Top-Ranked Baseball To Face No. 8 USC In Nationally Televised Game

April 21, 2001

Stanford is the nation's top-ranked team in all three major national polls for the second week in a row ... Stanford has been the nation's No. 1 team in the Baseball America poll for six consecutive weeks ... First-place Stanford and second-place USC will continue their key three-game series Saturday and Sunday in Los Angeles ... The Cardinal entered the series with a 2.0 game lead on the Trojans in the Pac-10 race but the Trojans pulled within 1.0 game of the Cardinal with a 2-1 victory in the series-opener on Friday ... USC's Mark Prior struck out 12 batters as he outdueled Stanford's Jeremy Guthrie ... USC's Alberto Concepcion led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo homer that snapped a 1-1 tie ... Stanford has won 17 consecutive regular season series and 10 straight Pac-10 regular season series dating back to last year but will need to win both remaining games of this series with the Trojans to keep the streaks alive ... Stanford's current two-game losing streak is the only time the team has lost back-to-back games all season ... Stanford has won three straight regular season series against the Trojans with USC's last series victory coming when the Trojans won two-of-three games at Stanford (4/16/99-4/18/99) ... The Cardinal lost the opening game of the series at USC last year before coming back for victories in the second and third games ... Stanford also had a pair of victories over the Trojans (1-0, 5-3) in the 1999 NCAA Super Regional, the only two times the teams have met in post-season action ... Today's game could be another classic pitching matchup as Jeff Bruksch (8-0, 2.25) and Rik Currier (7-1, 2.31) square off ... Bruksch has won eight of his last nine starts, while Currier's only loss this season was at Stanford (4/10) ... Bruksch has given up just five earned runs in his last 62.2 innings for an 0.72 ERA over that period ... Stanford swept the Trojans in a three-game non-conference series earlier this season and won four of the six games played between the teams last year, winning two-of-three both in Los Angeles (Pac-10 games) and at Stanford (non-conference games) ... Mike Gosling (3-0, 2.93) will face Anthony Reyes (1-2, 4.81) on Sunday ... Stanford has won 17 of its last 21 games ... The Cardinal is attempting to win its fifth straight Pac-10 baseball title (includes Southern Division and co-titles) ... Stanford is 19-3 at Sunken Diamond this year, while posting a 12-6 road mark ... Eight of Stanford's nine losses this season have been by one run ... Stanford is 10-3 against ranked teams this season (according to Baseball America) ... Stanford leads the Pac-10 in both ERA (3.00) and fielding percentage (.977), also leading the nation in fielding percentage ... The Cardinal has been errorless in 20 of 40 games, including four of its last five ... Stanford's team batting average currently sits at .305 ... Sam Fuld leads the team in batting average (.352) and on-base percentage (.459) ... Chris O'Riordan is the club's leader in homers (8), RBI (46), stolen bases (13), hits (54) and total bases (89) ... Jason VanMeetren leads the club in doubles (13) and triples (3), while Arik VanZandt has scored a team-high 37 runs.

Stanford and USC will continue a Pac-10 showdown tseries in Los Angeles this Saturday-Sunday, April 21-22 (1 pm, 1 pm). Saturday's game will be televised live nationally by FOX Sports Net. Stanford's Pac-10 lead over the Trojans was cut to one game with a 2-1 victory by USC in the series opener. USC ace Mark Prior (11-1) struck out 12 in a complete game and Alberto Concepcion hit a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the eighth and snap a 1-1 tie. The Cardinal swept USC in a three-game non-conference series earlier this season (March 9-11). Jeremy Guthrie pitched a six-hit shutout to outduel Prior and hand him his only loss this season in a 2-0 Stanford win in the opener. Chris O'Riordan contributed a pair of RBI for the Cardinal. Stanford's offense exploded in a 15-3 win over the Trojans on Saturday. Scott Dragicevich (3-4) paced Stanford's 15-hit attack, while Jeff Bruksch (8.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO) picked up the victory. The Cardinal then came back for a dramatic 9-5, 10-inning win in Sunday's finale after being behind 5-0 after four and a half innings. Andy Topham's dramatic walk-off grandslam homer in the bottom of the 10th inning completed the comeback. Topham (4-5, 2B, HR, 6 RBI, SB) finished the day with career-highs of four hits and six RBI. Carlos Quentin was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Stanford also won four of the six games between the teams last season, winning two-of-three non-conference games at Sunken Diamond (3/17-3/19, W, 4-3, L, 7-11, W, 11-4) and two-of-three Pac-10 games at Dedeaux Field (4/20-4/22, L, 3-7, W, 4-1, W, 18-4). USC leads the all-time series, 195-137-3.

