Cardinal Sweep Trojans

The Stanford Cardinal returned to action this past weekend after a two-week break and promptly swept a three-game series from the host USC Trojans. Stanford had to battle back in game one for a 9-6 victory, they outlasted the Trojans in 11 innings to win game two, while they used some timely hitting in game three to complete the sweep. Read on for a complete recap of the series.

Another weekend, another series win for the Stanford Cardinal.  The top ranked Cardinal returned from their two-week break for finals last weekend and promptly swept a three-game series from the struggling USC Trojans.  Stanford (17-5) has now won seven consecutive series' to start the year and nine in a row dating back to last season.

Game One :
Game one of the series was played on Saturday afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader.  The Trojans jumped out to an early 5-0 lead off Stanford starter Jeremy Guthrie after two innings.  It wasn't all Guthrie's fault though as three of the runs were unearned because of a passed ball by catcher Ryan Garko on a strikeout.  The Cardinal got back into the game in the third inning against USC starter Matt Chico as they put across three runs.  With one out, Arik VanZandt singled and then advanced to second on a wild pitch.  Chris O'Riordan knocked in VanZandt with a single for Stanford's first run in what would be the first of many hits for the senior second baseman in the series.  Sam Fuld followed O'Riordan's single with a walk and then Garko drove home both runners with a double down the left field line and the Cardinal had cut the USC lead to 5-3.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Guthrie settled down and faced the minimum nine batters over the next three innings keeping the score 5-3 until Stanford stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth inning.  With the bases loaded and two out, Garko was balked home making the score 5-4 which set the stage for Brian Hall.  Hall clubbed a 3-2 pitch from reliever Bret Butler to the left-center field gap scoring two more runs and giving Stanford their first lead of the game at 6-5.  The Cardinal wouldn't stop there though as VanZandt stepped to the plate and homered to right center field extending Stanford's lead to 8-5.  The Cardinal added another run in the top of the seventh inning on a Jason Cooper RBI double scoring Fuld giving Stanford nine unanswered runs since falling behind 5-0.

But the Trojans would not quit as they finally got to Guthrie in the bottom of the seventh.  The first three runners reached base against the junior righthander which forced Coach Marquess to make a pitching change.  He summoned lefty Dan Rich from the bullpen and Rich promptly uncorked a wild pitch scoring a run which cut the lead to 9-6.  But the senior settled down, retiring the next three hitters without a run coming across to score and Stanford maintained their 9-6 advantage.  Rich went back out to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and gave up consecutive two-out singles, but got USC slugger Brian Barre to fly out to end the threat.  Rich finished the game in the ninth inning as he needed only seven pitches to set down the Trojan hitters and Stanford had won game one, 9-6.

Game Two :
Just 40 minutes later the teams were back out on the field as game two of the doubleheader got underway.  This time it was Stanford jumping out to the big lead as they went ahead 7-0 after 3 1/2 innings.  The Card scored two runs in the first inning on a clutch two-run, two-out single by Chris Carter.  They added two more tallies in the second frame with the big hits being an O'Riordan RBI double and a Garko RBI single.  Stanford then added three more scores in the fourth inning with two of those runs coming across on a single off the bat of Jason Cooper.

Tim Cunningham, meanwhile, dominated through three innings setting down the first nine hitters he faced.  USC finally got to the junior lefty in the fourth inning as they put across three runs on five hits to cut the Stanford lead to 7-3.  The Cardinal answered back in the fifth inning as Arik VanZandt tripled home a run for an 8-3 lead and then he came home on a O'Riordan single and the lead had been pushed back up to six runs.  But in the bottom of the fifth inning, USC got right back in the game thanks in large part because of an error by Cooper in left field.  With runners on first and second and two out, Nick Mosich singled to left field to load the bases, but Cooper in left let the ball get under his glove and it rolled all the way to the wall.  Before Cooper could retrieve the ball and fire it into the infield, all three runners had scored and USC was back in the game at 9-6.

