Cardinal Drop Series After Heartbreaking Loss

Streaks are falling left and right this year. Stanford hadn't been swept since 1997 before last week, and then the squad dropped 3 in a row to Cal State Fullerton. Stanford hadn't lost a home series since 1999, that is, until today. A wild one at Sunken Diamond turned out to be another streak killer ...

Florida St. 10, Stanford 8
February games in college baseball usually don't mean all that much.  However, for the Stanford Cardinal, today's game vs. Florida St. was a big one.  Having lost 4 of 5 including all three in Fullerton last weekend, the Cardinal needed a big performance today to defeat the #4 Florida St. Seminoles and extend their home series winning streak.  Yesterday, FSU handed the Cardinal their first loss at home in 12 games and today, Florida St. handed the Cardinal their first series loss at home since Stanford lost 2 of 3 to USC in 1999.
Facing freshman Mark Sauls for FSU, the Cardinal did something they hadn't done in two weeks:  took the lead at a point during the game- Stanford pushed across a run in the first.  Sam Fuld walked, moved to second on a passed ball by Aaron Cheesman, to third on a flyout by Brian Hall, and then scored on a Carlos Quentin RBI single.  For Quentin, it was his first RBI of the year.  Quentin's single followed Ryan McCally's 1-2-3 first inning, and the Cardinal led 1-0 after 1.
McCally through four innings was dominant.  He faced the minimum, issuing only a one out walk to Tony McQuade in the 4th, who was subsequently erased after a 4-6-3 DP turned by Ash, Swope, and Mayberry.  38 pitches into his performance, McCally was dealing.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal failed to score in the second and third frames, but scored again in the fourth.  With one out, Danny Putnam singled to LF.  John Mayberry, who struggled most of the series, bounced a single to left to put runners on at first and second.  After Sauls K'ed Jonny Ash, Tobin Swope delivered a bloop single to RF, making it 2-0 Stanford.  Swope would play a large part today, going 4-6, ending up with 9 hits in the series.
Leading 2-0, McCally lost steam in the 5th.  He gave up his first hit of the day to Tony Richie who led off the inning.  Richie was 0-8 coming into today's game, but would later atone for his early offensive failings.  Following a single by Jerrod Brown and a walk to FSU's Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Aaron Cheesman chopped a ball up the middle, scoring two to tie the game at 2-2.  Up stepped Matt Sauls, starting pitcher Mark's older brother, who was 1-14 in 2003.  Sauls hit a high chopper over the head of Brian Hall, scoring another run and putting FSU in the lead 3-2.  McCally would record one more out but would depart with runners on first and second and one out.  His final line:  4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R/ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
Matt Manship made his third appearance of the year and second of the series, striking out Brian Zech and getting Tony McQuade to ground out to end the inning.  After 4 and a half, FSU led 3-2.
As they would do all day long, the Cardinal fought back.  One out singles by Hall and Quentin put runners and the corners for Ryan Garko, who delivered with a base hit to left.   With runners at the corners and one out, Putnam struck out swinging.  John Mayberry hit a grounder to third that FSU's 3B Martinez-Esteve threw into Stanford's dugout, giving the Cardinal the lead back at 4-3.
The battle continued in the 6th, this time with FSU fighting back.  Manship retired Derrick Smith but Tony Richie singled up the middle and Jerrod Brown singled to left.  Martinez-Esteve singled to right, driving home Richie and knocking Manship from the game.  Mark Jecmen relieved but Cheesman drove home his third run of the day by blooping a ball over the head of Mayberry and into RF for a hit, and FSU regained the lead 5-4.
Lefthander Trent Peterson relieved Mark Sauls for FSU in the 5th and in the 6th gave up a single to Swope and threw a WP to get him to second.  Retiring Jed Lowrie, Peterson hit Sam Fuld and Mike Martin brought in Kevin Lynch, a RHP who threw in each of the games this weekend.  He promptly hit Brian Hall to load the bases.  Quentin, with an RBI finally under his belt after 8 games, drove home another run with a Sac Fly, tying the game at 5.
Up stepped Ryan Garko.  The senior was mired in an 0-14 slump before yesterday's 2 base hits.  With 2 on and 2 out, Garko blasted a towering, monsterous home run to left, putting 3 more on the board for Stanford and giving them an 8-5 lead.  The homer by Garko was Stanford's first of the series, and the four runs Stanford scored in the 6th gave them their first big inning of 2003.  It also broke the tie and Stanford led 8-5.
