Unphased Stanford One Win Away From Title Game

June 11, 2001

AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nothing seems to rattle Stanford at the College WorldSeries.

Finals, nine-hour bus rides, eight-run deficits - no problem. The Cardinalhave conquered it all and are one win away from the title game for the secondstraight year.

'We know what it's like to be down and have to battle. Now we're finally ina spot we can take advantage of it,' catcher Ryan Garko said Monday.

It's been an unlikely run for Stanford, which has just one starter back fromlast year's national runner-up. The Cardinal (50-16) lost the second game ofthe NCAA regionals in Palo Alto, Calif., and needed to come back with threestraight wins to advance.

It took three games to get past South Carolina in the super regionals andclinch a 13th College World Series berth.

And the Cardinal are doing it with underclassmen - there isn't a senior onthe roster.

'They haven't played like they're young and inexperienced all year,' coachMark Marquess said. 'That's been really kind of a pleasant surprise - probablyin my career of coaching the biggest surprise.'

Stanford won't play again until Wednesday against either Tulane or Cal StateFullerton, which play an elimination game Tuesday. The Cardinal trailed Tulane8-0 at one point in the series opener, but rallied for a 13-11 win. Stanfordtook top-seeded Fullerton to extra innings in a pitching gem Sunday night andwon 5-2 in 10 innings.

Marquess knows that the two wins don't guarantee anything on Wednesday.

'If they're still playing, they're playing well,' Marquess said.

The extra day off is giving the Cardinal players a chance to finish schoolwork. The semester ends Friday and several players have spent the nights intheir hotel room, writing papers or completing take-home finals.

They lost a day last week when they had to take a bus from Chicago to Omahawhen their connecting flight was canceled

The resilient Cardinal didn't let it phase them and will be fresh for thenext game. Only Mike Gosling, who held Fullerton to two hits over 7 2-3 inningsMonday night, won't be available. Marquess said Jeremy Guthrie (12-4), wholasted only 1 1-3 innings against Tulane, will start Wednesday.

'We have all our arms going basically,' said right-hander Jeff Bruksch,who spent the season as the No. 2 starter but come out of the bullpen in bothCWS games and earned two saves. 'We have a deep staff as it is. We have a lotof confidence and I think we'll be able to make a pretty good run at it.'

Stanford hasn't won the CWS since consecutive titles in 1987 and '88.

The Cardinal went unbeaten through the first three games in Omaha a year agoand were in command of the title game, but Louisiana State came back with fourruns in the final two innings to win 6-5.

'It was tough last year, but it was a good learning experience for all ofus that are back this year,' Garko said. 'I think if we're fortunate enoughto make it to the championship game memories will come back a little bit more.We need to get there first, though.'

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