|Spartans Complete Season Sweep of Stanford With 8-5 Win|
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Andrew Rodriguez hit a go-ahead, two-run homerun in the fourth inning Tuesday to spark a four-run Spartans rally, as San Jose State completed its first season sweep of No. 7 Stanford since 1995 with an 8-5 win at Blethen Field.
"It's not as easy as it looks," said San Jose State head coach Sam Piraro. "That's a great team. They were ready for the game. We had to really play well. We had some big hits, we had some really good at-bats when we needed it. We got out of trouble when we needed to. I'm proud of the way we competed."
San Jose State scored all eight of its runs in the first four innings, running out to leads of 3-0 in the first, 4-2 in the third and 8-4 through the fourth. The Spartans have scored early in seven of their last eight games, posting a total of 17 runs in the first through third innings.
It was their four-run fourth inning, though, that put the Spartans up for good.
SPARTANS RALLY FOR THE WIN
Rodriguez's one-out homerun in the fourth that banged off the scoreboard in left-center field was his answer to a game-tying, two-run shot hit by Jake Stewart in the top half of the frame that made it 4-4.
"I was just sitting dead-red fastball, I knew it was going to come," said Rodriguez about his go-ahead homerun on a 2-0 count. "I got the pitch and hammered it. I just wanted to be a sparkplug for the offense, that's what I do from the leadoff position."
The Spartans started a brand new rally after the second out was recorded in the fourth, starting with a single from Nick Schulz, who stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Then an infield single off the end of Michael Gerlach's bat brought in Schulz and gave the Spartans a 7-4 advantage.
"I was ready to go. I think everyone was ready to go," said Schulz. "Just staying in the process and trying to barrel up balls. It was a good win for us."
"All I'm trying to do every day is have quality at-bats," said Schulz about his approach. "Trying to put good contact on the ball and whatever happens, happens. I've been seeing the ball well and it's been working out for me."
San Jose State tacked on its final run on an error by Stanford reliever Garrett Hughes. Hughes failed to put his foot on first base when covering the bag on what would have been an inning-ending groundout to first baseman Brian Ragira, scoring Lopez in the act.
TOP OF THE ORDER DOES THE JOB
The Spartans' top five in the order did all the damage, going a collective 8-for-21 with six RBIs and seven runs scored. Rodriguez finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Gerlach went 2-for-4 for his fourth multi-hit showing in his last eight games and drove in two for the second time this season against the Cardinal (28-12).
Stanford's Dean McArdle (3-1) took the loss, his first of the year, in 3 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs, two earned, on five hits and a walk. Starter John Hochstatter never recorded an out in giving up three earned runs on nine pitches in the first inning.
Rodriguez singled on the first pitch of the game from Hochstatter and stole second base on his second delivery. Jacob Valdez drew a four-pitch walk before Schulz had an RBI double down the left field line and Lopez had an RBI single to chase Hochstatter.
BULLPEN COMES THROUGH
The Spartans' bullpen struggled last week with an 8.57 ERA and .347 opponents' batting average in four games, but the relief core came out firing Tuesday against the Cardinal. Five different pitchers combined to throw five scoreless innings, including four straight shutout frames with just three hits to finish the game.
"Each guy had an assignment and we didn't have to make any changes or alterations. Each guy went out there and got his three outs or six outs," said Piraro.
Spartans reliever Kyle Hassna (2-0) earned his second win of the year with two innings of relief. Kalei Contrades recorded his second consecutive save, third of the year, by pitching a scoreless ninth and getting Brian Ragira to strike out swinging to end the game. The teams combined to use 12 pitchers in the game.
"This win is huge," said Rodriguez. "We've always had tough games against them, close games, so to finally beat them is good."
San Jose State heads out on its longest road trip of the season and first games out of California with a three-game Western Athletic Conference series at Louisiana Tech Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
San Jose State 8, Stanford 5 (May 01, 2012 at San Jose, Calif.)