Omaha Bound!

For the fourth consecutive season, the Stanford Cardinal baseball team is headed for Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series. The Cardinal defeated the USC Trojans 5-3 on a pleasant Saturday afternoon at Sunken Diamond to win the best-of-three game series 2-to-0. Scott Dragicevich was the hero offensively for Stanford with four hits while Tim Cunningham got the win on the mound. Read on for a recap.

For the fourth consecutive year the Stanford Cardinal baseball team will be making a trip to Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series.  This afternoon at Sunken Diamond, the Cardinal won their ninth consecutive game with a 5-3 victory over the USC Trojans to win the best-of-three game series 2-to-0.  Trailing 2-1, Stanford pushed across four runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead which they not relinquish.  Tim Cunningham picked up the win on the mound with Dan Rich recording the save.

The Trojans (37-24) jumped on the scoreboard first with a single tally in the bottom of the second off Cunningham.  Bill Peavey led off with a walk and then after a Joey Metropoulos strike out, Cunningham walked Michael Moon and then hit David Gordon with a pitch to load the bases.  Michael Morales was the next batter and the Trojan left fielder hit a fly ball to center field that was plenty deep enough to score Peavey from third to put the Trojans ahead 1-0.  Cunningham then got Jon Brewster to ground out to end the inning in what certainly could have been a much bigger inning for USC.

Stanford (45-16) evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning off SC starter Cory Campos when with two outs, Jason Cooper singled and then scored on a double off the bat of Carlos Quentin.  Quentin was out on the basepaths though trying to stretch it into a triple.  Cunningham meanwhile settled down after the rough second inning and put up zeros in the third and fourth frames still without allowing a hit.  But in the bottom of the fifth with one out, Brewster broke up the no-hitter with a triple and two batters later came home to score on a single by Brian Barre.  Once again though the damage could have been much worse but Cunningham got #3 hitter Alberto Concepcion to ground into a 3-6-1 double play to end the threat.

Down 2-1, the Cardinal took the lead for good with four runs in the top of the sixth inning off Campos.  With two out and nobody on base, Ryan Garko hit a weak ground ball to third only to have third baseman Jon Brewster throw the ball past Bill Peavey at first and into the SC dugout.  It was scored as a hit and an error as Garko reached second base.  Jason Cooper was the next hitter and he grounded a ball to first base that Peavey mishandled which allowed Cooper to reach first base and Garko moved over to third.  After Carlos Quentin walked to load the bases, Scott Dragicevich delivered the big hit with a single into center field scoring both Garko and Cooper to put Stanford ahead 3-2.  Brian Hall was next and he blooped a single into right field scoring Quentin and then Andy Topham singled to left scoring Dragicevich for a 5-2 advantage.

Cunningham was pulled from the game after giving up a two-out double to Michael Moon in the bottom of sixth in favor of Ryan McCally and the junior right hander was able to get out of the jam by getting Kris Cox to fly out.  The Trojans scored an unearned run off McCally in the bottom of the seventh as Travis McAndrews led off by reaching on an infield single and then advanced to second when O'Riordan threw the ball away.  McAndrews would later score on a Anthony Lunetta sacrifice fly to left field.

McCally was taken out of the game with a runner on first base and two out in the bottom of eighth as Dan Rich was summoned from the bullpen.  Rich struck out Moon to retire the side and then went back to work in the bottom of the ninth.  With the score still 5-3 Cardinal,  Rich struck out Nick Mosich to start things off, but then gave up a single to Matt Bonovich.  With the tying run at the plate though, Rich settled down and got Jon Brewster to pop out and then got Anthony Lunetta to hit a ground ball right back to the mound to end the game and send Stanford to the College World Series.

Game Notes :
* Tim Cunningham finished his afternoon with 5 2/3 innings pitched yielding two runs on four hits.  He walked four and struck out two and saw his record improve to 10-2 on the year.  Dan Rich recorded his second save of the Super Regional and his fifth of the season.

* Scott Dragicevich was the offensive hero for Stanford today with a 4-for-4 afternoon.  The senior third baseman now has a nine-game hitting streak.

* All four runs the Cardinal scored in the sixth inning were unearned.

* Stanford finishes the 2002 season with a 29-4 home record.  They also ended the season with a nine-game home winning streak.

Stanford      0 0 0  1 0 4  0 0 0    -    5   10    1
USC           0 1 0  0 1 0  1 0 0    -    3    6    3

Stanford will open the CWS on either Friday or Saturday versus Florida State or Notre Dame.  The Irish knocked off FSU 10-4 in Game One on Friday night, but had Game Two postponed today because of rain.  The second game of that Super Regional will be tomorrow at 10:30 am (PST) while Game Three will now be on Monday (if necessary).  An announcement of the date and time of Stanford's first CWS game will come on Monday afternoon.

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