Stanford Second Baseman Walks On to Three Years As Starter

June 19, 2002

Omaha, Neb. (AP) - When Jason and Chris O'Riordan approached Mark Marquess about joining Stanford's baseball team as walk-ons, the Cardinal coach told the twin brothers to reconsider.

That was enough to persuade Jason, but Chris stubbornly decided to give it ashot. He not only made the team, but ended up having a three-year run asStanford's starting second baseman.

'It's kind of funny,' said O'Riordan, a senior playing in his thirdCollege World Series. 'I'm not the most talented guy, the biggest guy orstrongest guy. I think it's just a testament to how hard I work.'

O'Riordan, who is 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, is fourth among Cardinal starters with a .328 batting average. He was 1-for-4 Tuesday with a double as Stanfordeliminated Notre Dame 5-3 and stayed alive in the CWS.

The Cardinal (47-17) play Texas (55-15) on Thursday night in thedouble-elimination tournament and would need two wins over the Longhorns tomake it to a third straight championship game.

The thought of playing in one CWS championship seemed unlikely for O'Riordana few years ago. He didn't even make the trip to Omaha when Stanford made thefirst of four straight CWS appearances in 1999.

He played in just two games in his freshman season as a defensivereplacement, making an assist on his only attempt, but he impressed Marquessduring practice.

'Chris felt confident in his ability,' Marquess said. 'He went the wholeyear without one at-bat, he didn't travel one time. It's a real credit tohim.'

O'Riordan established himself early in his sophomore season. His first hitat Stanford was a homer in the 10th inning of an 8-6 win at Florida State, andhe went on to start 46 of the final 47 games.

Stanford advanced to the CWS final that season, only to lose to LouisianaState 6-5. He led the Cardinal with a .366 average in 2000 and last year batted.359 with a team-high 101 hits when Stanford made the CWS title game again andlost to Miami 12-1.

Marquess said O'Riordan has always been a talented hitter, but worked hardto make himself a top defensive player. The Texas Rangers picked him in theeighth round of the draft earlier this month.

'It's a guy that walked into my office and I told him about the scholarshipguys and the drafted guys and he said, 'All I want is a chance,'' Marquesssaid. 'When somebody sees somebody make it and have some success, that justsends the right message to his teammates.'

Marquess' first words to the O'Riordan brothers in the fall of 1998 weresomething along the lines of, 'Are you sure?'

Stanford, the coach told them, was difficult enough academically and hewasn't sure they could handle the extra demands of playing baseball.

Jason, a pitcher, opted to concentrate on academics, while Chris took onMarquess' challenge.

'He didn't want to paint a picture that he didn't think would happen,'Chris O'Riordan said of Marquess. 'I felt that I could do it, so I still cameout and worked as hard as I could and earned a spot.'

As it turns out, both brothers made the right choice. Jason O'Riordangraduated Sunday Phi Beta Kappa, while Chris was practicing in Omaha. It wasChris' graduation, too, but Cardinal players annually give up the ceremony forthe chance to play for the national title.

Jason, their parents, William and Cindy, and several other family membershave flown in to Omaha the past few days to see Chris' final college games.

'It's a great story that I will always tell,' Marquess said. 'He beat outa lot of guys that were heavily recruited and on scholarship. He got in on hisown. I didn't know anything about him.'

AP Sports Writer

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