April 19, 2009

TEMPE, Ariz. - Stanford was six outs away from a series-evening victory over the fourth-ranked team in the country, but host Arizona State (27-8, 12-2 Pac-10) exploded for seven runs in the eighth and defeated the Cardinal (15-15, 7-7) by a score of 7-2 tonight at Packard Stadium. The Sun Devils sent 11 men to the plate off the Stanford bullpen during the highest-scoring inning by a Cardinal opponent this season.

Stanford carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth behind the stellar effort of freshman right-hander Jordan Pries, who through seven innings outdueled his counterpart - reigning Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Mike Leake of Arizona State. Pries lowered his ERA to 3.43 by yielding just two singles over 7.0-shutout innings, with a career-high 10 strikeouts. The rookie did walk five, but responded by twice thwarting two-on, two-out rallies with inning-ending strikeouts. Pries did not allow his first hit until two were out in the fourth against an offense that entered the game with a team batting average over .300.

The Cardinal pushed across single runs in the fourth and eighth innings off Leake, who improved to 9-1 with the win. Colin Walsh extended his career-best hitting streak to eight games with a leadoff single in the fourth, and moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Joey August. Toby Gerhart put Stanford on top 1-0 when he beat out a fielders' choice grounder that plated Walsh for an RBI.

Adam Gaylord opened the eighth with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Schlander, but was still on second with two outs when August delivered a clutch, RBI-double down the right field line.

With a 2-0 lead going to the bottom of the eighth, Stanford turned to closer Drew Storen - who had yielded just three runs all year and had a 12.1-inning scoreless streak. However, a pair of bad breaks propelled a rare rough outing by the Cardinal right-hander. Arizona State leadoff hitter Drew Maggi opened the inning with a perfectly-placed fly ball into the right-center field gap, a hit that turned into a triple as center fielder August and right fielder Kellen Kiilsgaard collided when both made a sliding attempt at the catch. Storen (3-1) then jumped out in front of the dangerous Jason Kipnis 0-2, but his third pitch grazed the batter's sleeve for a hit-by-pitch. Carlos Ramirez loaded the bases by drawing the first walk off Storen in 20.2 innings, Matt Newman blooped an RBI-single into right-center, and Jared McDonald put the Sun Devils in front with a two-run double. A fourth run scored on a wild pitch, and Maggi capped the scoring with a 3-2, two-out, three-run single off Michael Marshall.

Stanford also grounded into a season-high three double plays, and stranded a runner at either second or third in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings.

The Cardinal will look to avoid a sweep in the series finale tomorrow afternoon, as Stanford sends freshman left-hander Brett Mooneyham (3-1, 3.94) to the mound. First pitch from Packard Stadium is set for 1:00 p.m. PT.