Stanford Advances To Third Straight CWS With 3-2 Win Over South Carolina
June 3, 2001
Stanford, Calif. - Stanford (48-17) advanced to its third straight College World Series with a dramatic 3-2 victory over South Carolina (49-19) in the final game of an NCAA Super Regional at Sunken Diamond on Sunday. Andy Topham's two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning broke a scoreless tie and Stanford scored an insurance the Cardinal would need on an RBI double by Jonny Ash in the top of the sixth inning. Mike Wodnicki (6-1) picked up the victory after coming on in relief of starter Jeff Bruksch in the fifth inning. J.D. Willcox pitched a scoreless final 1.2 innings for his sixth save of the season. The victory was Stanford's fourth in a row in an elimination game during the 2001 post-season and the club's seventh straight elimination-game win in an NCAA Regional or Super Regional contest over the last two years.
'Wow, it was quite a game,' said Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. 'This is a special team. In 25 years as a head coach, this is as special as it gets. This team shouldn't be here. This is a young and very inexperienced club, but they just didn't believe that should stop them. I'm very proud of this group.'
Stanford will play Tulane in the first round of the 2001 College World Series to be held June 8-16 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. The times and dates of first-round games will be announced on Monday, June 4. Seven of the eight teams for the 2001 College World Series have already qualified with six of eight nationally seeded clubs in the field. Fourth-seeded Stanford and fifth-seeded Tulane are joined in the field by top-seeded Cal State Fullerton, No. 2 Miami, No. 3 USC, No. 8 Nebraska and unseeded Tennessee. Sixth-seeded Georgia and Florida State will continue their Super Regional on Monday in Athens. Georgia won Saturday's first game but was trailing, 8-6, in the top of the seventh inning of game two on Sunday before the contest was postponed due to lightning. The teams will pick up the game where they left off on Monday at 1:00 p.m. If Florida State wins, a third Super Regional game will follow 45 minutes after the conclusion of the halted game.
South Carolina sent the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning but Stanford shortstop Scott Dragicevich snared a line drive hit by the Gamecocks' Tim Whittaker to secure the Cardinal victory. Willcox had retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth before hitting Garris Gonce to give South Carolina a base runner.
'This season has been a real character check for us,' said Dragicevich. 'We seem to want to play these really close games. It's been a real test for us, but we've proved that we can do it. It's given us a lot of confidence, maybe it's not exactly the way we wanted to win (today), but we were able to hold out.'
South Carolina had cut Stanford's lead to 3-2 with a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Tripp Kelly's one-out RBI-double scored Whittaker, who had led off the inning with his fourth hit of the day and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bryon Jeffcoat. Willcox relieved Wodnicki and allowed an infield single to pinch-hitter Matt Riddle before retiring pinch-hitter Trey Dyson and Marcus McBeth to end the Gamecocks' rally.
The Cardinal and the Gamecocks were locked in a scoreless tie until Gamecocks' starter Blake Taylor hit Ash to lead off the top of the fifth inning. Topham then followed with his seventh homer of the season, a two-run shot to right field on a 1-2 pitch to give the Cardinal a 2-0 lead.
South Carolina struck back with a solo homer by McBeth, his 17th of the season, to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning.
Stanford added a crucial insurance run in the top of the sixth frame. Ryan Garko opened the Stanford sixth by reaching on a base on balls and moved to third base on a single by Carlos Quentin. After South Carolina reliever Kip Bouknight struck out Jason Cooper, Ash followed with his one-out RBI double to score Garko.
Wodnicki struck out five, while scattering five hits and one run as he became Stanford's all-time leader in won-loss percentage with a 13-1 career record.
The one-run victory marked Stanford's sixth one-run game in eight 2001 post-season contests. The Cardinal has posted a 4-2 record in those games.
Taylor (5-4) suffered the loss for the Gamecocks, giving up four hits and two runs in 4.0 innings.
Whittaker (4-5) led the South Carolina offense, while Michael Floyd (2-5) added a pair of hits.Stanford has now won 13 of its last 16 games.