No. 1 Stanford Evens Series With Dramatic 5-4 Comeback Win Over USC

May 22, 2004

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    Stanford, Calif. - No. 1 Stanford (41-11, 13-7 Pac-10) scored twice on a dramatic play in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn a 5-4 comeback win over USC (23-29, 9-11 Pac-10) on Saturday and even a three-game Pac-10 series in front of 2674 at Sunken Diamond. Pinch-hitter John Hester doubled with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and Sam Fuld grounded a single up the middle to score pinch-runner Chris Lewis with the tying run. Fuld came all the way around to score on the play when the ball rolled past USC centerfielder Daniel Perales as he was trying to come up with the ball for a possible play at the plate on Lewis.

    'My approach was just that I needed a single to tie up the game,' said Fuld. 'Once I hit it, I was out of the box quickly, because on a play like that you want to try to get to second, especially if the centerfielder makes a high throw (to the plate). I was running hard all the way and then when I saw it get under his glove, I just kept running hard. In my mind, I didn't think there was any chance I was going to score. I was just thinking about getting to third but (third base) coach (Dean) Stotz kept waving me in and I scored.'

    'It felt great and it was a great relief (to score),' Fuld continued. 'We played hard all day long and definitely needed this win today.'

    'We were fortunate today,' added Stanford head coach Mark Marquess of the team's 18th comeback victory in 41 wins this season. 'The play we scored two runs on in the eighth was very unusual, but we'll take it. But, we also earned the tie with the double by Hester and the big hit from Fuld.'

    Stanford's one-run victory broke a string of five straight losses in one-run games for the Cardinal.

    Stanford remained just one-half game behind Pac-10 leader Washington (34-17-1, 15-8 Pac-10) as the Huskies also evened their series with UCLA, defeating the Bruins by a score of 7-2 on Saturday. Stanford's seven Pac-10 losses are still one less than Washington. Third-place Arizona State (38-13, 11-8) is 2.0 games behind the Huskies and 1.5 back of the Cardinal. The Sun Devils won the first game of a three-game set at Arizona on Friday and play Saturday at 7 pm, MST.

    'Every game is important because the race is so close,' explained Marquess. 'It is more important that we play well. If we play well, then hopefully we will win, and we need to play better.'

    'Our goal first and foremost is to win the Pac-10 and this is certainly a huge win in terms of that race,' added Fuld. 'We need every win we can get.'

    Danny Putnam (2-4, 3B, RBI) extended his hit streak to a career-high-tying 12 games in the contest as he hit safely for the 24th time in his last 25 games, while Fuld (2-5, RBI) also had a pair of hits.

    Billy Hart (2-3, RBI) was the only USC player with more than one hit.

    David O'Hagan (6-1) was credited with the victory when he rebounded to pitch a scoreless ninth after USC had plated a pair of unearned runs with him in the game in the top of the eighth to take a 4-3 lead.

    USC's two-run eighth started when Jeff Clement reached on a fielding error by Stanford shortstop Chris Minaker. Blake Sharpe then moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt before back-to-back singles from Joey Metropoulos and Hart brought him home. Metropoulos gave USC a 4-3 advantage when he scored on sacrifice fly by Baron Frost.

    'It was just a matter of throwing strikes and going after the hitters,' said O'Hagan about his ninth inning recovery. 'I didn't want to let things get out of hand, so I took it one pitch at a time and just keep going after it.'

    O'Hagan improved to 13-2 lifetime on The Farm to rank tied for fourth on Stanford's all-time won-loss percentage list.

    Stanford starter Jeff Gilmore was effective in a no-decision outing, allowing just two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks with a career-high-tying eight strikeouts over the first 7.0 innings.

    'It felt like we were due for a little magic,' said Gilmore of Stanford's dramatic comeback. 'As for my performance, I did things a lot differently than I did last time at USC when they hit me pretty well.'

