Stanford Ends Regular Season With 8-2 Win Over Washington State
May 26, 2002
Stanford, Calif. - No. 8 Stanford (40-16, 16-8 Pac-10) ended its regular season with an 8-2 win over Washington State (21-33, 6-18 Pac-10) on Sunday at Sunken Diamond to complete a three-game sweep and finish in sole possession of second place in the final conference standings. The Cardinal finished one game behind outright Pac-10 champion USC (34-22, 17-7 Pac-10), who secured its second straight conference title and the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth with a 13-3 win at UCLA on Sunday to also complete a three-game sweep. Washington (30-25-1, 15-9 Pac-10) dropped a 5-2 decision to Arizona to fall into a third place tie with Arizona State (35-19, 15-9 Pac-10), a 5-2 winner over Oregon State.
The 64-team field for the 2002 NCAA Division I Baseball Championships will be announced during a live telecast on ESPN2 on Monday, May 27 (9:30 am, PDT). The sites for the 16 NCAA Regionals beginning next Friday, May 31, will also be revealed along with the eight national seeds. Stanford has hosted an NCAA Regional for each of the past six seasons, advancing all the way to the College World Series championship game in each of the last two years.
'It was good to finish off the regular season with a sweep today and have some momentum heading into the postseason,' said Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. 'I'm pleased with how the regular season finished up and now it's on to the postseason.'
The Cardinal won 11 of its final 13 Pac-10 games after falling to 5-6 in conference action at one point.
Scott Dragicevich (3-4, HR, 3 RBI) and Sam Fuld (3-5, 2B) paced the Cardinal on Sunday with three hits each. Fuld raised his season batting average to .396 with his 21st multiple-hit game in the last 24 contests and is hitting .519 (54-104) during the extended hot streak.Dragicevich broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.
'It was great to finish up my regular season strong,' said Dragicevich. 'This senior group has been fortunate enough to host an NCAA Regional in each of our first three seasons, and hopefully we can do it again.'
Tim Cunningham (8-2) tossed 5.2 no-hit innings before finally giving up back-to-back singles to Bookie Gates and Robert Stahlke that also tied the game at 1-1 after two were out in the top of the sixth. Cunningham earned a victory for the third straight start, giving up just three hits and two runs with six strikeouts in 7.2 innings.
'You can't really think about a no-hitter because so much can happen at any time in the game,' said Cunningham. 'I was more concerned to holding Washington State scoreless because we only had a one-run lead for most of the game.'
Washington State cut the Cardinal lead to 3-2 when pinch-hitter Jeff LaRue hit a solo homer with one out in the top of the eighth inning. Cunningham retired the next batter on a fly ball but was then removed with two outs in the top of the eighth. Pinch-hitter Evan Hecker singled and Gates drew a walk off Cardinal reliever Ryan McCally before Darin Naatjes came in to strike out Stahlke with the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run at first.
Stanford gave itself some breathing room with five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, marking the 25th time this season that the Cardinal has scored five or more runs in an inning. Fuld and Ryan Garko led off the inning with back-to-back singles before the Cardinal benefited from a critical error by Washington State starter Bryce Chamberlin on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Brian Hall that left the bases loaded with no outs. Chris O'Riordan gave the Cardinal its first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to score Fuld before a wild pitch and an intentional walk to Carlos Quentin reloaded the bases. Dragicevich brought home another run with an RBI single and a surprise bunt single by Arik VanZandt with the bases loaded made the score 6-2. Chris Carter finished the rally with a two-RBI double.
Naatjes recorded the first two outs of the ninth inning before giving way to senior J.D. Willcox, who struck out pinch-hitter Steve Mortimer to end the game in his final regular season appearance for the Cardinal.
Stanford scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Carter walked to lead off the inning, stole second, moved to third on a single by Fuld and scored on a sacrifice fly by Garko.
Carter (2-4, 2B, SB, 2 RBI) and VanZandt (2-4, RBI) added two hits each for the Cardinal, while no Washington State player had more than one hit.
Chamberlin (0-2) took the loss for the Cougars, scattering eight hits and six runs (four earned) over the first 7.1 innings.
Stanford has now won 14 straight games over Washington State dating back to 1978 and has won all 12 meetings since the Cougars joined the expanded Pac-10 prior to the 1999 season.
The Cardinal reached the 40-win mark for the eighth consecutive season and finished with a 24-4 regular season home record. Stanford has now also finished either first or second in the Pac-10 21 times in the last 23 seasons.