Cardinal Miscues Costly In Loss

The first game of the All-Pac-10 Super Regional went to Oregon State as the host Beavers capitalized on three Stanford miscues in the field for a 4-3 win. Cardinal ace Greg Reynolds struck out nine in seven-plus innings of work, but Oregon State had just enough to defeat the first round draft pick. Stanford must now win on Sunday and Monday to advance to the College World Series.

Greg Reynolds came through with a gutsy 130-pitch performance on Saturday night against the Oregon State Beavers.  Unfortunately, two costly fielding errors behind him plus an untimely balk from the ace right-hander proved to be the difference in a 4-3, Game One loss to the hosts from Corvallis.  Dallas Buck and Kevin Gunderson combined to keep the Cardinal bats in check throughout most of the night and an opportunistic OSU offense took advantage of a few rare Stanford miscues in the field to post the all-important opening victory.

Reynolds had excellent stuff throughout the night as the junior pitched into the eighth inning giving his team a chance to win.  But after playing essentially flawless baseball in the field the last couple of weeks (six straight games without an error), three errors and the clutch hitting that followed did in the Cardinal this evening. 

In the bottom of the first, Reynolds fell victim to a couple of singles from Chris Kunda and Pac-10 Player of the Year Cole Gillespie that found holes to put a pair of runners on base.  Then with men on the corners and one out, Reynolds attempted the popular fake-to-third, throw-to-first play.  The Stanford ace had thrown 120 2/3 innings this year without committing a balk, but unfortunately tonight proved to be the absolute worst time for his first of the 2006 season.

It was certainly a questionable call as Reynolds was ruled to have stepped too far to home plate on his move to third.  What it made even more difficult to accept was that Gillespie at first was picked off had the play stood.  Was that due to the fact the pickoff was that impressive or because Reynolds did indeed balk?  The umpiring crew at Goss Stadium on Saturday ruled that it was because of an illegal move on the part of the first round draft pick.

Reynolds did manage to limit the damage in that first inning as he induced John Wallace to ground out stranding runners at second and third.

Stanford plated their first runs of the game against Buck in the top of the third with the bottom of the order accounting for the damage.  A five-pitch walk to Randy Molina started the frame setting it up for #9 batter Jim Rapoport.  Rapoport had a bunt sign on the first pitch, but after he took it for ball one, Coach Marquess elected to let his junior swing away.  The move paid off as Rapoport eventually got a 3-2 pitch up in the zone from Buck and drove it over the fence in straightaway right field for a two-run home run.  It was Rapoport's third round-tripper of the season and it gave Stanford a 2-1 lead.

The bottom of the third was key for Reynolds in an attempt to keep the momentum in the Stanford dugout.  He also had to face the top of the Oregon State lineup.  After a strikeout of Darwin Barney, Chris Kunda smashed a hard ground ball right to Molina at third base.  But instead of a quick second out, the ball rolled right in-between Molina's legs and down the left field line for a costly two-base error.

Gillespie followed with a walk to set up a force and Reynolds was able to get a ground ball off the bat of the next hitter, Bill Rowe.  But Rowe's chopper alluded the reach of Chris Lewis on the right side of the infield and rolled into right field for a game-tying RBI single.

And the bleeding wouldn't stop there.  On a 2-2 pitch to the next batter, Reynolds plunked Tyler Graham to load the bases.  Reynolds then appeared to come unraveled a bit when he walked Wallace on four pitchers forcing home Gillespie for a 3-2 Oregon State lead.  The Beavers all of a sudden had a chance for a big inning, but to Reynolds' credit, he came back with a huge strikeout of Mitch Canham before Shea McFeely grounded into a fielder's choice to shortstop on a nice play from Chris Minaker ranging to his right.

The Cardinal rallied with two outs in each of the third and fourth innings against Buck, but both times left a pair of runners on base.  Stanford though did manage to produce the tying run in the top of the fifth when Minaker was hit by a pitch with one out and Lewis singled into center field with two down.  Jason Castro then took an 0-1 offering from Buck and went the other way with a line drive single into left field past the third baseman McFeely.  The hit easily scored Minaker to tie the game at 3-3.  John Hester though followed with a sharp line out to right field leaving two more runners on base.

Reynolds worked around another Molina fielding error in the fourth inning to put up a zero before striking out the side in the fifth.  The Cardinal bats went quiet against Buck as the Oregon State All-American worked perfect 1-2-3 sixth and seventh innings to keep the score tied.

Reynolds endured a stressful bottom of the sixth, but managed to retire the dangerous Gillespie on a groundout to third base stranding runners at first and second.  The seventh though would be a different story. 

Again, it was an error that started a rally as Rowe led off by hitting a high chopper to Castro at first base.  The freshman charged in on the ball and tried to cut it off on the short hop.  But it glanced off of his glove and into foul territory allowing Rowe to reach base safely.  After a sacrifice bunt and a groundout moved Rowe to third, Canham came through with what proved to be the game-winning hit.  On a 1-0 pitch from Reynolds, the OSU catcher smacked a sinking line drive into left center field just in front of the hustling Rapoport for a hit.  Rowe easily scored for a 4-3 Beavers lead while Canham advanced to second on what was scored a double when the ball rolled past Rapoport.

Reynolds recovered with a strikeout of the next batter, McFeely, but the damage had already been done.  The Pacifica native was removed from the contest after a leadoff walk in the eighth as he was officially charged with four runs (two earned) in seven-plus innings of work.  Two more walks from reliever Matt Manship (one of which was intentional) loaded the bases in the eighth, but the senior set down Graham on a called strike three to keep Stanford within a run.

The Cardinal were unable to collect a hit in the final four innings of Saturday's game.  The only baserunner against Buck in his last three innings was a Castro one-out walk in the top of the eighth.  But the freshman was quickly erased on a Hester 6-4-3 double play.  The standout closer Gunderson then worked a perfect 1-2-3 top of the ninth on 11 pitches to seal the Oregon State victory.  It was Gunderson's 17th save of the year.

The Cardinal must now win on Sunday and Monday to claim the super regional title and advance to the College World Series.  A win from Oregon State on either day will end Stanford's season.

Stanford        0 0 2  0 1 0  0 0 0   -   3   8   3
Oregon State    1 0 2  0 0 0  1 0 X   -   4   7   0

WP: Dallas Buck (12-2)
LP: Greg Reynolds (7-6)
S: Kevin Gunderson (17)

HR: Stanford - Jim Rapoport (3)

Records: Stanford (33-26), Oregon State (43-14)

Notes:
* Reynolds allowed seven hits in his seven-plus innings on the mound.  He walked two and struck out nine.

* Buck went the first eight innings for Oregon State yielding three runs (all earned) on eight hits.  He walked two and struck out six as part of a 113-pitch effort.

* Rapoport (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) was the lone Cardinal starter to record a multi-hit game.

* Every Stanford starter with exception of Ryan Seawell (0-for-5) and Hester (0-for-4) did pick-up at least one hit.

* The Cardinal fell to 0-4 this year against Oregon State.

* Game Two of this best-of-three super regional is scheduled for Saturday night at Goss Stadium.  First pitch is slated for 7:00 P.M. with live national coverage on ESPN2.  Nolan Gallagher (5-4, 3.75 ERA) will make the start on the mound for the Cardinal while Oregon State is expected to counter with junior right-hander Jonah Nickerson (10-4, 2.67 ERA).

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