June 2, 2006
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Austin, Texas - Stanford (31-25) opened postseason play at the NCAA Austin Regional with a 7-2 victory over North Carolina State (38-22) as Greg Reynolds tossed a complete-game seven-hitter at Disch-Falk Field on Friday. Reynolds struck out seven and walked two while going the distance for the fifth time in his last six starts in a game televised live nationally by ESPNU and played before an announced crowd of 4055. Stanford jumped out to a 5-0 lead after an inning and a half and never trailed as the Cardinal won its postseason opener for the seventh time in the last eight campaigns.
The victory earned the third-seeded Cardinal a spot in a winners' bracket game versus defending national champion and No. 3 national seed Texas (41-19) on Saturday, June 3 (3 pm, CT/1 pm, PT, ESPNU). The Longhorns, also the Austin Regional host and No. 3 national seed, defeated No. 4 seed Texas-Arlington in Friday's other first round game by a score of 9-1. Second-seed North Carolina State and Texas-Arlington will meet in an elimination game on Saturday (11 am, CT/9 am, PT) with the winner moving on to face Saturday's Stanford-Texas loser in another elimination contest on Sunday (12 pm, CT/10 am, PT). The winner of Saturday's Texas-Stanford game will move on to the first of two possible Regional championship games on Sunday (4 pm, CT, 2 pm, PT).
"We got a great pitching effort from Greg Reynolds today," said Stanford head coach Mark Marquess, who won his 1255th career game to move into a tie for 12th-place on the all-time NCAA Division I win list. "He had really good stuff and got stronger as the game went on."
"I knew that North Carolina State had some hitters that were certainly very aggressive and very good," added Reynolds. "The key was to keep my fastball down. The plan was to attack hitters with my fastball and along the way throw in some off-speed. If I could do that, I thought they would get themselves out and hit a lot of ground balls, and that's exactly what happened."
Reynolds induced 13 ground ball outs and Stanford added three more outs via the ground by turning three double plays, including a pair that came on comebackers up the middle started by Reynolds.
Jim Rapoport (3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI) equaled a season-best with his third three-hit game of the season and had a pair of doubles for the first time in his career. Randy Molina (3-3) also had a three-hit contest, while Chris Minaker (2-4, 2B, RBI), Grant Escue (2-5, RBI) and John Hester (2-5, RBI) added a pair of hits each for the Cardinal. Michael Taylor drove in a pair of runs, while Escue scored a career-high-tying two runs.
Ryan Seawell set the tone for the Cardinal when he drilled the second pitch of the game from starting pitcher and loser Gib Hobson (9-2) just shy of the 405 foot sign in left center field. North Carolina State centerfielder Matt Camp chased the ball down on the warning track for the first out of the game but Escue followed with a single to start a Cardinal rally. Minaker moved Escue to third with a double to rightcenter and Taylor brought him home with an RBI groundout.
Stanford took a commanding 5-0 lead with four more runs in the top of the second when the Cardinal hit around in the order. Rapoport brought home the first two Cardinal runs with a one-out ground rule double that bounced over the wall in rightcenter field to score Jason Castro and Hester, who had walked and singled to start the rally before moving to second on Molina's sacrifice bunt. Hobson struck out Seawell for the second out of the inning but three consecutive singles from Escue, Minaker and Taylor brought home two more Cardinal runs with Escue and Taylor each driving in a run.
"It was important to get those runs early," emphasized Marquess. "We hit the ball really well. That was huge and if you give Greg [Reynolds] a five-run cushion that's pretty good. We'll take our chances with that."
"We wanted to come out and make a statement with the bats," chipped in Minaker. "It was big getting to their pitcher early. I heard nothing but great things about him in the scouring report and when you're facing a great arm, you want to get to him early."
The Cardinal increased its lead to 6-0 in the sixth when Molina led off with an infield single, Rapoport drilled a ball off the wall in rightcenter field and Seawell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Jason Duncan (3.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 SO) then struck out Escue for the first out of the inning before being relieved by Travis High (0.2 IP), who gave up a sacrifice fly to Minaker before getting Taylor on a fielders' choice to end the inning.
North Carolina State ended Reynolds shutout bid in the bottom of the sixth when Camp started a two-out rally with an infield single before two more singles from Ramon Corona and Aaron Bates brought him around to score.
Pinch-hitter Matt Mangini drilled a one-out triple off the leftcenter field wall with Seawell crashing hard off the fence in his effort to chase it down and Camp followed with an RBI single to cut the Cardinal lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the eighth. But, Reynolds got Corona to hit into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Stanford added an unearned run in the top of the ninth when Hester singled home Chris Lewis, who had reached on an error by Mangini at third base earlier in the inning.
Camp (2-3, RBI) and Bates (2-4, RBI) each had two hits and an RBI for North Carolina State.
Hobson's start was his shortest of the season and second-shortest of his career as he lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing five runs on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts before six North Carolina State relievers closed out the game.