Ryan Garko's Two-Run Walk-Off Homer In Ninth Lifts No. 1 Baseball Over Santa Clara, 8-7
Feb. 24, 2002
Stanford, Calif. - Ryan Garko's two-run walk-off homer with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted No. 1 Stanford (9-4) to a dramatic 8-7 victory over Santa Clara (5-8) in the final game of a three-game series between the Bay Area rivals on Sunday. Stanford won two-of-three games in the series and extended its regular season series winning streak to six in a row dating back to last year. Reliever Jonny Dyer (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory after getting the Cardinal out of a ninth inning jam by inducing the only batter he faced to hit into an inning-ending ground ball double play.
Sam Fuld led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single to left field, chasing Santa Clara starter Joe Diefenderfer. Garko then deposited a 1-1 pitch from Bronco reliever A.J. Ampi over the leftcenter field fence to send a crowd of 2755 on a warm afternoon at Sunken Diamond into a frenzy.
'It was a pretty big spot, and I was just trying to get the ball in the air and do something special,' said Garko after the game. 'I got a pretty good pitch and just got a hold of it. I was kind of thinking about it on deck, but you never really expect it to happen.'
Santa Clara scored five times in the top of the eighth inning to turn a 6-2 deficit into a 7-6 Bronco lead and spoil a quality pitching effort by Cardinal starter Tim Cunningham, who had limited the Broncos to two runs (one earned) and scattered four hits over his first 7.0 innings. Cunningham walked Shawn Epidendio and gave up a single to Ryan Chiarelli to open the Santa Clara eighth. Cunningham then induced A.J. LaBarbera into a possible double play ball but Cardinal second baseman Chris O'Riordan made an error on the play to load the bases. Cunningham was removed one batter later after hitting Pat Peavey to plate the first Bronco run. Stanford reliever John Hudgins forced Joey Gomes into a pop-up to third base before allowing an RBI-single to Jack Headley. The Broncos scored a second run on the play when Fuld's throw from center field sailed by Garko at the plate. David Mandley gave Santa Clara its short-lived lead with a two-RBI single to finish the Broncos scoring before Dyer came on and forced Bobby Wiginton into an inning-ending double play.
Stanford scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning when O'Riordan singled to lead off the inning and extend his season-high hitting streak to 10 games before eventually coming around to score on a sacrifice fly by Garko.
Santa Clara scored twice in the top of the second inning, picking up both runs on the same play. Epidendio singled off Cunningham's leg with two outs and runners on second and third, scoring Jim Wallace from third. Mandley scored all the way from second on the play when Cunningham threw the ball away at first base attempting to throw out Epidendio.
Stanford then scored the next five runs of the game as Donny Lucy started the Stanford rally with a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second inning.
The Cardinal put up a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 4-2 lead. Garko and Cooper began a two-out rally with back-to-back singles before Garko came around to score when LaBarbera made an error on a groundball to shortstop by Lucy that would have ended the inning. Carlos Quentin followed with an RBI single to score Cooper.
Stanford extended its lead to 6-2 with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Scott Dragicevich singled with one out in the sixth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Andy Topham. Cooper doubled with two outs in the seventh inning and scored on an RBI-single by Lucy.
Diefenderfer received no-decision in 8.0 innings, scattering 12 hits and seven runs (four earned). Ampi (0-1) picked up his first loss of the season.Wallace (2-3), Mandley (2-4, 2 RBI) and Chiarelli (2-5) had two hits each for Santa Clara.
The game was marred by seven errors, a season-high four by the Cardinal and three from the Broncos.
Stanford will next be in action when the Cardinal hosts Cal Poly in a three-game series next Friday-Sunday, March 1-3 (6 pm, 1 pm, 1 pm).