No. 1 Stanford Moves Into First-Place In Pac-10 With 8-2 Win Over USC

May 23, 2004

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    Stanford, Calif. - No. 1 Stanford (42-11, 14-7 Pac-10) moved back into first-place in the Pac-10 with an 8-2 win over USC (23-30, 9-12 Pac-10) in the rubber game of a three-game conference series played before a season-high crowd of 3499 Sunday on Youth Baseball Day at Sunken Diamond. Stanford's win coupled with a 4-3 victory by UCLA (31-26, 12-9 Pac-10) over Washington (35-17-1, 15-9 Pac-10) put the Cardinal one-half game ahead of the Huskies, who completed their Pac-10 schedule with Sunday's loss to the Bruins.

    Jonny Ash (3-4, 3B, 4 RBI) had three hits and tied a career-high with four RBI to lead Stanford's 12-hit attack, while Matt Leva (5-1) picked up the victory with 4.0 hitless of work as the Cardinal starter in a predetermined pitching rotation. Leva retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, allowing only a one-out walk to Jon Brewster in the fourth inning.

    'I was happy to be back in the lineup and just wanted to do anything to help the team win,' said Ash, who had missed 15 games due to an injury before returning to hit .462 (6-13) in the three-game series versus USC.

    'I knew it was a prearranged number of innings I was going to pitch today,' said Leva, who came out of the game with a no-hitter after four complete innings. 'I'm satisfied.'

    'This was a solid all-around team effort today in terms of hitting, pitching and defense,' added Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. 'We played well in a game that was important, and I'm pleased with that.'

    Chris Minaker (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI) and Brian Hall (2-5, RBI) also had two hits each for the Cardinal, while Danny Putnam (1-3) extended his hit streak to a new career-high 13 games with a third inning single. Putnam has hit safely in 25 of his last 26 contests.

    Eight of Stanford's nine starters had at least one hit as the Cardinal outhit the Trojans, 12-6, to reach the double-digit hit mark for the 40th time this season.

    Three Stanford relief pitchers - Blake Holler (0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 SO), Kodiak Quick (2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) and Matt Manship (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 SO) - limited the Trojans to two runs and six hits with five strikeouts over the final five frames.

    Michael Moon (2-5) was the only USC player with more than one hit.

    USC starter Josh Rummonds (2-4) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over the fist 5.0 innings.

    Stanford did fail to hit a home run for the fifth 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.

    'We try to score runs however we can,' said Putnam. 'It's nice to hit home runs, but if you don't, you need to do enough of the little things right, and we were able to do that for the most part in this series.'

    Stanford will conclude its 2004 regular season schedule with a three-game home series versus No. 19 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.

    Stanford will come into the series needing to win two-of-three against Arizona State to pick up its second consecutive outright Pac-10 title. The Sun Devils had won 11 in a row before falling 13-7 at Arizona on Sunday. One Stanford win in the series would assure the Cardinal of at least a share of the conference championship with Washington. Arizona State (39-14, 12-9 Pac-10) is currently tied for third-place in the Pac-10 with UCLA (31-26, 12-9 Pac-10) and would need a sweep of the Cardinal to gain a piece of the Pac-10 title. UCLA, who plays at Oregon State in its final regular season series next Friday-Sunday, could still earn a share of the Pac-10 title with a sweep of the Beavers if Arizona State wins at least two games against the Cardinal.

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

    The Cardinal scored its six first runs of Sunday's contest via two-out rallies.

    Stanford jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Donny Lucy beat out a one-out an infield single to start the rally. Ryan Seawell drew a walk two batters later to keep the inning alive before Minaker hit a shallow fly ball that turned into a two-RBI double when USC rightfielder Cyle Hankerd took a step back and then couldn't come up with a catch on a diving attempt. Sam Fuld then drew a walk before Ash capped the rally by tripling down the right field line to score Minaker and Fuld.

    Ash singled home a run the next time he came to the plate in the fourth after Minaker had walked with one out and moved to second on a groundout by Fuld.

    Quick helped the Cardinal maintain its early 5-0 lead when he came on in relief of Holler with runners on first and second base with one out in the top of the fifth and got Stanford out of the jam.

    Stanford picked up another run after two were out in the sixth when Fuld walked, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Ash.

    USC finally got on the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the seventh. Baron Frost drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a groundout by Dale Legaspi and third on a wild pitch from Quick before scoring on an RBI groundout by Garrett Gipe. Moon restarted the rally with a two-out single and scored when Brewster doubled down the left field line.

    Stanford finished off the scoring with a pair of runs in the eighth. The rally started when Ash was hit by a pitch before Jed Lowrie followed with a single and Putnam moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. John Mayberry, Jr. was then walked intentionally before Legaspi dropped a sacrifice fly by Lucy in right field, allowing Lucy to reach safely and the Cardinal to keep the bases loaded for Brian Hall, who came through with an RBI single to score Lowrie with an unearned run.

    Stanford left 12 runners on base, while the Trojans stranded nine.

    USC turned a pair of double plays, while the Cardinal had its first twin killing of the series. USC committed two of the game's three errors. Stanford's error dropped its fielding percentage one point to .974, which is three percentage points shy of the school record .977 mark set by the 2001 club.

    Fuld (1-3) picked up the 350th hit of his Stanford career with a single to lead off the bottom of the first inning, pulling him within 18 of all-time Stanford and Pac-10 leader John Gall (368, 1997-2000). Fuld is already the all-time Stanford and Pac-10 leader for runs scored (262) and at bats (1044), while also ranking among Stanford's leaders in triples (16, #3T) and doubles (58, #6T). Fuld played in his 246th consecutive game, while making his 163rd straight start for the Cardinal.

    Lowrie (1-3) ran his hit streak to seven games but saw his season batting average drop three points to .413, which would currently rank third on Stanford's all-time single season list and 17 percentage points behind the school record of .430 set by Tom Williams in 1972.

    Stanford extended its season series win streak to five in a row over the Trojans by taking four of the six games played between the teams this year. USC last won a season series against the Cardinal when the Trojans captured all six games between the clubs in 1996. The squads also split six games in 1999.

    Stanford also improved to 25-2 at Sunken Diamond this season with the victory and won for the 34th time in its last 36 home games overall as the Cardinal avoided losing three consecutive regular season three-game series for the first time since 1995 (at Cal State Fullerton, February 3-5; versus Fresno State, February 10-12; versus Santa Clara, February 18-20). Stanford also avoided losing its third straight Pac-10 series for the first time since dropping its final three conference series of the 1993 campaign at Arizona State (April 30 - May 2), versus California (May 7-9) and versus UCLA (May 21-23).

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