Stanford had a six-game win streak snapped with a 5-4 loss to USF at Sunken Diamond in a non-conference game Tuesday to open this week's play. The Cardinal fell behind 3-0 after the first inning and a half as USF held on for its eighth straight victory. Stanford has now lost seven of its eight games by a single run. The Cardinal cut USF's lead to 4-3 on a two-run homer by Scott Dragicevich in the bottom of the fourth inning. Stanford trailed 5-3 when the Cardinal loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth frame but could only manage one run on a sacrifice fly by Andy Topham. Last weekend, Stanford swept Oregon State in a three-game series. The Cardinal began the sweep with a 4-1 victory in the series opener last Thursday. Jeremy Guthrie struck out a career-high 11 batters and limited the Beavers to five hits and one run over the first 8.0 innings. Stanford came back with an 8-1 win on Friday as Jeff Bruksch tossed his second career complete game. Bruksch scattered five hits and one run, while striking out eight and walking none. Ryan Garko (4-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) and Chris O'Riordan (4-4, 2B, HR, RBI) had four hits each, while Topham (3-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI) picked up three. Stanford completed the sweep with a 22-5 victory on Saturday in a game that was shortened to seven innings due to a Pac-10 getaway day rule. The 22 runs were a season-high for the Cardinal as Arik VanZandt (2-4, HR, 6 RBI) and Carlos Quentin (2-3, 2B, HR, 5 RBI) both established new career-high RBI totals. Sam Fuld (4-5, 2 RBI) and Brian Hall (4-5, 2 RBI) had four hits each, while O'Riordan was 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBI.

One of the nation's premier collegiate coaches, Mark Marquess is now in his 25th season as the Stanford head coach. Marquess has a career record of 1026-507-5 (.669) at Stanford, including an impressive 421-276 (.604) mark in Pacific-10 Conference action, arguably the toughest league in the nation. The 1969 Stanford graduate has led the Cardinal to two NCAA titles (1987, `88), 10 College World Series appearances (1982, `83, `85, `87, `88, `90, `95, `97, `99, `00), 10 Pac-10 regular season titles (1983, `84, `85, `87, `90, `94, `97, `98, `99, `00) and 18 NCAA Tournament showings. Marquess became the 23rd head coach in the history of NCAA Division I baseball to reach the 1000-career win mark when the Cardinal defeated Florida State earlier this season on February 9, 2001. He began the 2001 season ranked 14th in victories and 19th in winning percentage among active Division I baseball coaches. He has been named NCAA Coach of the Year three times and has received Pacific-10 Coach of the Year honors on eight occasions, including three of the last four seasons. Marquess was named the Pac-10 Southern Division Coach of the Year seven times before being named the first Pac-10 Coach of Year in the newly aligned conference (1999). Last season, Marquess coached the Cardinal to its first trip to the College World Series title game since winning the 1988 CWS championship. His teams have won NCAA Super Regionals each of the last two seasons, as well as at least a share of a Pac-10 baseball championship (includes Southern Division championships) for a school-record four straight seasons. Nearly as eye-opening as the number of titles won by the Cardinal is the consistent level of success Marquess has brought to the program. The Cardinal has suffered just one losing season during his tenure and has finished either first or second in the prestigious Pacific-10 (formerly Six-Pac) 18 times in the last 20 seasons. Stanford has had 95 professional baseball draft picks in the past 16 seasons, including 12 first-round selections in the last 14 years. A member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Marquess was the head coach of the 1988 United States Olympic baseball team that captured the Gold Medal. Marquess was an accomplished football and baseball standout on The Farm and is a member of the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame. He is one of only six collegiate head baseball coaches to have both played and coached in the College World Series. Marquess was the starting first baseman on Stanford's 1967 College World Series squad and played five years of minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox organization.

