Stanford Tops Long Beach State, 5-4, Advances To NCAA Regional Final

June 1, 2002

Stanford, Calif. - Stanford (42-16) advanced to an NCAA Regional championship game for the fourth consecutive year with a 5-4 victory over Long Beach State (39-20) in a second round contest of the 2002 NCAA Division I Baseball Championships on Saturday at Sunken Diamond. The Cardinal will play the 49ers again Sunday (1 pm, PDT) in the Regional championship game in a rematch after Long Beach State eliminated Cal State Fullerton (37-22) with a 4-0 victory over the Titans on Saturday night.

Stanford needs one victory to win the Regional title Sunday, while the 49ers must sweep a doubleheader to advance in the NCAA Tournament. Sunday's champion will advance to an NCAA Super Regional versus the winner of the Los Angeles Regional, either USC or BYU. The Trojans and the Cougars will take Sunday off before deciding their Regional on Monday. USC will head into the championship undefeated, while BYU has one defeat.

'This was another great game,' said Stanford head coach Mark Marquess after his team's victory over the 49ers. 'Long Beach State is a obviously a quality team. This time of the year there are no easy wins.'

The Cardinal, attempting to advance to the College World Series for the fourth straight season, established a new season-high with its sixth straight victory.

Stanford starter Tim Cunningham (9-2) carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning for the second straight outing to win for the fourth time in as many starts, limiting the 49ers to a total of four hits and three runs over the first 6.1 innings. Dan Rich notched his third save of the season by scattering three hits and one run over the final 2.2 frames.

'Tim Cunningham did a great job, and it was my job to come in and keep it down to a minimum,' said Rich. 'I just tried to get ahead of hitters and throw strikes. In the ninth, it wasn't clean, but we got the job done. We have two wins now with one more to go.'

Stanford held a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning before Long Beach State cut the lead to 5-4 on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Steve Velazco. Long Beach State stranded the tying run on third base and the winning run on second to end the game when Cardinal reliever Dan Rich retired Todd Jennings on a ground ball to second baseman Chris O'Riordan to wrap up his third save of the season. The 49ers' ninth inning rally started when Rich hit Nick Covarrubias to lead off the frame. Rich then recorded a pair of outs on a fielders choice and a strikeout before Paul Macaluso kept the rally alive with a two-out single to set up Velazco's RBI double.

Stanford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when O'Riordan led off the game with a solo homer.

The Cardinal added three runs in the top of the second to extend its margin to 4-0. Scott Dragicevich doubled with one out to start the rally and after an error on Long Beach State first baseman Chris Genung, Andy Topham drove home the first two Cardinal runs of the inning with a double before being singled home by Arik VanZandt.

Stanford led 4-0 before Long Beach State broke through for a run off Cunningham in the bottom of the sixth inning. Genung doubled to lead off the inning to break up Cunningham's no-hitter and scored on a hard-hit two-out single up the middle that deflected off the glove of Cunningham.

Long Beach State cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Covarrubias led off the inning with a single and moved to third base on a double by Paul McAnulty before scoring when Rich bounced his first pitch of the game in the dirt and by Cardinal catcher Ryan Garko. The 49ers added another run on an RBI ground out by Macaluso.

Stanford picked up an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning when Carlos Quentin doubled with one out to pick up his first hit of the Regional and came all the way around on a pair of wild pitches by Long Beach State reliever Carlos Muniz.

VanZandt (3-4, RBI) led the Stanford offense and recorded a team season-high with 18 putouts at first base. O'Riordan (2-4, HR, RBI) added two hits and Topham drove in a pair of runs. Topham also had nine assists at shortstop, bringing his two-game Regional total to 20.

The 49ers did not have a player with more than one hit.

Long Beach State starter Abe Alvarez (12-3) took the loss, giving up five runs (four earned) and eight hits in 7.1 innings.

Stanford improved to 26-4 at Sunken Diamond and won for the 10th time in 15 one-run games this season.

San Jose State (45-17) was the first team eliminated from the Regional on Saturday with a 9-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton.

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