Card Edge ASU 3-1 To Win Series

Good pitching, good defense, and some timely hitting from the Stanford Cardinal this afternoon helped them to a 3-1 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils to claim the series victory. Tim Cunningham tossed seven shutout innings to record the win while reliever Ryan McCally had to work out of a huge jam in the ninth inning to preserve the victory. Read on for a complete recap.

The 7th ranked Stanford Cardinal edged the Arizona State Sun Devils 3-1 on a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Sunken Diamond to win the three-game series.  Tim Cunningham tossed seven shutout innings to record his sixth win of the year while Ryan McCally got out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the top of the ninth inning to pick up his seventh save of the season.  With the win, the Cardinal improve their overall record to 35-14 while they are now 11-7 in Pac-10 play.  With USC defeating Washington 8-6 this afternoon, it moves Stanford into a two-way tie for second place with the Huskies (11-7) while they remain a full two games behind the Trojans (13-5) with six conference games remaining.

This game was a pitcher's duel from start-to-finish.  Cunningham was opposed by Sun Devils righthander Robbie McClellan who entered the game with a 7-4 record.  ASU (28-18, 10-8) had some opportunities to push across a few runs off Cunningham but could not get that clutch hit.  In the top of the first inning, the Sun Devils put two runners on base with two out, but #5 hitter Rod Allen flew out to center field ending the rally.  In the second, Arizona State again put two runners on base with two out, this time on an error and an infield single, but Cunningham got leadoff hitter Steve Garrabrants to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning.  Then in the top of the fifth, ASU again mounted a two-out rally as consecutive singles by Sergio Garcia and Dustin Pedroia set the table for clean-up hitter Jeremy West.  But West hit a routine ground ball to Chris O'Riordan ending the threat.

Meanwhile, McClellan was having a fairly easy time setting down the Cardinal hitters through the first five frames.  Stanford's best chance to score came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Sam Fuld led off with a double and then advanced to third on a wild pitch.  But McClellan was able to get out of the jam without any runs scoring as he struck out Brian Hall and O'Riordan and then got Ryan Garko to fly out.  Finally in the bottom of the sixth, with the score still 0-0, Stanford got to McClellan.  Fuld led off with a triple to the right-center field gap and then scored on a fly out to left field off the bat of Hall.  The next hitter was O'Riordan and the Cardinal second baseman promptly homered to left field extending the lead to 2-0.

In the top of the seventh inning, Cunningham gave up a leadoff single to Ryan McKenna but he was erased when the following hitter, Cesar Castillo, lined into a double play to first base.  Cunningham got out of the inning and then was removed from the game in favor of Dan Rich to start the eighth inning.  Rich gave up a leadoff home run to Garcia cutting the lead in half at 2-1, but then easily retired the next two hitters.  He was then taken out of the game as Darin Naatjes was summoned from the bullpen to face Rod Allen and Naatjes got Allen to strike out on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

Stanford added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks in large part to some wildness from the ASU pitchers.  Arik VanZandt led off with a walk and then moved to second when Fuld singled up the middle.  Hall sacrificed both runners up to second and third base with a bunt and then O'Riordan was intentionally walked to load the bases.  After Ryan Garko struck out for the second out of the inning, Carlos Quentin was hit by the pitch forcing home a run pushing the lead back up to two runs at 3-1.

In the top of the ninth, the Sun Devils mounted a serious rally off Naatjes and Ryan McCally.  Naatjes began the inning by walking Jeff Larish and then Nick Walsh hit a slow roller up along the first base line.  But due to some mis-communication, both Naatjes and first baseman Arik VanZandt went after the ball and nobody covered first base and the Sun Devils had runners on first and second base with none out.  That ended Naatjes' afternoon as McCally was brought in from the bullpen.  The junior righthander made quick work of the next hitter, Ryan McKenna, striking him out on four pitches for the first out of the inning.  McCally then got out ahead of Bryce Kartler 0-2, but then fired four consecutive pitches out of the zone which loaded the bases for leadoff hitter Steve Garrabrants.  On an 0-2 pitch, Garrabrants hit a slow ground ball right back to McCally who threw home for the force out on Larish which was the second out of the inning.  Sergio Garcia then came up and the ASU #2 hitter lined a 1-2 McCally offering into center field but right at Sam Fuld for the third and final out of the inning and Stanford had a series win.

Game Notes :
* Cunningham's final line saw him go seven full innings while giving up seven hits and no runs.  He walked two and struck out two to run his record to 6-2.

* The save for McCally was his seventh of the season.  He also now has 11 career saves which puts him in a tie for eighth on the all-time Stanford saves list.

* Only three Cardinal players had hits on the afternoon (6 hits total).  They came from Sam Fuld (3-for-4, 2B, 3B), Scott Dragicevich (2-for-3), and Chris O'Riordan (1-for-3, HR, RBI).

* It was another multi-hit game for Fuld which gives him 15 of those in his last 17 games.  He leads the team with a .378 batting average.

* The series win also insured that the Cardinal have still not lost a series at home since April of 1999.  It was their 21st consecutive home series win (regular season only).

Arizona State     0 0 0  0 0 0  0 1 0   -   1   9   0
Stanford          0 0 0  0 0 2  0 1 x   -   3   6   1

The Cardinal will next be in action on Tuesday afternoon when they travel to Reno to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack in a single non-conference game.  It is Stanford's final regular season, non-conference game of the season.  First pitch is scheduled for 2pm.

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