    Michael Friedman (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season for the Trojans, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits with one strikeout in 0.2 innings. Friedman entered the game after Austin Miller (0.2 IP, 1 SO) was injured when he made a diving catch on a foul out by Brian Hall to lead off the bottom of the eighth. USC starter Bret Butler limited the Cardinal to three runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over the first 6.2 innings.

    USC started the scoring with an unearned run in the top of the second inning to take an early 1-0 lead. Hart was hit by a pitch with one out, moved to second on a groundout by Frost and scored on an error by Cardinal second baseman Jed Lowrie.

    Stanford tied the game in its half of the second when Putnam led off with a single and Mayberry followed with an RBI double down the left field line.

    The Cardinal took a 2-1 lead with an unearned run in the third. Jonny Ash reached on a fielding error by Hart on a hard-hit groundball to the Trojan third baseman with one out. Lowrie then singled to move Ash to third before Putnam brought him home with an RBI groundout.

    USC tied the score at 2-2 in the fifth when Michael Moon stole home on a 2-2 pitch, marking the third time the Trojans had swiped home against the Cardinal this season. Moon had singled with one out to start the rally before moving to second when Jon Brewster walked and taking third on a groundout by Clement.

    Stanford retook the lead 3-2 in the sixth with a two-strike squeeze by Minaker that scored Hall, who had led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch before advancing to third when Sharpe ran out from his second base position to make a diving catch on a Chris Carter pop-up with his back to the infield.

    'Sometimes those plays work and sometimes they don't,' said Marquess about the steal of home and the suicide squeeze. 'They're risky plays, but today in both cases they worked.'

    Stanford's victory came one day after the Cardinal had its 16-game win streak at Sunken Diamond snapped. The Cardinal to 24-2 home this season.

    Both teams left nine runners on base and neither squad turned a double play. There were five errors committed in the game - three by Stanford and two by USC. The three errors by the Cardinal dropped its fielding percentage one point to .975, which is still just two percentage points shy of the school record .977 mark set by the 2001 club.

    Lowrie was 1-for-4 as his season batting average dropped three points to .416, which would currently rank third on Stanford's all-time single season list and is just 14 percentage points behind the school record of .430 set by Tom Williams in 1972.

    Fuld's two hits moved his career total to 349, pulling him within 19 of all-time Stanford and Pac-10 leader John Gall (368, 1997-2000). Fuld also played in the 252nd game of his Stanford career, moving him past Gall and into sole possession of second-place on Stanford's all-time list. Paul Carey (1987-90) is the school's all-time leader in games played with 267.

    Stanford failed to hit a home run for the fourth consecutive game, continuing its longest dry spell of the season. The Cardinal has 84 home runs on the campaign, remaining 18 long balls behind the school record of 102 set by the 1981 club.

    Stanford and USC conclude their three-game series Sunday (1 pm, PDT) in the final regular season meeting between the clubs on Stanford's annual Youth Baseball Day. Neither team has announced a starting pitcher.

    Stanford needs to win the rubber game of the series on Sunday to avoid losing three consecutive regular season three-game series for the first time since 1995 when the Cardinal lost two-of-three at Cal State Fullerton (February 3-5), versus Fresno State (February 10-12) and versus Santa Clara (February 18-20). The last time Stanford has lost three straight three-game Pac-10 series came in the final three conference series of the 1993 season when the Cardinal dropped two-of-three at Arizona State (April 30 - May 2), versus California (May 7-9) and versus UCLA (May 21-23).

    Stanford has won three of the five games versus USC this year and will be attempting to extend its season series win streak to five in a row over the Trojans. USC last won a season series against the Cardinal when the Trojans won all six games between the teams in 1996. The squads also split six games in 1999.

    Stanford will conclude its 2004 regular season schedule with a three-game home series versus Arizona State (Friday-Sunday, May 28-30, 6 pm, 1 pm, 1 pm, PDT) with the Sixth Annual Town & Country Village Fireworks Show scheduled to take place after Friday's series-opener.

    Tickets are available for all 2004 regular season Stanford Baseball home games online at gostanford.com or by calling 1-800-STANFORD.

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