(On USC's 2-1 victory in the series opener Friday night) 'Prior and Guthrie are two of the better pitchers in the Pac-10 and this was a classic pitching matchup. Obviously, the big homer by Concepcion in the bottom of the eighth was the difference in the game.'

(On the USC series) 'This is a big series in that the two teams are in first and second place in the Pac-10 standings. Obviously, it's big, but all of the games are big. It should be a good series with first place in the conference at stake. To be successful in the series, it's really no different than on any given weekend. We need to pitch well and play good defense first. But, both teams do that well already. I think the difference will be whichever team hits better and comes up with some clutch hitting.'

(On the state of the team's offense) 'A lot of people come around offensively at this time of the year. As the season goes on, the weather gets better, the ground gets harder and the wind blows a little bit more. It's a lot more conducive to offense the later you go in the year. Pitchers normally dominate early. They're ready to go a little sooner than the hitters. All of that is natural, but we also have a couple of guys that like Sam Fuld and Ryan Garko who have started to swing the bat very well recently.'

(On the state of the team heading into the USC series) 'I think we've surprised a lot of people, including myself. I don't think many people expected us to be in first place halfway through the league schedule. I would still say that because of their experience that USC would still be favored (to win the league) even though we have a two-game lead. The regular season championship is still very much up for grabs.'

Dean Stotz is in his 25th campaign with Stanford Baseball. Stotz was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2000 season after 23 years as an assistant. Stotz currently coaches third base while also handling various offensive and defensive aspects of the game. Mark O'Brien (3rd season) and Tom Kunis (2nd season) complete the Cardinal coaching staff. O'Brien assists with all aspects of the game and serves as the Cardinal's first base coach. Kunis is the team's pitching coach.

Stanford is the unanimous No. 1 team in all three major national collegiate baseball polls (Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, Baseball Weekly/ESPN) for the second consecutive week. The Cardinal has been Baseball America's top team for six consecutive weeks but moved up from No. 2 to No. 1 in the other two polls on April 9 to give the Cardinal its first unanimous No. 1 ranking in 2001. Stanford, which has now been ranked No. 1 at one point during each of the past five years, was the nation's unanimous top team in the 2000 preseason polls but did not return to that status until April 9. Stanford opened the 2001 season ranked # 9 by Baseball Weekly/ESPN, #11 by Collegiate Baseball and #14 by Baseball America. USC (#8 Baseball America, #7 Collegiate Baseball, #9 Baseball Weekly/ESPN) and Arizona State (#15 Baseball America, #17 Collegiate Baseball, #14 Baseball Weekly/ESPN) are the Pac-10's other ranked clubs. The Cardinal finished the 2000 campaign ranked No. 2 in all three polls after opening the season at No. 1 before dropping out of the top spot on February 14, 2000. Stanford's poll history includes a run as 'king of the polls' in 1998 when the team held the top spot in the Baseball America poll for the entire regular season (a record 14 consecutive weeks).

Stanford's storied baseball program has had many highlights as the program is currently in its 108th season and has an all-time record of 2259-1439-32 (.610). Last year's trip to the College World Series championship game was only the latest chapter in the success story of Stanford Baseball. The program has produced 35 winning seasons over the last 36 campaigns (also 52 of last 54), including six consecutive years with 40 or more wins. Just a few of the highlights have included back-to-back NCAA titles (1987, 1988), 12 College World Series appearances, 18 conference titles and 21 NCAA Tournament berths. Stanford has boasted a total of 40 All-Americans who have earned a total of 47 All-American honors. Stanford has also garnered three NCAA Player of the Year choices in Jeff Austin (1998), David McCarty (1991) and Steve Dunning (1970). Other numbers for the Cardinal Baseball program include 93 all-conference players earning a total of 118 honors, 55 major league players (including seven that are currently playing Major League Baseball) and 12 first round draft picks in the last 14 years. Eight members of the 2000 Stanford Baseball team signed professional contracts following the 2000 collegiate season, including first-round draft picks Justin Wayne and Joe Borchard.

