Cardinal Hold Off Defending Champs

A John Hester grand slam in the bottom of the second inning gave Stanford a lead they would not relinquish on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinal managed to hold off a late Texas rally to defeat the Longhorns by a 12-8 score at Disch-Falk Field. The win moves Stanford into the championship game of the Austin Regional as they next play either N.C. State or the Longhorns on Sunday at 2:00 P.M. (PDT).

Saturday's winners bracket game versus the Texas Longhorns got off to about the worst start possible for the Cardinal.  The defending national champions, playing as the visiting team, struck for three runs on four hits against starter Nolan Gallagher in the top of the first inning.  The three runs all scored on a controversial call when Carson Kainer smacked a ball down the third base line and into the corner to clear the bases.  The third base umpire though quickly made a foul call that should have resulted in the end of the play.  Instead, with the ball rolling down into the corner, all runners kept on moving, the play was continued as a fair ball and the Longhorns had taken early command of the game.

The call could have been a devastating blow for the Cardinal as the packed crowd at Disch-Falk Field worked themselves into a frenzy.  Instead, it was a senior catcher responding with the biggest hit of his collegiate career.

Facing UT ace right-hander Kyle McCulloch, Stanford struck for four runs in the bottom of the second inning with each tally coming across on one swing of the bat.  Three consecutive singles from Michael Taylor, Chris Lewis, and Jason Castro started the frame to set the table for John Hester.  A power-hitter, it's been a frustrating season in the home run department for the veteran backstop.  Hester entered play this afternoon with just one longball in 176 at-bats, but he would make up for it all (and then some) facing McCulloch today.

Hester got a 2-0 fastball over the inner half of the plate and promptly launched it well over the fence in left center field for the grand slam.  It was Hester's first career grand slam and it gave Stanford their first lead of the game at 4-3.

The Cardinal kept the pressure on McCulloch in the bottom of the third when Chris Minaker led off with a single, advanced to second on a hit by pitch of Taylor, and to third on a Lewis sacrifice bunt.  Stanford continued to play excellent situational baseball when the next man up, Castro, lofted a fly ball that was caught in foul territory in medium-deep right field for a sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, Gallagher put a difficult first inning behind him to keep Stanford in front for the remainder of the contest.  After setting down the final two batters of the top of the first, the sophomore went on to retire the Longhorns in order over the second and third frames.  While the Kainer ground ball did appear to be fair on the television replay, it was a credit to Gallagher to be able to put it all behind him and put forth one of his most dominant stretches of the year.

Gallagher did allow a solo homer in the top of the fourth to Preston Clark to cut the lead down to 5-4 before getting out of the inning without further damage.  He then put up a zero in the top of the fifth before the Cardinal opened the game up in the bottom of the frame.

Still facing McCulloch, again it was Taylor and Lewis starting a big rally with consecutive singles.  Castro followed with a high chopper to second base that was mishandled on the short-hop by Bradley Suttle for an error.  And when the ball rolled past Suttle and over toward the right field line, Taylor raced around third with Stanford's sixth run of the contest.

Hester was up next and he smacked a hard ground ball right to Nick Peoples at third base.  The Cardinal though would catch another break when the ball took a late, high hop off of the astroturf and into Peoples' face.  The shot to his nose knocked Peoples to the ground as Hester managed to reach first safely on the single.  Peoples, who bats second in the Texas order as one of their key hitters, had to leave the contest as Stanford loaded the bases with just one out.

A pitching change ended McCulloch's afternoon as lefty Joseph Krebs was summoned by Augie Garrido.  Krebs fanned Randy Molina for the first out before Jim Rapoport stepped to the plate and smacked a hard ground ball to first base.  It was a difficult play for first baseman Chance Wheeless because of the power behind the ground ball.  But a play that still should have been made considering Wheeless didn't have to move to field the baseball.  If he gloves it cleanly, it's a potential inning-ending double play and a huge momentum swing in the game.  Instead, the ball rolled under his glove, through his legs, and into right field.  Lewis and Castro both scored on the error extending Stanford's lead to 8-4.

The Cardinal scored their final run of the pivotal bottom of the fifth on a two-out, infield single off the bat of Minaker.

McCulloch, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, allowed a season-high nine runs (six earned) on nine hits in four-plus innings of work.

Gallagher continued to cruise after the fifth inning outburst as he set down the Longhorns in order in the top of the sixth.  After mowing down the first two batters of the top of the seventh, Gallagher had retired seven consecutive UT hitters.

But then things started to unravel.  A single from Hunter Harris followed by a four-pitch walk to Clay Van Hook ended Gallagher's afternoon.  Matt Manship, who dominated in a return to his home state of Texas for the regionals last year, was called into pitch and unfortunately it would be a brief and unproductive outing for the senior.  Manship faced future first round draft pick Drew Stubbs to start his afternoon and promptly surrendered a two-run double into the left field corner cutting the Cardinal lead down to 9-6.

