Stanford Evens Series At One

June 22, 2003

Associated Press Writer

OMAHA, Neb. - In his 27 years as Stanford's head coach, Mark Marquess has groomed some of the game's top pitchers.

John Hudgins separated himself from the rest with his third win of the College World Series as the Cardinal evened the best-of-three championship series with an 8-3 victory over Rice on Sunday.

'This game was all about John Hudgins,' said Marquess, at the CWS for the 13th time. 'We've had some great pitchers at Stanford, but I don't think any of the pitchers from any of the teams I've brought here has accomplished what John has accomplished during these 10 days. I don't know whether it can be matched. Pressure games. Short rest. Just a phenomenal job.'

Stanford (51-17) and Rice (57-12) will play for the national championship Monday night.

'Stanford was the better team today,' said Owls coach Wayne Graham, who was ejected after 5 1-2 innings for arguing a called third strike on Paul Janish. 'We have to come back and play better.'

Hudgins (14-3) became the eighth pitcher to win three games in the tournament, and the first since Wichita State's Greg Brummett in 1989. He also became one of 10 pitchers to win four CWS games in their careers.

Hudgins, who beat South Carolina in Stanford's CWS opener and Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, held Rice to three runs on 10 hits in seven-plus innings. He walked three and struck out five.

In 24 CWS innings, the junior right-hander has allowed five earned runs, walked six and struck out 15.

Hudgins said his arm didn't feel live against Rice, but he made do.

'For me, not being a real power pitcher, even if I don't have my best stuff, I'm still going to be able to spot, and that's how I win anyway,' Hudgins said. 'I focused on location. I wasn't going to blow anyone away anyway.'

Sam Fuld rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the first inning against Rice.

Stanford's Sam Fuld homered leading off the bottom of the first inning to tie Texas' Keith Moreland for most career CWS hits, with 23.

Fuld, playing in his third CWS, said the record isn't important now.

'I'm sure later I'll appreciate it,' he said. 'All it means is I'm hitting and I'm helping the team win, and that's all that matters right now.'

The Cardinal added two more runs in the third against starter Wade Townsend (11-2) when Brian Hall scored from third on Townsend's wild pitch, and Tobin Swope scored on Carlos Quentin's RBI single.

Rice got within 3-1 in the fourth when Quentin lost track of Matt Ueckert's fly ball in right field. The ball dropped between Quentin and center fielder Fuld, allowing Craig Stansberry to score from second.

Stanford, helped by Rice first baseman Vincent Sinisi's two rare errors, built its lead to 8-1 in the seventh.

The Cardinal loaded the bases when Sinisi fielded Brian Hall's bunt and threw wildly to second baseman Jed Lowrie, who was covering first. Townsend walked Swope to force in a run, and Fuld reached when Sinisi mishandled his grounder, bringing in another run.

Sinisi, who hadn't made an error all season, made one in Saturday night's loss and two more Sunday.

Then Ash, who hit the first two homers of his career in his previous two games, hit a two-run double to right-center.

Josh Baker relieved Townsend, and Quentin hit a sacrifice fly for Stanford's final run. Townsend allowed eight runs - five earned - and eight hits in six innings.

Hudgins left in the eighth after walking Stansberry and giving up Enrique Cruz's double and Ueckert's two-run single that pulled Rice within 8-3.

Hudgins threw a total of 370 pitches in 10 days.

'He obviously didn't have much left,' Marquess said. 'The main thing was his health, and he was fine in that regard. He didn't have much on his pitches, but he was still throwing it over.'

Asked how his right arm was feeling after the game, Hudgins said, 'I can't go tomorrow. But I'm doing OK.'

'Champions come out in that situation and hopefully we can keep going. We've got one more to win.'
Pitcher John Hudgins

Reliever Kodiak Quick threw two wild pitches while walking Janish, then gave way to David O'Hagan, who got Justin Ruchti to hit into a double play. Ueckert, who was on third, came home on the play but was sent back after second base umpire Joe Burleson ruled that Janish interfered with Swope as the shortstop made the relay throw to first.

Home-plate umpire Tony Maners ejected Graham after the coach disputed a called third strike against Janish.

'I didn't think we suffered mentally,' Rice second baseman Enrique Cruz said, 'but the wheels did fall off and nothing really went right for us after that.'

The victory was Stanford's fourth elimination game victory after a second-round CWS loss to Cal State Fullerton.

'We're a great team,' Hudgins said. 'Champions come out in that situation and hopefully we can keep going. We've got one more to win.'

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