Stanford's Pac-10 series losing streak might be finally snapped today in the rubber game of the weekend series against Washington. The Cardinal on Saturday at Sunken Diamond broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with a five-run outburst, holding off the Huskies' ninth-inning rally to win 8-6. The three-game series is now tied at one game apiece.
Stanford has lost seven straight Pac-10 series, dating back to the final conference series of the 2006 season. The stretch is the longest in recorded school history. The Cardinal have lost all six Pac-10 series in 2007, with this weekend and a series in two weeks at USC their only remaining opportunities this year. This is the fourth straight series Stanford has taken to the rubber game, but the Cardinal have lost its last three season finale attempts. A win today over Washington would come exactly one year after the last series-clinching win in Pac-10 play: May 13, 2006, also against the Huskies.
"We've been close the last three series and just haven't got in done in the rubber game," says sophomore Joey August, whose career-high four hits paced the Stanford offense on Saturday. "It's kind of a pride thing to be able to prove ourselves to some people."
Cardinal bats came alive against Husky pitching, with at least one hit in each of the first six innings of the game and 16 total hits in the eight innings they came to the plate. Until the five-run eighth, Stanford struggled bringing runners around to score, stranding eight runners through the first six frames. Stanford scored a single run in the bottom of third and two runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Cardinal had lead-off batters aboard in four straight innings after the first.
Then it all came together in the bottom of the eighth. Stanford knew the 3-3 tie would not likely hold much longer, having narrowly escaped a bases-loaded threat in the top half of the inning. Junior Brian Juhl started the rally when he pinch hit for classmate Randy Molina, and Juhl took a 1-0 pitch through the left side for a single. Junior Brent Milleville, who started the game at catcher but moved to first base for the ninth inning with Juhl taking over behind the dish, doubled to left-center field and brought Juhl all the way around to score. That gave Stanford a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish, but the Cardinal had more work still to be done.
Senior Ryan Seawell, who was 2-for-3 on the day with two runs scored and two RBI, brought Milleville home with a single back up the middle. Washington threw home, and Seawell smartly took advantage by taking second base. He then stole third base, his third in three attempts this year. An August single brought Seawell in for the third run of the inning. August was forced out at second base next on a fielder's choice by freshman Toby Gerhart, but that mattered little when sophomore Sean Ratliff tripled to left and drove in Gerhart. The final run scored on a double down the left field line by junior Michael Taylor, fighting an 0-2 count with two outs. Ratliff (3-for-4) and Taylor (2-for-5) both had multi-hit games on the day. Ratliff was back in the lineup after a day of rest Friday, his first and only absence in the starting roster in 2007.
"We finally put it together," offers Milleville on the Stanford eighth. "I felt like that was one of our best innings of the year on offense. We had a lot of guys battling pitchers and winning big spots."
The 8-3 Stanford lead would hold, though not without drama as the Huskies answered with three runs in the top of the ninth. Junior Nolan Gallagher had come into the game in the top of the eighth, inheriting a baserunner with no outs from sophomore Jeremy Bleich. Bleich threw seven-plus innings and allowed just three runs while striking out four and walking none, but he would have no decision, leaving the game with the score knotted at 3-3. Saturday was however the first Stanford win in a game started by Bleich since March 3 (5-4 vs. Cal).
Gallagher was the pitcher of record and notched the win Saturday, but his performance in 1 2/3 innings (3 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 3 BB) was one to forget. After a sacrifice bunt and flyout, Gallagher walked two straight batters on a combined nine pitches, including a wild pitch. He escaped the two-out bases-loaded jam with fly ball to left field to finish the inning. Gallagher started the ninth with his third walk but came back with two outs to bring the game within an out of ending. The 6'3" righthander instead gave up three straight hits, including an RBI double and a two-run home run.
Gallagher gave way to sophomore lefthander Blake Hancock, who yielded a single in his one batter he faced. With two men aboard and the tying run at first base, into the game came sophomore Austin Yount. He induced a ground ball to sophomore shortstop Cord Phelps, who tossed the ball to second base for a force out to end the game. It was Yount's first save of the year and his second in college.
"I was just trying to pick up our team," says the sophomore. "It was nice to get a win today and set ourselves up to hopefully win the series tomorrow."
Stanford pitchers gave up four home runs, accounting for all but one of Washington's six runs. The Huskies had two homers apiece in back-to-back spots in the batting order from Trevor Petersen and Ty Rasmussen. The Cardinal by contrast scored all eight of their runs without leaving the yard once. Five Stanford players had multi-hit games: August, Ratliff, Taylor, Milleville, Seawell and redshirt junior Adam Sorgi. Sorgi (2-for-4) raised his average to exactly .400 and has multi-hit games in 10 out of his last 13 games, during which time the second baseman has raised his season average 81 points.
Saturday marked just the 13th time in 47 games this season that Stanford has played without committing an error.
Washington 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 3 - 6
Stanford 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 5 X - 8 16 0
Washington POS AB
R H RBI BB SO
Michael Burgher CF 4 1 0 0 1 2
Bradley Boyer 2B 5 0 2 0 0 0
Matt Hague 3B 5 0 0 0 0 0
Curt Rindal 1B 4 1 2 1 0 0
Trevor Petersen DH 4 2 2 3 0 0
Ty Rasmussen LF 5 2 3 2 0 1
Brett Kaluza PR 0 0 0 0 0 0
Danny Cox SS 4 0 2 0 1 1
Matt Stevens RF 4 0 2 0 1 0
Joey Dunn C 4 0 0 0 0 0
2B: Boyer 2, Rindal, Stevens
HR: Petersen 2, Rasmussen 2
IP H R ER BB SO
Elliott Cribby 4.1 9 3 3 0 2
Tyler Cheney 2.2 1 0 0 1 2
Nick Haughian (L) 0.2 5 5 5 0 0
Brandon McKerney 0.1 1 0 0 0 1
Stanford POS AB
R H RBI BB SO
Joey August LF 5 0 4 1 0 1
Brendan Domaracki DH 3 0 0 1 0 0
Toby Gerhart PH/DH 2 1 0 0 0 0
Sean Ratliff CF 4 1 3 1 1 1
Michael Taylor RF 5 0 2 1 0 1
Adam Sorgi 2B 4 1 2 0 0 2
Cord Phelps SS 4 1 1 0 0 0
Jason Castro 1B 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Whitlow PH 1 0 0 0 0 0
Randy Molina 1B 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brian Juhl PH/C 1 1 1 0 0 0
Brent Milleville C/1B 3 1 1 2 0 0
Ryan Seawell 3B 3 2 2 2 0 0
2B: August, Ratliff, Taylor, Milleville
IP H R ER BB SO
Jeremy Bleich 7.0 9 3 3 0 4
Nolan Gallagher (W) 1.2 3 3 3 3 0
Blake Hancock 0.0 1 0 0 0 0
Austin Yount (S) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0
WP: Nolan Gallagher (4-6)
LP: Nick Haughian (4-7)
Records: Stanford (20-27, 5-15 Pac-10), Washington (26-22, 9-8 Pac-10)
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