Stanford Reaches CWS For Fourth Straight Year With 5-3 Win Over USC

June 8, 2002

Stanford, Calif. - Stanford (45-16) advanced to the College World Series for a record fourth straight year with a 5-3 victory over USC (37-24) to complete an NCAA Super Regional sweep of the Trojans on Saturday at Sunken Diamond. Scott Dragicevich (4-4, 2 RBI) tied a career-high with four hits and had a key bases loaded two-RBI single to highlight a four-run Cardinal rally in the top of the sixth inning that erased a 2-1 USC lead. Stanford remained unbeaten in the 2002 NCAA Tournament with a 5-0 record, extended its season-high win streak to nine games and defeated USC for the seventh time in eight meetings this year.Stanford's senior class of Dragicevich, Chris O'Riordan, Dan Rich, Andy Topham, Arik VanZandt and J.D. Willcox becomes the first group of Cardinal players to ever qualify for the College World Series in each of its four years.

'I'm very proud of this senior class and the reason they're special is that they didn't come into Stanford as stars,' said head coach Mark Marquess. 'A lot of them had to wait a year or two to play and when they got their chance, they led by example in practice and games, and my hat is off to them. All six of them have been instrumental to our success.'

'One thing we've tried to tell the younger guys all year is how hard it is to get to Omaha and how many things have to go right,' added O'Riordan, who extended his consecutive games started streak to 172. 'We've had a lot of things go right for us over the past four years, and we've had some clutch performances by a lot of players. It's unbelievably exciting; it's what we've been working for all year, every year. It should be fun going with all six seniors, we've really grown up together.'

Stanford has finished as the CWS runner-up in each of the last two seasons and has two national titles to its credit in 1987 and 1988.

Stanford remained unbeaten in Super Regional series since the format was implemented in 1999.Tim Cunningham (10-2) picked up his fifth victory in his last five starts, limiting the Trojans to two runs and four hits over the first 5.2 innings. Ryan McCally pitched 2.0 effective innings of middle relief, giving up only one hit and an unearned run before Rich came on to record his third save of the postseason and his fifth save of the year by getting the final four outs.

Stanford's four runs in the top of the sixth inning were all unearned and scored after the first two Cardinal hitters of the inning were retired. Ryan Garko began the rally when he beat out an infield single that trickled down the third base line and ended up on second base when Trojan third baseman Jon Brewster threw the ball wildly in attempt to retire Garko at first base. The inning stayed alive when USC first baseman Bill Peavey made an error on a ground ball hit by Jason Cooper to put Cardinal runners on first and third. Carlos Quentin then walked to load the bases before Dragicevich drilled a 3-1 pitch from USC starter and losing pitcher Cory Campos (6-3) into rightcenter field to put the Cardinal ahead 3-2. Brian Hall and Andy Topham followed with back-to-back RBI singles for the final two Cardinal runs of the inning.

USC picked up an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the score to 5-3 when pinch-hitter Travis McAndrews led off with an infield single and advanced to second on the play on an errant throw by O'Riordan at second base. McAndrews then moved to third base on a fly ball by Brewster and scored on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Lunetta.

USC opened the game's scoring in the bottom of the second inning, scoring a single run without the benefit of a hit. Peavey drew a walk from Cunningham to lead off the inning and Michael Moon walked with one out to put runners on first and second base. Cunningham then hit David Gordon with a pitch to load the bases before Michael Morales drove home Peavey with a sacrifice fly.

Stanford tied the score 1-1 in the top of the fourth when Cooper singled with two outs and scored on an RBI double by Quentin.

USC regained the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Brewster tripled with one out and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Brian Barre.

The Cardinal finished its home season with a 29-4 record at Sunken Diamond. Stanford came from behind to win for the 20th time in 45 victories this season.

Cunningham improved to 21-4 in his Stanford career (.850), moving into a sixth-place tie on Stanford's all-time won-loss percentage list.

The first round dates and times of the 2002 College World Series will be announced on Monday, June 10. Stanford will play the winner of the Florida State-Notre Dame Super Regional in a first round game at the 2002 College World Series. Notre Dame won the first game of the series on Friday before the teams were rained out on Saturday. The Super Regional is scheduled to resume on Sunday with a third game, if necessary, scheduled for Monday.

The 56th College World Series runs from Friday, June 14 - Sunday, June 22. The Cardinal will enter the CWS unbeaten in postseason play for the seventh time in school history.

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