Baseball Wins a Thriller

Three-run bottom of the ninth? Check. Local rival? Check. 21 runs, 25 hits and a walk-off victory over a local rival? Daniel Novinson recaps baseball's 11-10 Wednesday night victory over San Francisco.

In a nutshell

Stanford 11, San Francisco 10

USF (21-15): 300 021 400 00 - 10

Stanford (19-11-1): 032 010 013 01 - 11

The heroes: Brett Milleville went 4-of-6 with a solo homer in the fifth. But it was his two singles, one in the ninth and the game-winner in the 11th, that were absolutely clutch. Junior rightfielder Jeff Whitlow (Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets, represent) showed off his wheels with two triples in three at-bats. Freshman Michael DeGroot and junior Blake Hancock held USF scoreless over the last 4.1 innings.

Tough day at the ballpark: Second baseman Cord Phelps and centerfielder Sean Ratliff went hitless in a combined nine at-bats, with five strikeouts. Coach Marquess says the area his team most needs to improve is its offense and reducing those strikeout numbers would be a big first step.

Key stretch: USF broke a 6-6 tie with a four-run seventh, beating up Stanford pitchers Michael Marshall, Carey Schwartz and Rex Petrill in the process. But Whitlow scored off his triple in the eighth, and then Stanford strung together four singles in the ninth to force the extra frames.

Moneyball says going for the steal is usually a bad move, but don't tell that to pitch runner Wampe Olabisi, who easily stole second with two outs in the ninth and then scored the tying run on a Randy Molina single.

Then, in the bottom of the eleventh, Stanford drew two walks to set the stage for Milleville's no-out game-winning single. The shot looked like a homer, but in the thick night air of Sunken Diamond, the ball instead slammed into the top of the leftfield wall. It didn't matter as it was "All Right Now" for the Cardinal.

The pitching

More on this in the upcoming season-update piece, but it wasn't pretty, which is surprising considering the staff's dominance in mid-week games. Freshman righty Alex Pracher now has an ERA of 10.59 over 17 innings, after the Dons managed five runs in his 4.1 innings, three of them on a first-inning homer. Then the Stanford bullpen got smoked in the seventh.

But in came DeGroot, in came Hancock, and the Stanford bats came to the rescue, bailing out the staff in 11. That's only fair: the pitchers have certainly carried the load plenty this season.

The hitting

Much more to wax poetic about here. Eight different Stanford players earned hits and ten reached base, including every starter save for the shortstop Jake Schlander, batting ninth. Multihit games belonged to Milleville, Whitlow and DH Jason Castro, and Ben Clowe knocked in his second homer of the season, a two-run shot in the second.

On the season, Clowe's hitting .375 in limited at-bats (32), second only to Randy Molina's .379. Cord Phelps (.356 in 135 at-bats), Castro (.338 in 130 at-bats) and Austin Yount (.353 in 51 at-bats) are also having great offensive seasons. Meanwhile, Toby Gerhart (.125 in 48 at-bats) and Schlander (.216 in 97 at-bats) need to pick it up. The rest of the team is clustered between averages of .296 and .267 – but the five guys with .330-plus batting averages account for nearly half (155 of 333, 46.5 percent) of Stanford's hits in just 38 percent (435 of 1137) of the team's at-bats.

The miscellany

Attendance was officially 1,280, which means about 700 probably actually attended. Would have liked to see a few more butts in seats considering that both schools are local, the weather was nice and the contest closely fought.

Stanford's now won a season-high four straight. Next up is a weekend trip to UCLA, just 18-14 overall, 3-3 in-conference and No. 54 in the RPI. However, the Bruins have scored at least 10 in eight of their 32 contests – including marks of 22 and 18 in the last week. Whichever UCLA team shows up – the one that beat Cal-State Northridge 22-2 on Tuesday, or the one that lost to CSU-Northridge 4-0 the same day – will have a big effect on the Cardinal's performance this weekend.

The quotes

Brett Milleville

On the game-winning single:

I actually thought it was a home run, but weird things happen. Sunken Diamond at night is a graveyard. It's tough to get a ball out of there.

On the pitching:

I think the best thing is our depth. So many guys can go out there and play, I think it's a good thing. I feel like, what, we're using eight pitchers. It's good and just shows how productive we are.

On diving into the tarp for a foul ball in the sixth inning:

I actually got lucky I hit the center of tarp with my head instead of the corner. I didn't feel good, but was lucky I didn't get hurt.

On UCLA:

With the kind of schedule we've been playing, if we get a good effort, we should be just fine.

On the team's performance thus far this season:

I feel pretty good. I think our rank and record still don't show how good we can really be. We have the potential to do well in the Pac-10 and go to Omaha.


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