The bleeding continued when Chance Wheeless singled through the middle plating Stubbs for run #7.  Kainer then singled into left field to score Wheeless and all of a sudden, a harmless bottom of the seventh turned into a four-run rally and a tenuous 9-8 lead.

Coach Marquess didn't waste any more time after the Kainer hit as sophomore Erik Davis relieved Manship with the potential tying run at first base.  And the cool and collected Davis was able to put out the fire inducing freshman Jordan Danks to lift a routine fly ball to Rapoport in left field for out #3.

Davis needed just 12 pitches for a perfect 1-2-3 top of the eighth before Stanford produced three huge insurance runs in the bottom of the frame.  Five singles resulted in the three scores with Castro, Molina, and Rapoport providing the RBI hits.

Davis then worked around a two-out walk to Stubbs in the top of the ninth to keep the Longhorns off the board and preserve the Cardinal victory.  For Davis, it was an impressive 2 1/3 inning stint on the mound that saw the right-hander face just one batter over the minimum.  He walked one and struck out one to record his third save of the year. 

Texas        3 0 0  1 0 0  4 0 0    -    8  10   2
Stanford     0 4 1  0 4 0  0 3 X    -   12  16   0

Texas              POS   AB   R   H  RBI     BB  SO
Hunter Harris       RF    5   1   1   0       0   0
Nick Peoples        3B    3   1   2   0       0   0
 Clay Van Hook      3B    0   1   0   0       1   0
 Kyle Russell       PH    1   0   0   0       0   1
Drew Stubbs         CF    4   2   2   2       1   1
Chance Wheeless     1B    5   2   2   1       0   0
Carson Kainer       LF    4   0   2   4       0   1
Jordan Danks        DH    3   0   0   0       1   1
Bradley Suttle      2B    4   0   0   0       0   0
Preston Clark        C    4   1   1   1       0   1
Chais Fuller        SS    4   0   0   0       0   0

2B: Stubbs, Kainer
HR: Clark (5th)
SB: Wheeless
E: Wheeless, Suttle

                       IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Kyle McCulloch (L)    4.0   9   9   6   2   2
Joseph Krebs          3.0   2   0   0   1   4
Randy Boone           0.2   3   3   3   0   1
Austin Wood           0.1   2   0   0   0   0

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

3B: Castro
HR: Hester (2nd)
SB: Seawell

                        IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
Nolan Gallagher (W)    6.2   7   6   6   2   4
Matt Manship           0.0   3   2   2   0   0
Erik Davis (S)         2.1   0   0   0   1   1

WP: Nolan Gallagher (5-4)
LP: Kyle McCulloch (8-5)
S: Erik Davis (3)

Records: Stanford (32-25), Texas (41-20)

* Gallagher's final line may not look terribly impressive, but the sophomore did allow just one run on two hits in the second through the sixth innings.  He was credited with his fifth victory of the season.

* Stanford has now gone five consecutive games without committing an error - their longest streak of the season.

* The 4-5-6 trio of Taylor, Lewis, and Castro combined to go 9-for-12 with nine runs scored and two RBI.

* The Cardinal reached double figures in hits for the tenth time in their last 12 games.  Their team batting average is now at a season-high .284.

* Stanford is now 3-1 versus Texas this season.  The win snapped a string of nine consecutive victories at Disch-Falk Field for the Longhorns.

* With the victory, Marquess moved into sole possession of 12th place on the all-time win list for NCAA Division I coaches.  Marquess has now won 1,256 games over his 30-year career to pass former Georgia Southern coach Jack Stallings (1,255 wins in 39 seasons).

* Seawell saw his career-high hitting streak end at seven games.  He was hit by a pitch for the 16th time this year moving into a tie for fifth on the Stanford single-season list (record is 19 held by Brian Dallimore and Carlos Quentin).

* The Cardinal will look to claim the Austin Regional championship on Sunday afternoon when they take on either the Longhorns or N.C. State Wolfpack.  First pitch at Disch-Falk Field is scheduled for 2:00 P.M. (PDT).  Texas and N.C. State will play in an elimination game at 10:00 A.M. (PDT) with the winner advancing to play the Cardinal.  That club will have to defeat Stanford twice - once on Sunday afternoon and again on Monday afternoon - to win the regional.

Pitch Count Watch:
Greg Reynolds: 9 IP/122 pitches

Nolan Gallagher: 6.2 IP/93 pitches
Matt Manship: 0.0 IP/12 pitches
Erik Davis: 2.1 IP/30 pitches

Jeremy Bleich: --
Max Fearnow: --
Blake Holler: --
Sean Ratliff: --
David Stringer: --
Austin Yount: --

Austin Regional:
Stanford 7, N.C. State 2
Texas 9, UT-Arlington 1

N.C. State 6, UT-Arlington 5 (10 innings)
Stanford 12, Texas 8

Game 5: Texas vs. N.C. State, 10:00 A.M.
Game 6: Stanford vs. Game 5 Winner, 2:00 P.M.

Game 7: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary), 4:00 P.M.

All times Pacific.

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