Card Top Cougars 8-2, Finish 2nd In The Pac

The Stanford Cardinal completed a sweep of the Washington State Cougars with an 8-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Sunken Diamond. Stanford though will have to settle for second place in the Pac-10 this season as they finished one game behind the USC Trojans in the standings. Here is a recap of today's game.

The 8th ranked Stanford Cardinal completed a sweep of the Washington State Cougars this afternoon at Sunken Diamond with an 8-2 victory.  Tim Cunningham carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning while the offense broke open a close 3-2 game with five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.  Stanford though will finish the regular season in second place in the conference as the USC Trojans defeated UCLA 13-3 this afternoon down in Los Angeles.  The Trojans finished with a 17-7 conference record while the Cardinal ended up 16-8.  Washington and Arizona State finished in a third place tie with identical 15-9 league records.  Stanford's overall record now stands at 40-16 on the season.

You could tell it was going to be Cunningham's day early on as the junior left hander was displaying excellent stuff in the first few innings.  The Cougars (21-33, 6-18) went down in order in the top of the first, had one runner reach base in the second on an error, and then were retired 1-2-3 in the third.  Cunningham walked the leadoff batter in the fourth inning, but that runners was erased on a caught stealing and then he was able to get out of the inning still without allowing a hit.

But the Stanford offense was not having very much luck against WSU starter Bryce Chamberlin.  Stanford recorded two hits in the first three innings, but both times the runners were erased on double plays and so the score remained 0-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.  In that bottom of the fourth though, the Cardinal finally got something going against Chamberlin.  Chris Carter led off with a walk, stole second, and then advanced to third on a single off the bat of Sam Fuld.  Ryan Garko was the next hitter and the junior catcher flew out to deep right field that scored Carter from third for a 1-0 Stanford lead.

Cunningham went back out in the fifth and again did not allow a hit and then retired the first two batters of the sixth inning with ease.  But with two outs in that top of the sixth and on an 0-and-2 pitch, third baseman Bookie Gates lined a single into center field ending any chances for the no-hitter.  Gates would then steal second base and would score when the following hitter, Robert Stahlke, singled and all of a sudden it was a 1-1 game.

The game would remain tied until the bottom of the seventh inning as Carlos Quentin led off by getting hit by the pitch and then Scott Dragicevich homered to left field, his fifth bomb of the year, and Stanford was back in front at 3-1.  Cunningham, after tossing a 1-2-3 seventh inning, came out in the eighth and retired the leadoff hitter before giving up a home run to pinch-hitter Jeffrey LaRue to cut the lead to 3-2.  Then after Cunningham got the next hitter to fly out to right field he was pulled from the game in favor of Ryan McCally.  McCally would struggle though giving up a single and a walk before being taken out of the game.  Darin Naatjes was summoned from the bullpen and Naatjes struck out Stahlke to end the threat and keep the score 3-2.

Then in the bottom of the eighth inning, Stanford put the game away with five runs.  Fuld and Garko led off with the inning with consecutive singles then pinch-hitter Brian Hall laid down a bunt only to have Chamberlin bobble it and everyone was safe.  With the bases loaded, Chris O'Riordan flew out to center field scoring Fuld for a 4-2 lead.  After Carlos Quentin was intentionally walked to re-load the bases, Dragicevich lined a single into right field scoring Garko extending the lead to 5-2.  Two batters later, Arik VanZandt singled home Hall and then Chris Carter stepped up and doubled down the right field line scoring two more runs for an 8-2 advantage.  Naatjes came back out in the ninth and retired the first two hitters and then senior J.D. Willcox was brought into the game in his final regular season game at Sunken Diamond and the senior right hander struck out Steve Mortimer to end the game.

Game Notes :
* Cunningham finished his afternoon with 7 2/3 innings pitched while giving up two runs on just three hits.  He walked two and struck out six while improving his record to 8-2.

* Sam Fuld's hitting tear continued with a 3-for-5 performance this afternoon.  Fuld now has a .396 batting average and 99 hits on the season.

* Other offensive stars this afternoon were Scott Dragicevich (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI), Chris Carter (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI), and Arik VanZandt (2-for-4, RBI)

* After today's win, Stanford has now won 40 times this year which is the eighth consecutive season they achieved 40 or more victories in a season.  They also finished the regular season with a stellar 24-4 home mark.

Washington State    0 0 0  0 0 1  0 1 0   -   2   4   1
Stanford            0 0 0  1 0 0  2 5 x   -   8  11   2

The NCAA Tournament selection show will be tomorrow morning at 9:30 am and will be televised on ESPN2.  Stanford's first postseason game will be on Friday the 31st.

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