One Down, One To Go: Stanford Downs Cal State Fullerton, 4-3, In Super Regional Opener

June 6, 2008

Box Score

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    FULLERTON, Calif. - Despite a late rally and the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning Friday night, the Stanford baseball team kept its cool in front of a hostile Cal State Fullerton crowd, holding on for a 4-3 victory over the Titans (41-21) at Goodwin Field in the opener of the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional. The win leaves Stanford (38-22-2) just one win away from clinching its 16th trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

    The Cardinal will now have two chances to close out the Super Regional in Fullerton and reach the CWS, beginning with Saturday's 4:30 p.m. PT contest at Goodwin Field. The Cardinal will send senior Erik Davis to the mound to oppose Fullerton's Cory Arbiso in the contest, which will be televised on ESPN.

    Bleich earned his first victory since Feb. 29, coincidentally enough against Cal State Fullerton, by going six full innings and allowing only a single run on three hits. He also struck out five batters on the night.

    Drew Storen came in for reliever Jeffrey Inman with two outs in the ninth inning, retiring the final two Fullerton batters to pick up his seventh save of the season.

    Jason Castro and Sean Ratliff went deep in the contest, Castro's two-run shot in the fifth being his 13th of the year, and Ratliff's solo job in the sixth being his 21st and accounting for the eventual winning run. Joey August went 2-for-3 with a single and a double and reached base four times in his five plate appearances, starting two of Stanford's scoring innings by getting on base with one out in both the first and fifth innings.

    Ratliff walked twice in a 1-for-2 showing, while Castro was 2-for-4 at the plate.

    The Cardinal wasted no time getting on the board first Friday night, as August walked with one out, and advanced to second on Castro's groundout to second. Milleville came through with the two-out single through the left side that brought August across for the 1-0 lead.

    Things would stay that way through the next three innings, as Bleich allowed only one hit and issued a walk in keeping the Titans off the board through four.

    Stanford picked up two more runs in the top half of the fifth, thanks once more to August starting a one-out rally. His sinking line drive down the left-field line could not be corralled by a diving effort from Fullerton's Gary Brown, and August had his tenth double of the season. In the blink of an eye, the Cardinal lead grew to three as Castro belted Kaplan's first offering deep to left-center and out for his 13th home run of the year.

    Fullerton would manage to make up one of those runs in its half of the inning, starting with Brown's bunt single down the third-base line. He would advance all the way to third as an Inman pickoff attempt was errant and skidded down the right-field line. Joel Weeks' single to left plated Brown with the Titans' first run.

    Yet Bleich would let the incident slide right off his back, getting back to the job at hand and putting a stop to the bleeding. After a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt from Dustin Garneau put Weeks on third with one out, Bleich cut short the rally by getting Joe Scott on strikes then inducing Josh Fellhauer into a lazy groundout to Milleville at first.

    It then only took one at-bat for the Cardinal to get that run back, as Ratliff blasted his third home run in two games, sending an 0-1 Kaplan pitch deep to right-center for his 21st home run of the year.

    Kaplan took just his third loss of the year Friday, allowing four runs on eight hits and walking three, with three strikeouts, over six and two-thirds innings. Three Titan relievers would combine to allow just one hit over the final two and a third, keeping the Titans within range for a potential late-inning comeback.

    Inman came on for the Cardinal in relief to start the seventh, but after getting through that inning, ran into trouble in the eighth. Fellhauer led off the inning with a double down the right-field line, and two batters later, Erik Komatsu cut the Stanford lead to one at 4-3 with a home run that bounced off the top of the right-field wall and out. But Inman would buckle down and retire the next two batters, Jared Clark with a grounder to short and Brian Wilson with a popup to third.

    Brown started the ninth inning with a line-drive base hit off the glove of Zach Jones at third, and was sacrificed to second by Weeks. At this point, things were turned over to Storen, the Freshman All-American, who got pinch-hitter Jon Wilhite to fly out to left, then sewed things up by getting a game-ending fly ball to center from another pinch-hitter, Corey Jones.

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