Baseball swept by ASU, beats up on Broncos

Stanford (16-16, 7-8 Pac-10) rolled down to Arizona on a high note last weekend, after winning nine of their previous 11, their last two by a combined score of 30-7. But No. 2 Arizona State (28-8, 13-2) proved too much, sweeping the Cardinal on the weekend. Stanford rebounded Monday with a solid 11-1 win over Santa Clara (15-21).

Friday: ASU 14, Stanford 6

The Sun Devils didn't waste any time getting on the board, jumping all over Cardinal junior Jeffrey Inman. After allowing a pair of runs in the first inning, the righty managed only a single out in the second before being knocked out of the game. Centerfielder Jason Kipnis—who entered the game batting over .400 with 10 homers and 14 doubles—drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double off the wall in right, and sophomore Danny Sandbrink relieved Inman after the next batter singled. Sandbrink allowed a two-RBI double to rightfielder Matt Newman, running the score to 7-3 ASU and giving the Sun Devils all the runs they would need. Sandbrink got the next two batters to escape the inning.

Although Stanford held the lead briefly at 3-2, after scoring three runs in the top of the second, it never felt like the Cardinal were really in the game. Sun Devil starter Josh Spence, in easily his worst performance of this season, still managed to limit the Card to six runs on eight hits through seven innings, and run his record to a perfect 8-0. He was able to crush any hope of a Stanford rally by stranding six runners and allowing only one run in his final four innings of work.

But there were a few positives for Stanford, including sophomore catcher/designated hitter Ben Clowe's 3-for-4 day with three RBI, both matching career highs.

Sophomore Colin Walsh ran his hitting streak to seven games, and sophomores Alex Pracher and Michael Marshall, along with freshman Brian Busick, managed to hold the powerful ASU lineup to just one run on three hits over the final 4.1 innings.

Saturday: ASU 7, Stanford 2

The night after being knocked around by ASU's bats, Stanford turned to freshman Jordan Pries to be the stopper. He turned in the best performance of his young career—shutting out the Sun Devils and holding them to just two hits, while striking out a career-high 10 batters in seven innings—but it wasn't enough for the Cardinal.

Walsh scored from third on a fielder's choice in the fourth inning to give Stanford a 1-0 lead, and Pries made it stick, leaving after seven with the score still 1-0. The Cardinal added an insurance run on an RBI-double by senior Joey August in the eighth, before turning to sophomore closer Drew Storen in the bottom of the eighth.

Storen had been nearly unhittable all year, and hadn't walked a man since the first batter he faced of the season. But that streak of dominance came to an end this outing, as ASU pushed across seven runs on the righthander, who only managed one out.

The line looked worse than his performance actually was, as events snowballed after a series of tough breaks and close calls. Shortstop Drew Maggi led off the inning with a triple to right on a ball that sophomore Kellen Kiilsgaard appeared to have a chance on, but he and August collided and the ball rolled to the wall.

After a lengthy delay to check on August, who stayed in the game with an injured left shin (but did not play Sunday and only served as DH on Monday), Storen got ahead 0-2 on Kipnis, before a pitch barely off the inside corner nicked the batter. The ball didn't move at all—and Kipnis leaned his elbow towards the plate—and Storen argued the call momentarily before returning to the mound visibly frustrated. Storen walked the next man he faced before allowing a single and a double to the next two. He then got a strikeout, but issued two more walks—one intentional—and a wild pitch before being relieved by Marshall with the score 4-2 and the bases loaded. Marshall allowed a three-RBI single to Maggi before escaping the inning.

Stanford had been 10-0 before the loss when leading after seven innings this season.

Sunday: ASU 6, Stanford 3

The Sun Devils pushed across five runs in the fourth inning, and that was more than enough for starter Seth Blair. Blair held Stanford to two runs on six hits through 6.2 solid innings and picked up his fourth win of the year.

Freshman Brett Mooneyham started for Stanford, but was never able to find his command. In just 3.1 innings of work, he routinely fell behind ASU hitters, issuing eight walks. Senior Max Fearnow and Busick combined to allow just two runs the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.

Mooneyham's lack of control is concerning, as walks plagued the freshman early in the season, before he settled down to be one of Stanford's better starters, prior to last weekend.

Stanford did hit their first home runs of the weekend—a pair of solo shots by junior Adam Gaylord and Kiilsgaard. Gaylord's homer was his career first and came on a rocketing line drive to leftfield.

Monday: Stanford 11, Santa Clara 1

The Cardinal needed to rebound from a tough weekend quickly, and they didn't waste any time getting on the board. Five straight batters reached with one out, and by the time the Broncos could escape the inning, Stanford had a 5-0 lead. The Cardinal piled on two more runs in the second and three more in the third, all while freshman lefty Scott Snodgress kept the Broncos quiet through three innings of work.

Snodgress picked up his first career win, and Sandbrink, junior Kyle Thompson, and sophomores Carey Schwartz and Storen worked the rest of the way. The only run came against Storen, who allowed an unearned run on a pair of singles and a passed ball.

Stanford set a new season-high for hits in a game with 18, and senior first baseman Brent Milleville hit a 2009 Stanford-high three doubles en route to a 4-for-4 night. August too was 4-for-4, delivering four singles, an RBI and two runs.

The Cardinal return to action Wednesday, hosting Cal (18-19, 5-10) in a non-conference game at 5 p.m.

Look for a conversation with August, Storen, Kiilsgaard and left hander Blake Hancock, and a preview of the next weekend's key Pac-10 series against Arizona on The Bootleg this week.

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