Stanford Punches 16th Ticket To Omaha With 8-5 Win Over Cal State Fullerton
June 7, 2008
FULLERTON, Calif. - For the 16th time in program history and the first time since 2003, the Stanford baseball team is headed to Omaha for the College World Series, becoming the first team to punch its 2008 ticket with an 8-5 Super Regional-clinching victory over Cal State Fullerton Saturday at Goodwin Field. The victory sews up Stanford's sixth Super Regional title, and the first it has won on the road in program history.
The Cardinal will now head to Omaha for the 2008 College World Series, its first trip in five seasons, beginning play next Saturday, June 14, against the winner of the Wichita State-Florida State Super Regional.
Jason Castro led the way at the plate for the Cardinal on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, and four RBI, including the pivotal bases-clearing double in the sixth inning that broke a 5-5 tie and accounted for the game's final score.
Two of Stanford's freshmen played key roles in the victory. Colin Walsh started at second base as usual starter Cord Phelps was a late scratch, and Walsh rose to the occasion by going 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot, reaching base three times on the day, driving in a run, and scoring three runs. Rookie closer Drew Storen picked up his second save in as many days, going the final inning and a third, striking out one while allowing no runs, no hits, and walking just one batter.
Austin Yount picked up his sixth win of the year with a yeoman's relief effort of five and a third innings, allowing just two runs (one unearned) and striking out three Fullerton batters.
But it was Castro's sinking line drive to the opposite field that was the knockout blow to the Titans Saturday night. With two outs and the bases loaded, Castro battled Titans reliever Jason Dovel to a full count, then fouled back a pair of pitches to stay alive. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Dovel tried to paint the black but Castro went with the pitch and sent it tailing away from Brown in left field and to the wall, scoring all three Cardinal baserunners for the 8-5 lead.
Stanford starter Erik Davis got out of a jam right away Saturday, loading the bases with a pair of walks and a hit batsmen, the last walk coming with two outs. But Davis escaped the situation as Gary Brown lined out to Zach Jones at third.
Grabbing back some momentum, the Cardinal got on the board in its first two at-bats. Walsh drew a walk after falling behind 1-2 in the count against Fullerton starter Cory Arbiso, and promptly stole second to put himself in scoring position. August complied with a base hit up the middle to plate Walsh for the early 1-0 lead.
Fullerton wasted no time getting that run back, as Joel Weeks was hit by a pitch to start the second inning, stole second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Although Davis got the next two batters on strikes, Josh Fellhauer singled to left to bring in the equalizer.
Stanford would slug right back in the bottom half of the inning with the first of its two three-run innings in the contest. With one out, Jones was hit by a pitch, and stole second. After Schlander lined out to left for the inning's second out, Walsh smacked an RBI single to right to reclaim the lead for the Cardinal, then came in to score himself on August's double down the right-field line. August scored the final run of the inning as Castro knocked in his first run of the game with a base hit to left to make it 4-1 Stanford.
At this point, Fullerton began to chip away at the Stanford lead, getting two of those runs back in the third, as another hit batsman, Davis' third, got a runner on for the Titans to lead off the frame. Two batters later, Brian Wilson singled in Erik Komatsu to halve the Cardinal's lead. Brown would single to put runners on first and second with one out, and Weeks would hit a ground ball to first, where Brent Milleville's throw to attempt a double play went into left field, allowing Wilson to score and make it a one-run game at 4-3.
Yount would relieve Davis from that point, and got the next two batters to fly out and ground out, respectively, to end the inning and strand runners on the corners.
Stanford got the lead back up to two at 5-3 in the fifth, as Castro singled with one out, stole second as Milleville went down on strikes, then came in to score on Molina's single to right-center.
Yet in keeping with the slugfest theme of the contest, Fullerton came right back to tie things up at 5-5 in the top of the sixth. Joe Scott singled with one out, then Fellhauer reached on a bunt single that saw Yount's errant throw to first get by the bag and up the right field line, allowing Scott to score from first and make it a 5-4 game.
Christian Colon singled to keep the inning going, then Komatsu struck with a double to right that knotted things up at 5-5. But the Cardinal would catch a big break and get out of the jam, as after loading the bases by intentionally walking Clark, Wilson drilled a line drive right at a perfectly-positioned Milleville, who snagged the laser and stepped on first base to double up Clark and take some of the wind out of the Titan sails.
The rest of the wind that happened to be left in those sails was dissipated in the bottom half of the frame thanks to Castro's three-run double that gave the Cardinal back its original three-run cushion.
Yount set the Titans down in the seventh despite a one-out double by Weeks, and got the first two outs of the eighth before Komatsu singled to right to end Yount's night. Storen was called to duty for the second straight night, entrusted with the three-run lead, and he did not disappoint.
He quickly struck out Clark to end the eighth, and started the ninth by getting Wilson to ground back to him for the first out. Brown walked, but Storen erased him, and ended the contest, by inducing Weeks to ground into a 6-4-3 double play that was started by a nice backhand grab by Schlander at short. Walsh's relay to Milleville was in time to complete the sequence and set off the Cardinal celebration and launch Stanford into the 2008 College World Series.