Card smoke Santa Clara 15-4 in home finale

After fighting three tense battles with Cal, Jason Castro and friends took matters into their own hands -- and over the Sunken Diamond walls -- yesterday. Castro's three-run homer put Stanford up 6-4, and David Stringer, David Sandbrink and Rex Petrill made sure that lead stood.

Stanford 15, Santa Clara 4

Santa Clara (32-19): 004 000 000

Stanford (30-18-2): 000 370 50x

The heroes:

Brent Milleville's been having a great season, batting .353, but it seems like his batting average is about double that over a hot streak the past few weeks. He was 4-for-6 yesterday, and had one single been a triple, it would have been a cycle. As it was, Milleville scored Stanford's first run on a solo shot in the fourth that sliced Santa Clara's lead to 4-1.

Randy Molina made only one out at the plate yesterday, reaching first base in five of six plate appearances, on three singles and two walks.

Jason Castro's three-run bomb to right in the fifth gave Stanford the lead for good, 6-4. Joining Castro with two-hit games were Joey August and Zach Jones. Jones' double to left, also in a seven-run fifth, plated two to push Stanford's lead to 8-4.

Hitters rightfully grab the headlines on a day Stanford scores 15, but how about the relief staff? Senior David Stringer, frosh Danny Sandbrink and senior Rex Petrill, all righties, pitched the last 6.2 without a run to their names. Stringer (3-1) picked up the win despite allowing starter Max Fearnow's two earned runs to cross the plate.

"It is amazing the way these hitters always get their bats going," Stringer said. "We have a huge amount of confidence in all of them, and it is always enjoyable to watch them rounding the bases."

Tough day at the ballpark:

For Stanford, No. 7 batter Brendan Domaracki and No. 9 batter Jake Schlander drew four combined walks, but were the only starters not to hit. Jones fired slightly high, but it was ruled E-3 as a would-be groundout hit off Milleville's glove to start off the third. Santa Clara would score their first and last runs of the inning unearned off the error.

Key stretch:

Off four straight singles following Milleville's error, Santa Clara jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third. Stringer took over for Fearnow with one out and the score 2-0, but then allowed a single and a sac fly before striking out Curtis Wagner to end the inning with one left on.

Stanford didn't have to wait long to respond, with Milleville's solo shot to left followed by a Molina walk and a Sean Ratliff shot to right in the bottom of the fourth.

In the fifth, 12 Cardinal batters would come to the plate. Alex Rivers, replacing starter Justin Keuhn, was on the mound for the first eight. He lost all but one of those battles (a Ratliff strikeout) to yield five runs and leave two on base. Rivers left with an ERA of 189 when August singled off the Broncos' third pitcher of the evening, freshman righty Matt Renner, to score Jones and Domaracki, who'd reached against Rivers. Castro grounded out to first to mercifully end the inning 12 at-bats, seven runs and six hits after it began.

Renner pitched 1.2 innings with no earned runs, yet Santa Clara pulled him to start the bottom of the seventh for junior Daniel DeMarco. No word on whether Stanford batters tipped the Bronco braintrust for the quick hook of their one pitcher who was doing well, but they were probably considering it after six straight batters reached base against DeMarco with one out. Walsh started the feast with a walk, the next four batters all singled, and then Ratliff reached by error. DeMarco left, his ERA for the day a mere 81, as Zach Jones' two-out two-RBI single later in the inning scored Milleville and Molina unearned. An Austin Yount strikeout and Walsh groundout ended the inning, sandwiching Jones' hit that gave Stanford its final 15-4 margin.

Sandbrink pitched scorelessly from the start of the sixth on, striking out three in the process, but coach Mark Marquess brought on senior righty Rex Petrill for the final two outs, a strikeout and a grounder to first. Petrill had pitched just 3.1 innings on the season and knows he might not see many more with postseason play looming around the corner. So the senior appreciated the opportunity to end a game, and possibly a career, on the right note.

"I got a little emotional during batting practice today when I realized this could be my last game at Sunken," said Petrill. "We are a family out there. This team reminds me of the good chemistry and leadership we had two years ago, when we reached the Super Regionals."

Next for Stanford is a visit to Arizona this weekend and Washington next weekend. The Card enter its last two weekends of Pac-10 play one game behind conference-leading Arizona State, and squarely on the bubble to host an NCAA Regional.

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