The Cardinal offense continued to roll in the top of the sixth inning as Donny Lucy singled home Ryan Garko with two outs to increase the lead to 10-6.  The Trojans matched that run in the bottom of the sixth off Cunningham on a sacrifice fly and the lead was back down to three runs.  Cunningham's day was finished after six innings (7 runs, 4 earned, 3 walks, 1 strikeout) and Drew Ehrlich was brought in from the bullpen.  Ehrlich worked a perfect 1-2-3 seventh inning, but then ran into some trouble in the eighth.  A single and a walk to start the inning knocked Ehrlich from the game as Coach Marquess brought in junior Darin Naatjes.  Naatjes retired his first hitter on a strikeout, but then got himself into trouble.  A walk loaded the bases with one out and then a single by Matt Bonovich scored one run and the lead was down to 10-8.  Naatjes then walked pinch-hitter Matt Chico which scored another run and all of a sudden, Stanford's advantage was only one run.  That ended Naatjes' afternoon as J.D. Willcox was brought into the game.  Willcox got Brian Barre to fly out to center field, but it was plenty deep enough to score the run from third and the game was tied 10-10.  With runners at first and third and two out, Marquess brought in his fourth pitcher of the inning in Ryan McCally and the junior righthander got out of the inning by striking out Anthony Lunetta to keep the score at 10-10.

After the Cardinal went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth inning, the Trojans had a chance to win the game in the bottom half of the inning.  Alberto Concepcion led off with a double down the right field line and USC, who at one point was down 7-0, had the winning run at second base with none out.  Mosich then stepped up to the plate and laid down a perfect bunt along the third base line.  The bunt was so good that Mosich beat it out at first and the Trojans now had runners on the corners with still none out.  With the infield in and the outfield playing shallow, McCally induced Travis McAndrews to pop out to second base and the Cardinal stayed alive, at least for the moment.  Marquess then elected to intentionally walk Bill Peavey to load the bases and set up a force play at home.  The strategy worked as McCally struck out Kris Cox on a 1-2 pitch and then got Bonovich to ground into a fielder's choice at shortstop and miraculously, the Cardinal had escaped the threat and sent the game into extra innings.

After each team went scoreless in the tenth inning, the Cardinal broke the tie in the 11th.  Carlos Quentin led off with a single and was sacrificed over to second.  Donny Lucy then struck out to set the stage for Scott Dragicevich.  With Quentin on second base and two out, Dragicevich lined a single to left field scoring Quentin and giving Stanford back the lead at 11-10.  Dragicevich then alertly took second base when the left fielder bobbled the ball.  That error would prove costly as VanZandt followed Dragicevich's single with a single off his own and Stanford had pushed the lead up to 12-10.

The Trojans would not go quietly in the bottom of the 11th inning as they loaded the bases with one out against McCally.  McCally though worked more of his magic getting Cox to fly out to shallow left field and then retiring Bonovich on a ground out to second base and Stanford had won game two, 12-10 in 11 innings.

Game Three :
Game three wasn't nearly as dramatic, but it was still another Cardinal win as they completed the sweep.  USC took the early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI double off the bat of Bill Peavey against Stanford starter John Hudgins.  But the lead would be short-lived as the Cardinal answered back with two runs in the top of the second inning.  Jason Cooper led the inning off with a mammoth home run over the scoreboard in right center field to tie the game while the second run of the inning came home on a sacrifice fly by Donny Lucy, scoring Carlos Quentin who had earlier reached on an error.  Stanford then added single runs in the third and fourth innings to increase their lead to 4-1.  Chris O'Riordan homered to left center field for the Cardinal's third run of the game, while the fourth tally came across on a sacrifice fly by Arik VanZandt.

Trailing 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, USC scored two runs off Hudgins to cut the Stanford lead to one.  Peavey led off the inning with a home run while the second run of the inning came home on a RBI single off the bat of Matt Chico.  The Cardinal would maintain that 4-3 lead as Hudgins put up zeros in both the fifth and sixth innings.  In the seventh inning, Ryan Garko belted his team-leading sixth home run of the year increasing the lead to 5-3.  That run would prove to be valuable as USC answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI double by Alberto Concepcion.  Drew Ehrlich came on in relief of Hudgins in that seventh inning and promptly gave up the double to Concepcion, but then the sophomore right hander retired the next seven hitters securing the win and giving Stanford the 5-4 victory.

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