Stanford increased its regular season series winning streak to 17 by sweeping Oregon State (4/12/01 - 4/14/01). Stanford has swept seven of the series and won two-of-three in the other 10 series. The last team to beat the Cardinal in a regular season series was Arizona State when the Sun Devils won two-of-three in Tempe (3/31/00 - 4/2/00) more than a year ago. Below is a look at Stanford's 17 consecutive regular season series victories. For good measure, the Cardinal also won two-of-three games over both Alabama (5/27/00 - 5/28/00) and Nebraska (6/2/00 - 6/4/00) in last year's NCAA Regional and Super Regional.

Stanford's team batting average currently sits at .305. The Cardinal hit .418 (74-177) over its previous five games before collecting just five hits in the opener of the USC series. The five-game offensive explosion began with an 18-13 victory over Nevada (4/10) as the Cardinal picked up a season-high 23 hits. Stanford then scored a season-best 22 runs in a 22-5 win over Oregon State (4/14) to complete a three-game sweep of the Beavers. The Cardinal, which has moved up to fourth in the Pac-10 in hitting, has now racked up 10 or more hits in five of its last seven games and has been in double digit hits 21 times this season. The Cardinal is hitting .329 in 13 Pac-10 games. Sam Fuld leads the team in batting average (.352), on base percentage (.459) and is a co-leader in bases on balls (21). Chris O'Riordan paces the squad in homers (8), RBI (46), stolen bases (13), hits (54), total bases (89) and is a co-leader in bases on balls (21). Jason VanMeetren is the team leader in doubles (13) and triples (3), while Arik VanZandt has a team-high 37 runs scored. Jason Cooper has a team-high .667 slugging percentage and Carlos Quentin has been hit by a team-high nine pitches. Scott Dragicevich (.342), Quentin (.338), O'Riordan (.333), Ryan Garko (.333), Cooper (.333) and VanMeetren (.329) join Fuld with batting averages over .300. Stanford has totaled 41 home runs, 257 RBI and 64 stolen bases for the season, compared to 22 home runs, 117 RBI and 15 stolen bases for its opponents.

The Stanford pitching staff leads the Pac-10 with a team ERA of 3.00. The last time the Cardinal finished a season with a lower ERA was when the 1973 club posted a final ERA of 2.64. Opponents are hitting only .225 off Cardinal pitching. The current starting rotation of Jeremy Guthrie (8-2, 1.69), Jeff Bruksch (8-0, 2.25) and Mike Gosling (3-0, 2.93) has combined for a 19-2 record and a 2.11 ERA. Bruksch has recorded five straight victories and won eight of his last nine starts. Guthrie (NCBWA Pitcher of the Week, 2/13) and Bruksch (Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, 2/26) have both earned one national honor this year. In addition, both have been named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week twice (Bruksch - 2/27, 4/9, Guthrie - 3/6, 3/13). Bruksch has given up just five earned runs over his last 62.2 innings for an 0.72 ERA over that period, including separate scoreless inning streaks of 19.0 and 15.0 during the period. Gosling, who started the team's season-opener at Cal Poly (1/21), has returned to the starting rotation as the club's third starter and won two consecutive Pac-10 starts. He made his first Pac-10 start versus UCLA (4/8) and held the Bruins to only one run and three hits in 8.0 innings. He picked up another victory against Oregon State (4/14). Tim Cunningham (4-0, 3.48) had been the team's third starter for most of the season before Gosling's return. Mike Wodnicki (3-1, 4.03, 4 SV) has been the team's leader out of the bullpen with a team-high 17 appearances. John Hudgins (1-5, 6.39, 4 SV) has four saves as well but also has five of the team's nine losses. J.D. Willcox (2-0, 0.52, 2 SV) and Ryan McCally (1-1, 2.82, 2 SV) have been effective out of the bullpen as well. Jason Luker also has a win out of the bullpen. Guthrie leads the club in both strikeouts (82) and innings pitched (85.0). The Cardinal staff has six shutouts and four complete games in its first 40 contests with Bruksch and Guthrie both recording two complete games. The staff has held its opponents to three or fewer runs in 26 games.