In relief of Jecmen who only threw 2/3rds of an inning, Kodiak Quick was making short work of FSU's hitters.  He retired the side in the 7th, and got out of a jam in the 8th.  With two on and one out, Quick got pinch-hitter and All-American Stephen Drew to fly out and then Chris Hart to ground out, preserving Stanford's 3-run lead.
Taking a 8-5 lead to the 9th, Mark Marquess elected to stay with Quick.  Kevin Richmond led off by hitting a routine grounder to 2nd.  For the second time in as many innings, Ash bobbled the ball and a runner was on.  Quick walked Bryan Zech to bring the tying run to the plate in Tony McQuade.  Marquess met with Quick and his infield, but two pitches later, McQuade drove the ball over the fence in left to tie the game.  It was a heartbreaker for Quick and the Cardinal, only three outs from victory.  Now the game was knotted at 8.  David O'Hagan came in and did a great job, striking out two batters and getting a comebacker to end the inning.  Stanford got a runner on base in the 9th but Coach Mike Martin brought in closer Daniel Hodges to shut Stanford down, sending the game to extra innings.
While David O'Hagan baffled Florida St. hitters in the 10th, striking out the side, Stanford would have a great chance to win it in the bottom of the inning.  Swope singled once again, this time to left.  Jed Lowrie attempted to bunt him over, but failed, and on 2-2 flied out to right, leaving Swope on first with one out.  Sam Fuld stepped in, and with a 3-1 count, ripped a ball down the first base line for a long single, moving Swope to third.  Martin, as he did at several points during the series, elected to intentionally walk a batter to load the bases.  With one out, the bases were full for Carlos Quentin.  Mike Martin elected to play his infield all the way back, and outfield very shallow.  Quentin hit a laser to center, but McQuade was in perfect position to make the catch and was shallow enough that even Swope had no chance to score.  With 2 outs, Donny Lucy came up.  Lucy was 0 for his last 11 with 11 straight Ks.  He got down in the count 0-2, and could only manage a grounder to second, and a golden opportunity for Stanford was wasted, as the score remained tied at 8.
O'Hagan worked a scoreless 11th.  Still tied at 8 in the 12th, O'Hagan remained in the game.  In three innings, O'Hagan had yet to surrender a hit and had struck out 6 batters!  Finally, in the 12th, Tony Richie broke through and hit a long homer off O'Hagan to break the tie and make it 9-8.  O'Hagan would go on to give up a double to Jerrod Brown and a RBI single to Daniel Wardell before giving way to Drew Ehrlich for the final out of the 12th.  Stanford trailed 10-8 going to the bottom of the 12th.
In a last ditch effort, the Cardinal came close.  Lowrie doubled to center with one out and Fuld reached on an error to put runners at first and second.  Hall grounded into a fielders choice, and the Cardinal had one last shot with Carlos Quentin as the winning run at the plate with runners at the corners.  As Quentin took the first pitch, Tony Richie snapped a throw down to first to pick off Brian Hall.  Hall was caught in a rundown, and running back to first he ran into Jerrod Brown who dropped the ball, seemingly allowing a run to score and Hall to return to first safely.  However, first base umpire Gus Rodriguez called Hall out for pushing the fielder and the game was over.  Florida St. was victorious 10-8.

Florida State     0 0 0  0 3 2  0 0 3  0 0 2   -   10  12   2
Stanford          1 0 0  1 2 4  0 0 0  0 0 0   -    8  16   2

WP:  Daniel Hodges (1-0
LP:  David O'Hagan (0-1)
Records:  Florida St. (5-1), Stanford (3-5)

* David O'Hagan was the tough luck loser, but what a performance by the junior.  He threw 3.2 innings, and while he gave up 2 runs on 3 hits, he struck out 8 batters and worked the first three innings flawlessly.  Hats off to the Minnesota native who hasn't pitched much in 2+ years at Stanford.

* Donny Lucy snapped his strikeout streak at 11 but is still hitless in 12 AB.

* Carlos Quentin drove in 2 runs, his first two of the year.
* Florida St.'s series victory was the first for a visiting team at Sunken Diamond since USC won a series in April, 1999.

* Stanford will try to get back on track against Fresno St. and Nevada next weekend (3 with Fresno St., Monday vs. Nevada).  Fresno St. was swept at home in their first three games by Cal St. Fullerton.  The Titans outscored the Bulldogs 32-5 in the series.  The Cardinal and the Bulldogs will play a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series at Sunken, game times are 6, 1, and 1.

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