Stanford Falls 11-4 at California in Series Finale

March 23, 2009

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BERKELEY, Calif. - California took advantage of 12 walks issued by Stanford pitching and Blake Smith drove in four runs as the host Golden Bears (12-8, 2-1 Pac-10) defeated the visiting Cardinal (4-10, 1-2) this afternoon at Evans Diamond. After Stanford took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning, California scored the game's final eight runs to win the rubber game of this conference-opening, three-game series.

In a game that featured 20 total walks, it was Stanford that first took advantage. Ben Clowe drew the first of eight Cardinal walks with one out in the first inning, and moved to third on a wild pitch and infield single by Joey August. Jonathan Kaskow then hammered a two-out, two-run double into the gap in left-center field to give Stanford and freshman left-hander Brett Mooneyham a 2-0 lead.

Mooneyham held the two-run advantage until the third inning, when his fourth and fifth walks set the stage for Smith, who came to the plate with runners at first and second and one out. Smith gave California a 3-2 lead with one swing, as he belted an opposite-field, three-run home run.

Trailing 3-2 with two outs and nobody on in the fifth, Stanford started to rally in an unconventional way. Following a Kaskow walk, Toby Gerhart struck out but reached first when the third strike got away from California catcher Chadd Krist and rolled all the way to the Cardinal dugout. In an excellent bit of clutch hitting, Stanford pulled ahead 4-3 when both Zach Jones and Adam Gaylord delivered consecutive two-out, RBI-singles.

Unfortunately for the Cardinal, its lead was short-lived. Mooneyham began the bottom of the fifth by throwing three consecutive balls to Smith. He was replaced by reliever Alex Pracher, who threw ball four to Smith (a walk that was charged to Mooneyham). Pracher (0-1) recovered to retire his next two batters, but then walked Jeff Kobernus, surrendered a game-tying, RBI-single to Michael Brady and walked Krist. Cal's ninth-place hitter, Brian Guinn, then delivered the hit of the game when he grounded a single into left field that ended up clearing the bases when the ball skipped past a hard-charging Gerhart. Guinn scored one batter later, when Brett Jackson greeted Drew Storen with an RBI-single.

Stanford mounted one more rally in the sixth off California reliever Michael Bugary. Colin Walsh walked and Clowe singled leading off the inning, and August drew a one-out walk to load the bases. However, Bugary (3-0) bounced back to retire Kaskow and Gerhart without a run scoring to end the threat. The Golden Bears then put the game away in the eighth, scoring three runs off a trio of Cardinal relievers.

Storen matched his career high with five strikeouts over 2.0-scoreless innings, while Blake Hancock stranded an inherited runner in scoring position for the second time during the series. Mooneyham yielded only two hits and struck out five in his 4.0-plus innings, but his eight walks paved the way to four earned runs.

Stanford will play its fourth straight road game this Wednesday, as the Cardinal travels north to face host U.C. Davis. First pitch from Davis' James M. and Ann Dobbins Baseball Stadium is set for 2:30 p.m. PT.

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