Stanford Comeback Falls Short As 10-8 Loss Ends Postseason Run

June 21, 2008

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    OMAHA, Neb. - Despite a valiant comeback effort in the ninth inning Saturday afternoon, the Stanford baseball team's 2008 season came to an end with a 10-8 loss to Georgia at the College World Series in Omaha. The Cardinal found itself in a five-run hole after five innings, and despite a four-run rally with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Stanford could not complete the comeback at Rosenblatt Stadium.

    Stanford ends the 2008 season with an overall record of 41-24-2, and made the program's 16th appearance in the College World Series, where a 2-2 mark at the event continued its streak of winning at least one contest in each of its trips to Omaha. The Cardinal also finished second in the Pac-10 Conference with a 14-10 mark.

    Cord Phelps led the Cardinal with a pair of hits Saturday, including an RBI triple, his second three-base hit of the College World Series. Nine other Cardinal players had one hit, highlighted by freshmen Jake Schlander, who scored a pair of runs, and Ben Clowe, who had a two-out, pinch-hit three-run home run in the ninth inning off of 2008 Closer of the Year Joshua Fields.

    Trailing 10-4 heading into its final chance at the plate, the Cardinal got a one-out walk from Randy Molina followed by a single from Sean Ratliff that put runners at the corners with Fields on the mound. After Fields got Joey August swinging on strikes, Cardinal freshmen accounted for the run-scoring hits, as Colin Walsh, pinch-hitting for Schlander, lined a single through the right side that scored Molina, then Clowe, after battling Fields to a full count, sent a fastball high and deep into the left-field seats that got the Cardinal right back into the thick of things. But Fields would battle back from a 3-0 count to Phelps, working to a full count before getting the Cardinal second baseman to fly out to center to end the contest.

    Georgia got nearly all the offense it needed from the second through fifth innings, putting up nine of its 10 runs and 13 of its 15 hits over that span. The stretch began with Rich Poythress' double to lead off the second, as despite Cardinal starter Jeremy Bleich retiring the next two Georgia batters, Joey Lewis managed to take a 3-2 offering into left field for an RBI single and the first score of the contest.

    Stanford missed a chance to get on the board in the second inning, as with two outs, Ratliff was hit by a pitch, and Jeff Whitlow singled to put two runners on base. But the Cardinal would fail to get a run across, a theme that would haunt it until the final inning. Until Walsh's RBI single with two outs in the ninth, the Cardinal were a collective 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

    The Bulldog lead would swell to 4-0 an inning later, as singles from Ryan Peisel and Gordon Beckham sandwiched a Matt Olsen strikeout to put two runners on with one away. The duo of Poythress and Lewis would once again turn out to be a thorn in the side of the Cardinal, as Poythress knocked in Peisel with a double to right, advancing Beckham to third, and following an intentional walk to Bryce Massanari and a Matt Cerione strikeout, Lewis again delivered a two-out single to left, plating Beckham and Poythress for the four-run advantage.

    On the day, Poythress and Lewis would combine to drive in seven of Georgia's 10 runs. Poythress went 4-for-5 with three doubles, driving in four runs, while Lewis went 2-for-5. Peisel drove in the other three Bulldog runs with a three-run home run that highlighted his 3-for-5 day at the plate.

    Stanford would get one of those runs back in its half of the third, but at the same time missed a golden opportunity to make a larger dent in the Bulldog lead. The Cardinal loaded the bases to start the frame as Schlander walked, Phelps singled, and Toby Gerhart drew a walk of his own. After Jason Castro struck out for the inning's first out, Dean Weaver took over on the hill for Bulldog starter Nathan Moreau and got Brent Milleville to line out to right, although it did allow Schlander to tag from third and score. Molina would single to re-load the bases for Ratliff, but Weaver would get him to fly out to center to end the inning.

    Weaver would earn his sixth victory of the season with three and two-thirds innings of relief work, allowing three runs on six hits. Bulldog starter Nathan Moreau allowed just one run on two hits and struck out three batters, but did not figure in the decision because he went just two and a third innings in the contest.

    Singles from Miles Starr and Peisel led off the fourth for Georgia, and the pair was moved up a bag by Olson's sacrifice bunt. After intentionally walking Beckham, Bleich was relieved by Drew Storen, who was welcomed to the contest by Poythress' two-run single to center that increased the Bulldog advantage to five at 6-1. Storen, though, would retire the next two batters to get out of the inning.

    Bleich, who was charged with all six runs through the fourth inning, suffered his third loss of the year, after giving up that total on eight hits through three and a third innings of work. He also struck out four batters on the day. Storen would allow three runs of his own on five hits over an inning and two-thirds of work.

    A two-out rally in the Stanford half of the fourth halved the Georgia lead, as Schlander singled and came around on Phelps' triple to right. Phelps would then score on a wild pitch from Weaver to make it 6-3.

    But once more, the Bulldogs would stifle the Cardinal's attempt to build momentum, posting another treble in the fifth frame. With one out, Allen and Starr got on with consecutive singles, and Peisel lifted a 1-1 pitch from Storen deep to right that had just enough to clear the wall for his 12th homer of the year, which put Georgia in control with a 9-3 lead.

    Stanford got consecutive singles of its own from Castro and Milleville to start the fifth, but Molina's line out to right and Ratliff's flyout to left made for two quick outs, but Joey August was able to pick up his teammates with a base hit through the right side that plated Castro for the Cardinal's only run of the frame.Georgia would tack on its final run against Austin Yount in the top half of the eighth, as Poythress' bat continued to haunt the Cardinal, sending a double just past the glove of Zach Jones at third to score Beckham, who himself had doubled to lead off the inning.

    Yount threw three and two-thirds innings of relief, giving up just one run on two hits and striking out five Georgia batters. Senior David Stringer came in for Yount with two outs in the ninth and got the final out as Olsen flied out to right.

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