Young Cardinal Prepare for Second Straight Title Game
June 14, 2001
By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Stanford was in a similar position a year ago - one winaway from another College World Series title with one of the best pitchingstaffs in the country.
The Cardinal are back in the title game again and this time it's a group ofrelative unknowns who are on the brink of a title.
'It's kind of crazy,' coach Mark Marquess said Thursday.
Stanford (51-16) will play Miami on Saturday in the Cardinal's fourthchampionship game. Until last year, Stanford was unbeaten on the final Saturdayof the CWS. The Cardinal took a 5-2 lead into the eighth inning againstLouisiana State and ended up losing 6-5.
But the memory isn't particularly haunting to the Cardinal because hardlyany of this year's players were contributors a year ago.
'That was a great team we had last year, but this is kind of a differentteam,' said left-hander Mike Gosling (7-2), who will start Saturday. 'We'lltake something from last year but at the same time I don't think we needrevenge.'
Gosling was in the dugout last year, watching starters Justin Wayne, JasonYoung and Brian Sager carry the Cardinal. Wayne and Young went early in thedraft and Sager transferred. All but one position starter either graduated orwas drafted, leaving Marquess with a significant rebuilding task.
Gosling allowed just two hits over 7 2-3 innings against Cal State Fullertonon Sunday and the Cardinal won 5-2 in 10 innings. Guthrie, who was hit hard inthe opener last Friday, rebounded Wednesday by holding Fullerton to four hitsover seven innings in Stanford's 4-1 win.
Bruksch has been the biggest surprise, returning to the relief role he heldlast year and picking up three saves.
Gosling said not having to rely on the veterans helped with Stanford'sadjustment this year.
'I think guys kind of worried when they weren't in the game and we had tosend somebody else out there,' he said. 'It's not exactly that we'reno-names. we feel like we've got a lot of guys with real equal ability. Wedon't feel there's a fall off when you take one guy out and put another guyin.'
Marquess sees a big difference between the teams. Besides Young and Wayne,the Cardinal had high-profile players like right fielder Joe Borchard, afirst-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox and quarterback of theCardinal's 1999 Rose Bowl football team.
Marquess said the veteran nucleus led to veteran problems like getting theguys to practice hard. This year's Cardinal are a bit starry-eyed at the CWSexperience.
'We're not used to this,' Marquess said. 'My guys would stand out therefor 15 hours and sign autographs if you let them. They love this. They love itbecause they don't get it. It's not like a major league player who doesn't wantto be bothered.'
But they're not totally in awe. Other than stumbling in the early in openerand falling behind Tulane 8-0, the Cardinal have been playing very well.
'We've experienced that almost throughout the whole year. You're not surehow a young team will respond, but we've had a lot of those games now sohopefully we should be prepared for anything,' Marquess said.
Gosling will have had five days' rest by Saturday and Bruksch has onlypitched 3 1-3 innings, so Marquess is comfortable with his pitching enteringthe championship game.
Marquess was coaching the Cardinal when they won consecutive titles in 1987and '88. He said it's been a pleasant surprise to play for a third championshipwithout a senior on the roster.
'We're still a young team, but we're not inexperienced right now at the endof the season,' he said.