Stanford Drops 7-6 Game at California in Pac-10 Opener

March 21, 2009

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BERKELEY, Calif. - In its first game following a 12-day layoff for winter quarter finals, Stanford (3-8, 0-1 Pac-10) fell behind 5-0 after three innings and could not fully recover in a 7-6 loss to California (11-7, 1-0) this afternoon at Evans Diamond in the Pacific-10 Conference opener for both clubs.

After threatening in the first inning, the host Golden Bears jumped on Stanford starter Jeffrey Inman (0-3) for three runs in the second and two more in the third. California loaded the bases with nobody out in the second on an infield single, a hit batsmen and a walk, then plated its runs on a sacrifice fly from Michael Brady, a wild pitch and a two-out single by Brian Guinn. With two outs and nobody on in the third, Jeff Kobernus drew a walk and Bears catcher Dylan Tonnesson followed with a two-run home run to left field.

Trailing 5-0, Stanford's offense came to life in the top of the fourth off California starter Matt Flemer, scoring four runs on five hits - including four extra-base hits. Joey August, who reached base safely four times by going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, doubled to lead off the frame and scored one out later on an RBI-double by Kellen Kiilsgaard. Jonathan Kaskow then got the Cardinal back in the game with a mammoth, two-run homer to right field that sliced the Cal lead to 5-3. Ben Clowe re-started the Stanford rally with a two-out single, and raced around to score on an opposite field, RBI-double off the bat of Toby Gerhart.

California added another run off Inman in the fourth. Brett Jackson homered with one out in the sixth to provide the only blemish in the 3.0 innings by Stanford reliever Alex Pracher on the day, and the only run the sophomore right-hander has allowed in 6.2 frames this season.

Finding itself in a 7-4 hole entering the seventh, the Cardinal began to claw back once more, and Kaskow was once again at the forefront. After homering from the left side, the sophomore switch-hitter delivered a clutch two-out, RBI-single batting right-handed off Cal relief ace Michael Bugary (2-0) to bring Stanford within two runs at 7-5.

Clutch pitching from Cardinal right-hander Max Fearnow (1.1-scoreless innings) and southpaw Blake Hancock - who retired his only two batters faced to strand an eighth-inning runner in scoring position - set the stage for a dramatic ninth.

Protecting a two-run lead, California turned to hard-throwing closer Blake Smith. Colin Walsh started the inning by working a walk, and August followed by punching a single through the right side. Zach Jones sacrificed the potential tying runs into scoring position, and Kiilsgaard brought Walsh home with an infield groundout. Kaskow then put forth a terrific at-bat, fouling off several pitches after falling behind 0-2. However, he was eventually retired on a 2-2 pitch, and California had a series-opening victory.

Stanford and California will play the second contest of this three-game series Sunday afternoon in Berkeley, with Cardinal right-hander Jordan Pries (2-0, 3.14) scheduled to oppose Golden Bears right-hander Brian Diemer (1-1, 3.60). First pitch from Evans Diamond is set for 1:00 p.m. PT.

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