramon Corona         2B    4   0   1   0      0   0
Aaron Bates          1B    4   0   2   1      0   0
Jon Still            DH    4   0   1   0      0   1
Brian Aragon         RF    3   0   0   0      1   1
Ryan Pond            LF    2   0   0   0      0   1
 Chris Engle        PH/LF  2   0   0   0      0   1
Caleb Mangum          C    3   0   0   0      0   1
Jonathan Diaz        SS    3   0   0   0      0   1
Drew Martin          3B    2   0   0   0      0   0
 Matt Mangini       PH/3B  1   1   1   0      0   0

3B: Mangini
SB: Bates
E: Mangini, Hobson

                        IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Gib Hobson (L)         1.2   5   5   5   1   2
Jason Duncan           3.2   6   1   1   0   4
Travis High            0.2   0   0   0   0   0
Branden Knapp          1.0   2   0   0   0   0
Kyle Rutter            1.0   0   0   0   0   0
Joel Brookens          0.1   0   1   0   1   0
Joey Cutler            0.2   1   0   0   0   0

WP: Greg Reynolds (7-5)
LP: Gib Hobson (9-2)

Records: Stanford (31-25), N.C. State (38-22)

* The 8-9 combo of Molina and Rapoport went 6-for-7 with two doubles, two RBI.

* Reynolds, who has thrown 120 2/3 innings on the year, lowered his ERA to 3.36.

* Seawell extended his hitting streak to seven games - the longest active streak for any Cardinal player.

* Escue has recorded multi-hit games in each of his last five starts.

* The Cardinal turned three double plays - two that ended innings.

* This was the first ever meeting between Stanford and N.C. State.

* The Cardinal are next in action on Saturday afternoon versus the winner of the Texas versus UT-Arlington game.  First pitch at Disch-Falk Field is scheduled for 1:00 P.M. (PDT).  The game will be televised live on ESPNU.

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