Card Crush, Clinch Conference Mark

Mark Marquess' strategy this week put Stanford's ace, Jeff Gilmore, on the mound for Saturday's game against USC to maximize the Cardinal's chances at a win. That single win would clinch a .500 Pac-10 finish for Stanford. Marquess made a winning move, with the Cardinal clubbing 14 runs at Dedeaux Field while Gilmore tossed this third complete game of the year.

The Cardinal wasted little time jumping on the board today as they plated two runs against USC starter Anthony Encinas in the top of the first inning. Adam Sorgi led off the contest with a ground ball single into center field which was immediately followed by a Chris Minaker line drive double into the left field corner. Sorgi moved to third base on the hit.

After John Mayberry, Jr. struck out and Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked, John Hester stepped to the plate and bounced a single over the head of Trojan third baseman Billy Hart as Sorgi and Minaker both raced home for a 2-0 Stanford lead.

Jeff Gilmore earned the start on the mound today for the Cardinal and initially struggled as USC quickly tied the game with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning. A double from Zack Kalter started the rally, and then with one out, All-American catcher Jeff Clement blasted a home run well over the fence in right field to tie the score. For Clement, it was his team-leading 12th round-tripper of the season.

Stanford, however, would move back in front for good in the top of the third inning with a single run against Encinas. With Hester standing out at second base and two outs, Michael Taylor grounded a single into right field to score the Cardinal catcher and put Stanford in front, 3-2.

Then in the fourth, the Cardinal took firm control of the game with four more scores. With one out, DH Ben Summerhays lined an opposite field single into left field. Sorgi then belted a double up the power alley in right center, scoring Summerhays all the way from first base. Minaker was up next and the hot-hitting shortstop reached base safely via a single to score Sorgi with the second run of the inning.

After Mayberry flied out and Lowrie drew another walk, it was Hester delivering the clutch two-out hit, as he slammed a double to deep right center field. Two runs scored on the play to give Stanford a comfortable 7-2 lead.

That would be more than enough for Gilmore on this day, as the junior right-hander settled in nicely after his first-inning troubles. The Huntington Beach (Calif.) native surrendered just one run over the final eight frames of the contest and limited his pitches nicely (104 total). Gilmore may not have had his best stuff, as evident by just the one strike out in nine innings, but he did an excellent job of throwing strikes (only one walk) and letting his defense do all of the work.

USC briefly cut into the Stanford lead with a single run in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 7-3, but the Cardinal took control of the game once again, with two more tallies in the seventh. A triple from Lowrie high off of the wall in center field started the inning. Then with one out, Taylor lofted a fly ball into left field. It was plenty deep enough to score Lowrie from third base, but Taylor was able to reach base safely when Cyle Hankerd dropped the routine fly ball. Taylor would eventually score on a Chris Lewis sac fly to increase Stanford's lead to 9-3.

Then for good measure, Stanford pushed across five more runs in the top of the ninth against the USC bullpen. Nine men came to the plate in the inning, with Minaker's bases-loaded double down the left field line the final blow. Minaker's hit scored three runs to give Stanford a double-digit advantage.

In addition to all of the offensive heroics and the well-pitched game from Gilmore, today's contest also saw the Stanford infield turn a remarkable triple play. In the bottom of the eighth inning with runners on first and second and none out, Roberto Lopez hit a hard ground ball to Sorgi at third base. Sorgi fielded the ball cleanly and quickly took two steps to the base to get the force on the lead runner. He then fired a strike to Lowrie covering second, who then threw to Mayberry at first to complete the triple play. It was so cleanly turned by Stanford that Lopez was thrown out by a full step over at first base.

Game Notes

  • Gilmore picked up his tenth victory of the season with his performance on the mound today. He scattered 12 hits with the three runs allowed. Gilmore improves his career record on the Farm to 20-4.
  • Minaker and Hester both drove home four runs today.
  • Sorgi (3-for-5, 2B, RBI), Minaker (3-for-6, 2 2B, 4 RBI), and Summerhays (3-for-5, RBI) each recorded three-hit games. For Summerhays, it was a career-high in hits.
  • Minaker also extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
  • Other multi-hit games came from Lowrie (2-for-4, 3B) and Hester (2-for-3, 2B, 4 RBI).
  • The 11 run margin was Stanford's largest victory in a Pac-10 game this season.
  • The triple play turned was the Cardinal's first of the year.

Stanford assured itself of at least a .500 record in Pac-10 play with the victory today. The Cardinal (12-11) are also now 3-2 against USC in the season-series with just one game remaining tomorrow.

Stanford  2 0 1  4 0 0  2 0 5  - 14 16 1
USC       2 0 0  0 1 0  0 0 0  -  3 12 1

WP: Jeff Gilmore (10-2)
LP: Anthony Encinas (6-4)

HR: USC - Jeff Clement (12)

Records: Stanford (32-22, 12-11), USC (36-19, 14-9)

* The Cardinal will play their final game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon as they take on the Trojans at Dedeaux Field. First pitch of the rubber game of the series is scheduled for 1:00 P.M. Left-hander Jack Spradlin (5-3, 4.39 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for USC while Stanford has yet to announce a starting pitcher.

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