Stanford Wins Pac-10 In Convincing Fashion

The Stanford Cardinal baseball team won their second consecutive outright Pac-10 Championship this afternoon with an easy 10-3 victory over Arizona State. Chris Minaker, Jonny Ash, and John Mayberry, Jr. each smoked home runs while Jeff Gilmore tossed seven quality innings on the mound to record his ninth win of the year. Stanford has also now won six conference titles in the last eight seasons while they run their 2004 overall record to a sparkling 44-11.

The Cardinal jumped on the board first in today's game with a single run in the bottom of the first inning.  With two outs, Jed Lowrie drew a walk.  Then Danny Putnam stepped to the plate and he promptly crushed a triple off the base of the wall in center field scoring Lowrie with Stanford's first run of the game.

Stanford starter Jeff Gilmore breezed through the first inning throwing just seven pitches in setting down the Sun Devils 1-2-3.  However, he would run into some trouble in the second as ASU plated two runs to take their first lead of the contest.  Jeff Larish got things started with a ringing double to right.  After a single from Josh Asanovich and a strike out, Tuffy Gosewisch came up and flied a ball down the right field line.  Right fielder Brian Hall sprinted over and made a fabulous running catch in foul territory just before slamming into the bullpen fence for the second out of the inning.  That ball though was plenty deep enough to score Larish from third to tie the game.  The next batter was Zechry Zinicola and the Arizona State DH came through with a clutch two-out double scoring Asanovich to make it a 2-1 game.

The Cardinal though would waste little time in getting back the lead.  Facing ASU ace pitcher and a leading candidate for Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, Jason Urquidez, Chris Minaker belted a two-out, two-run homer to deep left center field off the top of the scoreboard to give Stanford a 3-2 advantage.  But the Cardinal wouldn't stop there.  Sam Fuld drew a hard-earned full-count walk and then Jonny Ash ripped a line drive home run over the wall in right and all of a sudden, it was 5-2 in favor of Stanford.

Gilmore quickly set down ASU in the third and fourth innings surrendering just a one single over those two frames.  Then in the bottom of the fourth against relief pitcher Erik Averill, Stanford broke open the game with four more runs.  Minaker led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch.  Fuld's ground out moved Minaker to third, but Jonny Ash couldn't bring him home as he grounded out sharply to second.  After Lowrie walked, Putnam came through with a big two-out single into left field scoring Minaker.  Then John Mayberry, Jr. delivered the knockout punch as he launched a three-run homer to left field to make it a 9-2 ballgame.

Stanford scored their final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth when Donny Lucy led off with a double to deep left.  He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Chris Carter's sacrifice fly to right.

Gilmore continued to roll through the middle innings as he put up zeros in the fifth, sixth, and seventh frames.  The only hits were a one-out double in the sixth and a leadoff two-bagger in the seventh to which both times Gilmore was able to pitch out of trouble.  In the eighth, Gilmore began the inning with two consecutive balls to Joe Persichina which ended his afternoon as sophomore Kodiak Quick was summoned from the bullpen.  Quick completed the walk to Persichina and then issued a free-pass to Travis Buck.  But Quick was able to limit the damage after that as he retired the next three batters on a ground out, fly out, and a ground out.  A run would score on the fly out to make it a 10-3 game.

In the ninth, Quick issued a two-out walk, but got All-American Dustin Pedroia to ground into a fielder's choice to shortstop to end the game and give Stanford the outright Pac-10 Championship.

Game Notes:
* Gilmore picked-up the win with seven quality innings of work.  He surrendered three runs on six hits with two walks and six strike outs.

* Minaker, Ash, and Mayberry, Jr. each hit homers today - that gives Stanford 88 long balls on the season which is tied for fifth all-time on the Farm.  The school record is 102 which was set by the 1997 club.

* Multi-hit games came from Hall (3-for-4, SB), Ash (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI), Putnam (2-for-5, 3B, 2 RBI), and Minaker (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI).

* Putnam extended his hitting streak to 15 games with his triple in the first inning.

* Every starter in the Stanford lineup, with the exception of Chris Carter, had at least one hit today.

* The Cardinal scored nine of their ten runs with two outs.

* Stanford has won four games in a row.  The pitching staff has complied an ERA of 1.50 during the streak.

* Stanford's overall record now stands at 44-11 with just one game remaining in the regular season.  Even with a loss tomorrow, the Cardinal would finish with the second best regular season winning percentage in Mark Marquess' 28 years as a head coach.  Only the 1990 team that went 52-10 (.839) finished better.

* The Pac-10 championship is Stanford's second in a row and sixth in the last eight seasons.

Arizona State   0 2 0  0 0 0  0 1 0   -   3   6   0
Stanford        1 4 0  4 1 0  0 0 x   -  10  13   0       

WP: Jeff Gilmore (9-2)
LP: Jason Urquidez (11-3)

HR: Stanford - John Mayberry, Jr. (14), Jonny Ash (5), Chris Minaker (3)

Records: #2 Stanford (44-11, 16-7), #16 Arizona State (39-16, 12-11)

* The Cardinal will go for the sweep of the Sun Devils tomorrow afternoon at 1:00pm.  It's Senior Day at the ballpark as Stanford plays their final regular season game of the year.  Matt Leva (5-1, 3.91) is scheduled to start on the mound for the Cardinal while Arizona State is expected to counter with lefty Brett Bordes (3-1, 7.56).

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