June 15, 2008


Cardinal Opportunities

Stanford uses 11-run ninth to defeat Florida State

Missed Chances for Florida State

By Ben Trittipoe



OMAHA, Neb. – Baseball is a game of opportunities, and Stanford took better advantage of the ones presented to it than Florida State in Game 1 of the 2008 College World Series.


The Cardinal took advantage of timely hits and two Seminoles errors to score 11 runs in the top of the ninth inning Saturday afternoon and defeat the Seminoles 16-5 before 20,039 at Rosenblatt Stadium.


Stanford (40-22-2) advances to a winners’ bracket contest against either Miami or Georgia at 7 p.m. ET on Monday. Florida State (54-13) falls into the losers’ bracket and will face the Miami-Georgia loser Monday at 2 p.m. ET.


The 11-run inning tied a College World Series record for the seventh time, and it was the first since Cal State-Fullerton scored 11 runs in the first inning against LSU in 1994. The game ended after 4 hours, 11 minutes, ranking as the third-longest CWS game in history.


Florida State found itself trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth before beginning a two-out rally. Facing Stanford closer Drew Storen, Tommy Oravetz and Tyler Holt singled before Jason Stidham launched his 11th home run into the first row of seats in right-center field to tie the game at 5.


But as it had done after the Seminoles pulled within 3-2 in the sixth, Stanford had an answer. Cord Phelps led off with a single and after FSU All-American Buster Posey moved from catcher to the pitcher’s mound, Toby Gerhart hit a high chopper to third for a base hit. Jason Castro followed with a potential double play ball to Florida State shortstop Tony Delmonico, but he couldn’t handle it, and all runners were safe to load the bases.


Brent Milleville followed with a sacrifice fly to center to bring home what turned out to be the winning run, with the other runners also advancing. Randy Molina was intentionally walked, and Sean Ratliff broke the game open with a two-run single. A walk and another error by Delmonico brought home two more runs. Jake Schlander had a run-scoring single and Phelps, batting for the second time in the inning, put the game away with a two-run double.


“We’re as comfortable batting in the late innings as we are in the first few,” Ratliff said. “Once we get a few hits and get a few runners on, it becomes contagious.”


“That was a huge momentum swing for us,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. “They have a great offensive team, and you can’t hold them down for long. I would have been satisfied with us scoring one run there, but we’ll take them all.”


Countered FSU coach Mike Martin: “It was just one of those games. Talk about a roller coaster. We were excited when we tied the game, then the wheels came off. But give Stanford the credit. They did a very good job of hitting in that inning and got the job done.”


The game was scoreless through three innings before Stanford drew first blood in the top of the fourth as Molina doubled for a 1-0 advantage. The Cardinal expanded its lead in the sixth as Gerhart connected for his seventh home run of the season. Castro followed with a double to left and two outs later, Ratliff singled to left to score Castro for a 3-0 lead and chase Florida State starter Matt Fairel.


The Seminoles had several opportunities to score early, but they left seven runners on base in the first five innings (10 for the game). They finally got on the scoreboard, though, in the bottom of the sixth to close within 3-2.


Dennis Guinn led off with his 19th home run, forcing Cardinal starter Jeremy Bleich from the game. Bleich, who missed two months with tendonitis in his pitching arm earlier this season, had not allowed an earned run in 25.2 innings; he allowed six hits over five innings while tying his career high with seven strikeouts.


Delmonico greeted reliever Erik Davis with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored two outs later on a single by Oravetz. Oravetz, however, was picked off first base by Stanford catcher Castro to end the threat.


The Cardinal answered with two unearned runs in the seventh. Schlander led off with a double and held at second as Phelps reached on an error, then Gerhart was hit by pitch to load the bases. Castro drew a walk to force in Schlander, then a double-play grounder brought home the fifth run.


Storen (5-3) picked up the victory thanks to the big ninth inning by Stanford. Over two innings, he allowed three hits, three runs and struck out three. John Gast (0-1) turned out to be the tough-luck loser for the Seminoles as he allowed the first base runner in the ninth.


When asked how he felt his team would respond after such a tough loss, Martin said he had faith in the Seminoles.


“Anybody you play here is very tough,” Martin said. “Our backs are against the wall to have to win four games to be able to play for the national championship. But I know our guys will come back ready to play on Monday.”