Stanford's defense is currently fielding at a .977 clip that would rank as the best fielding percentage in school history, .005 percentage points above the school record of .972 reached three times between 1991-2000. Stanford has been errorless in four of its last five games and 20 of 40 games overall. Stanford was perfect defensively for four consecutive games from March 25-31. Second baseman Chris O'Riordan leads the Pac-10 in assists (146). O'Riordan has recorded a team-high seven assists three times, while shortstop Scott Dragicevich has also reached the figure once. First baseman Arik VanZandt recorded 15 putouts in a loss at Fresno State (1/27), more than last year's season-high of 13 recorded nine times during the 2000 season. VanZandt has committed just two errors in 409 chances for a .995 fielding percentage, while backup catcher Ken Tirpack (136 chances) remains flawless. The starting infield of O'Riordan, Dragicevich, VanZandt and third baseman Andy Topham has made just 19 errors between them for a fielding percentage of .979. Dragicevich had a stretch of 12 consecutive games (1/26-2/18) without an error at shortstop and only one over a 23-game period (1/26-3/23).

Stanford's current regular starting pitching rotation of Jeremy Guthrie (8-2, 1.69), Jeff Bruksch (8-0, 2.25) and Mike Gosling (3-0, 2.93) has a record of 19-2 with a 2.11 ERA this season. Tim Cunningham (4-0, 3.58) was the third starter for most of the season before the return of Gosling to the starting rotation. The foursome has a 23-2 record.

Andy Topham (15 games), Sam Fuld (13 games) and Jason VanMeetren (11 games) all saw long career-high hitting streaks come to an end last week. VanMeetren's was the first to end when he was 0-for-3 with three walks, a sacrifice fly and two RBI at Nevada (4/10). Topham's 15-game streak, the longest by a Stanford player this season, came to an end when he went 0-for-3 in the first game of the Oregon State series (4/12). Fuld's streak lasted one more day before he was 0-for-3 versus the Beavers on April 13. Stanford has had six hitting streaks of 11 or more games this season. Carlos Quentin and Andy Topham have the longest current streaks at four games (4/13-4/20).

One of the most notable changes in this year's Cardinal team is its success on the base paths. Stanford has 64 stolen bases in 87 attempts through its first 40 games, already surpassing its season total of 55 a year ago. The Cardinal is averaging 1.6 steals per contest, double the 0.8 steals per game the club averaged a year ago. Chris O'Riordan leads the club with 13 stolen bases, while Arik VanZandt and Andy Topham are tied for second with eight each. Sam Fuld and Jason VanMeetren have seven each, followed by Scott Dragicevich and Brian Hall with five. Of Stanford's 14 most prominent positions players, 13 of them have at least two stolen bases. Stanford opponents have had little success running on the Cardinal with 15 thefts in 25 attempts.

It may seem like a long shot but Jeremy Guthrie (1.69 ERA) still has an opportunity to make a run at the school's single-season ERA mark. The best single-season ERA ever put up by a Cardinal pitcher was the 1.10 ERA by Harvey Shank in 1968.

Chris O'Riordan currently ranks sixth on Stanford's career batting average list with a mark of .352 (128-364). O'Riordan had threatened to enter the list ahead of current leader Jack Shepard (.362, 1951-53) before a midseason slump. He dropped to as far as 10th at one point before moving back up to second by going 17-for-33 (.515) during his recent eight-game hitting streak (4/3-4/14). He has dropped to sixth after going 0-for-8 in his last two games.

Stanford's 31-9 record includes a 10-3 mark against teams ranked among the nation's Top 25 in the Baseball America poll at the time the Cardinal faced them. The Cardinal has only three more games (at USC, 4/20-4/22) scheduled against teams currently ranked among BA's Top 25.

Stanford has lost eight of its nine games by a single run and is 2-8 overall in one-run games this season. The Cardinal has fared a little better in extra inning games with a 3-2 mark in those games, including three straight victories.

* The Pac-10 coaches picked Stanford to finish third in their annual preseason poll. USC finished first with six first-place votes, while second-place Arizona State and Stanford picked up the other two first-place votes.
* Stanford has more than doubled its opponents scoring this season with 281 runs while opponents have crossed the plate only 132 times.
* Stanford has drawn better than 2,000 fans in eight of its last 13 home games, including a season-best 2,973 versus USC on March 11 and the season's best weeknight crowd (2249) in its most recent game against USF. The Cardinal has also been a big draw on the road, drawing 2,000 or more spectators for 11 of 18 road contests.

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