Publication Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2005|
Stanford's struggling baseball
Stanford's struggling baseball
(May 11, 2005)team falls further in Pac-10
by Rick Eymer
The struggling Stanford baseball team will enter this weekend's three-game series with visiting UCLA in a virtual fifth-place tie in the survival-of-the-fittest Pac-10.
The Cardinal (8-7, 27-17) is still looking at an uphill battle as it searches for a 12th consecutive trip to the postseason.
Stanford split the first two games of its series with Cal, taking Friday's opener, 7-5, before dropping a 2-1 decision in 11 innings on Saturday. The Cardinal, however, fell in Monday's series finale in Berkeley, 9-5.
The difference between fourth and fifth place in the conference could mean a trip to an NCAA regional, or flipping on the television to watch a regional the weekend of June 3-5.
The Pac-10 has sent at least four schools into the postseason in each of the past eight seasons. Last year, fifth-place Arizona not only reached the postseason with a .500 conference record, the Wildcats were the only Pac-10 team to reach the College World Series in Omaha.
Stanford must win at least five of its remaining nine conference games to be considered for a trip into the NCAA wilderness. It's a simple equation: the more victories, the better Stanford's chances.
Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State have all but clinched postseason spots. Stanford would like to join the party, and USC, Washington and Cal also remain in the hunt.
UCLA (1-14, 11-33) is floundering this season under first-year coach John Savage, and is virtually assured of its worst season since the 1981 team went 21-35. In fact, since joining the Pac-10 in 1979, the Bruins have won at least 21 games every season. Their worst conference record ever was a 2-14 mark in 1959 in the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association.
Savage didn't have much to work with when he took over the reigns as UCLA returned three starting position players and one of its top four starters from last year.
Sophomore Hector Ambriz, who played sparingly last year, is the Bruins best player. He's hitting .344, and is 2-5 with a 4.00 ERA as a pitcher. He has UCLA's only complete game and shutout, and has 74 strikeouts in 81 innings.
UCLA has a team ERA of 5.95, and the Bruins have committed 81 errors (.951 fielding percentage) this season. Opponents are fielding at a .972 clip and have committed just 48 errors.
In contrast, Stanford has a team ERA of 3.80, and has five pitchers with an ERA under 4.00. The Cardinal have committed just 36 errors, 30 fewer than their opponents, and own a nation best .978 fielding percentage.
Stanford cannot afford to stumble when the Bruins come to Sunken Diamond on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Three wins would go a long way in clinching a winning conference record.
Jeff Gilmore (8-1) did not allow an earned run in his seven innings on Friday. He set the first 13 batters he faced and finished with two strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
Matt Manship - and his 0.39 ERA - pitched two innings to earn his third save of the year.
John Hester, Michael Taylor and Adam Sorgi each hit a home run in support of Gilmore, who has won 18 of 21 career decisions.
Mark Romanczuk continued his recent success, extending his scoreless streak to 14 innings after taking a shutout into the 10th inning on Saturday. California's Eric Dworkis matched Romanczuk with nine shutout innings.
It all went for naught as Cal scored on a squeeze bunt in the 11th inning to grind out the victory.
"I probably had the best command that I've had all season," Romanczuk said. "This a tough pill to swallow, but it is baseball and that's they way it goes."
Each team scored in the 10th. Taylor and Chris Minaker hit back-to-back two-out doubles to put Stanford on the scoreboard.
Sorgi had a pair of hits to extend his streak to 10 games.
Stanford dropped to 6-8 in one-run games and 8-13 in contests decided by two or less runs. The pitching staff did not allow an earned run in 37 innings before Cal scored in the 10th.
Stanford qualified for the NCAA championships with its eight-place showing at the West regional in Las Cruces, N.M. over the weekend.
The Cardinal will join 23 other schools in Sunriver, OR for the NCAA tournament which begins Tuesday, May 17.
Stanford shot a three-round score of 908, including a 301 in Saturday's final round.
Sophomore Jennifer Tangtiphaiboontana (76-75-74--225) tied for 20th overall while junior Kelly Husted recovered from a bad first round to tie for 26th (81-71-74--226).
No. 19 Stanford won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament with a 12-9 victory over California at St. Mary's on Saturday, but still finds itself on the outside looking in when the Cardinal were overlooked for the 16-team NCAA tournament when brackets were announced Sunday.
Despite playing one of the most rugged schedules in the nation, Stanford (13-5) will once again be on the sidelines.
The Cardinal finished their season on a high note, reaching their eighth conference tournament championships match and winning for the seventh time.
Senior Nina Pantano, named tournament MVP, finishes her career with a 47-25 mark and started all 72 games while at Stanford.
Kelsey Twist, who joined Pantano on the all-tournament team, also started all 72 games during her career with Stanford.
Sarah Bach and Megan Burker were also named all-tournament.
Burker and Pantano combined for seven goals in the win over Cal. Freshman goalkeeper Laura Shane had seven saves.
Stanford opened the tournament with a 14-6 win over UC Davis as Bach, Twist, and freshman Daphne Patterson each recorded a hat trick.
Stanford senior Sam Warburg was named Pac-10 men's Player of the Year for the second straight season, and the duo of Warburg and junior KC Corkery earned Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year honors.
Warburg and Corkery are hoping to help extend Stanford's season beyond this weekend as the Cardinal opens the NCAA team tournament on Saturday against San Diego at Pepperdine.
Warburg was also honored with the West Region ITA/Ted Farnsworth Senior Player of the Year award.
Warburg, ranked first in the nation, won his second straight conference singles title in April. He's 36-5 overall, 21-2 in dual match play. He's the No. 2 seed in the NCAA singles tournament.
The team of Warburg and Corkery won the conference doubles title in April and has a record of 35-6, 19-2 against Pac-10 competition.
Corkery, ranked 15th, was named second team in the Pac-10 for the third straight season.
Sophomore James Wan received his second straight All-Pac-10 honorable mention nod.
Track and field
Freshman Susanna McFarlane won the women's pole vault with an NCAA regional qualifying mark of 12-7 1/2, and sophomore Feranmi Okanlami earned a berth at the regional in the men's triple jump with a 50-3 1/4 at the Sacramento State Open on Friday.
McFarlane's effort was a career-best, and fifth-best in school history. Okanlami's jump was a career-best and eighth-best in school history.
Other Stanford winners included Michael Robertson (discus), Jakki Bailey (100), Laura Mottaz (800) and Lindsay Gannaway (high jump).
Senior Nicholas Taylor recorded a career-best 6,832 points to finish fifth at the Pac-10 Decathlon Championship at UCLA over the weekend.
Stanford finished the weekend in the same place it started and that's a good thing.
The fifth-ranked Cardinal took two of three games to remain a game behind first-place Oregon State in the Pac-10 with three games remaining.
Stanford (12-6, 39-12) host Arizona State on Thursday at 7 p.m. and third-place Arizona on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.
Stanford would likely host a NCAA regional with a second-place finish. The Cardinal are also looking to improve upon last year's 13-8 conference mark, when they finished second to the Wildcats.
Junior center fielder Catalina Morris hit a pair of home runs in Stanford's 6-4 victory over Oregon State on Sunday. Morris, who bats leadoff for the Cardinal, has a career high 13 home runs and would likely be celebrated as one of Stanford's all-time best power hitters (she has 27 career homers) if it weren't for freshman third baseman and her 18 homers, already a single-season school record.
Morris and Smith have combined to hit 31 of Stanford's school record 62 homers this season.
Senior catcher Leah Nelson also hit a home run, her seventh of the year. Freshman first baseman Erin Howe had two hits and drove in three runs.
Stanford dropped a 1-0 decision to the Beavers in a nine-inning tilt on Saturday. Becky McCullough and Oregon State's Brianne McGowan matched zeroes for eight innings before Adrienne Alo hit a home run in the ninth for the game's only run.
Meghan Sickler and Jackie Rinehart each had two hits.
Morris had three hits and scored twice in Stanford's 5-1 victory over Oregon on Friday night.
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