Stanford's 11-Run Ninth Inning Fuels 16-5 Rout Of Florida State In College World Series Opener

June 14, 2008

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    OMAHA, Neb. - One way to win a battle is to have a much more potent counter-punch than the opponent, and the Stanford baseball team followed that axiom to a 'T' Saturday, answering what could have been a spirit-deflating, game-tying home run by Florida State with an 11-run ninth inning that proved the difference in Stanford's 16-5 victory over the Seminoles in the 2008 College World Series opener at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. The win gives the Cardinal (40-22-2) its 19th 40-win season of Mark Marquess' 32-year tenure, and evened the all-time series with Florida State (54-13) at 9-9.

    Stanford continues on in the winner's bracket, taking on the winner of this evening's Miami (Fla.)-Georgia contest Monday at 4 p.m. PT at Omaha's Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. Monday's game will be televised on ESPN2.

    The win also continues Stanford's streak of having won at least one contest in every single one of the program's 16 trips to the College World Series, and improves the team's overall CWS record to 35-23 (.604).

    Toby Gerhart led all Cardinal hitters with three hits on Saturday, also hitting his seventh home run of the season and scoring three runs. Zach Jones, Cord Phelps, Sean Ratliff, and Jake Schlander each had a pair of hits, with Phelps doubling and driving in a pair of runs, and Ratliff bringing three runs home on the day.

    Brent Milleville hit his 11th home run of the season, a three-run job in the big ninth inning, and drove in four runs on the day.

    Drew Storen picked up his fifth victory of the year after tossing two innings of relief. The freshman played a pivotal role in getting the Cardinal out of a dangerous bases-loaded, none-out jam in the seventh inning that could have altered the outcome of the contest.

    Cardinal starter Jeremy Bleich threw five strong innings, allowing only one run on six hits and striking out a career-high seven batters.

    The Seminoles, trailing 5-2 in the eighth, tied the game with a two-out rally against Storen. After getting a strikeout and a ground out to start the frame, Storen got into trouble as Tommy Oravetz and Tyler Holt got consecutive singles with Jason Stidham coming to bat. Battling to a 2-2 count, Stidham took advantage of a Storen offering and sent it deep to right, just getting over the wall and into the second row of seats to knot things up at 5-5.

    Storen got out of the inning by striking out Buster Posey, and the Stanford effort to pick up its young closer got started right away as Phelps led off the top of the ninth with a base hit to right. Gerhart then beat out a high chopper to third for an infield hit, and a bit of controversy reared its head as Jason Castro's bouncer down the first-base line appeared to hit the line past first base while hopping away from FSU first-baseman Dennis Guinn. Umpire Mike Conlin called the ball foul, yet Castro's life as a batter would not be ended as his hard-it grounder to short was mishandled by Seminole shortstop Tony Delmonico, his second of three errors in the contest, and everyone was safe.

    With the sacks loaded, Milleville's sacrifice fly to center plated Phelps with the go-ahead run and moved Gerhart and Castro up a bag, and, following an intentional walk to Randy Molina, Ratliff knocked in a pair with a single to center. Joey August walked to load the bases, Gerhart scored as Delmonico made his third error of the game on Jones' RBI ground ball, which also scored pinch-runner J.J. Jelmini, and Schlander's single through the left side brought in August with the inning's sixth run. Phelps doubled in a pair with a shot down the right-field line, Gerhart walked, and two batters later, Milleville crushed his three-run homer to left that closed out the scoring.

    FSU reliever John Gast, who started the inning and gave up the first run of the ninth, was charged with his first loss of the year. Posey, who moved from catcher to pitcher, gave up six runs in his third of an inning of work, but only one was unearned by virtue of the Seminole fielding errors.

    Reliever Ben Francis relieved Posey and was touched for four runs, before Bo O'Dell cane on to get the inning's final out.

    With none out and the bases loaded, Storen showed nerves of steel in getting ahead of Jack Rye before getting him to pop up to third for the inning's first out. Dennis Guinn went after Storen's first offering next, and popped up to second to make it two outs. Finally, facing Tony Delmonico with two down, Storen quickly got up 0-2 in the count, and after a ball, froze Delmonico with a fastball to end the threat and send the Stanford dugout into a frenzy.

    The first three innings of the game flew by, as each pitcher managed to contain the opposing batting order. Although Bleich gave up four hits and had one batter reach base on an error over those first three innings, he got good help in ending the first inning threat, in which he struck out Jack Rye before Castro gunned Stidham down trying to swipe third for the strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play. Florida State got a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but each time, Bleich buckled down and got out of the inning with a goose egg on the scoreboard.

    Stanford broke the stalemate in the top of the fourth inning, thanks in part to the leadoff efforts of Phelps. The second baseman fought his way out of a 1-2 hole to draw a leadoff walk, and Gerhart followed by drilling Fairel's first offering into center field for the Cardinal's first hit of the game.

    Castro grounded into a fielder's choice that forced out Gerhart, and left runners on the corners. Fairel got another out as he got Milleville to chase a ball in the dirt for a strikeout, and with two away, it looked like Stanford could come up empty on its best scoring chance of the game to that point.

    But Molina didn't let that happen. The senior designated hitter lined a 1-0 pitch past first base that rolled down the right-field line and into the corner, plating Phelps with the game's first run and the 1-0 Cardinal lead.

    Bleich's outing just one pitch into the sixth inning, as Guinn's homer to right to lead off the frame cut the Stanford lead to 3-1, and ushered Erik Davis into the game. Davis gave up a base hit to Delmonico, then got the next two outs quickly and it looked as if Stanford would escape another jam before No. 9 batter Oravetz singled in Delmonico.

    Fairel, who received his own no-decision Saturday, would last just a few outs into the sixth himself, giving up Gerhart's leadoff home run to make it a 4-2 game, then allowing a two-out, RBI single to Ratliff with scored Castro, who had doubled three batters before. Fairel went five and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out three.

    The seventh would prove to be one of the more pivotal innings of the game, as Stanford answered Florida State's sixth-inning runs with a pair of its own to reinstitute its lead.

    Schlander got Stanford moving in the top half of the frame, doubling to left-center to lead things off. Cord Phelps reached base on an FSU fielding error, moving Schlander to third. Gerhart, who squared to bunt, was beaned by FSU's Ryan Strauss, loading the bases for Castro, who walked to bring Schlander home and double the Stanford advantage at 4-2. Jimmy Marshall relieved Strauss at this point, and, despite getting Brent Milleville to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, Phelps was able to score from third to reclaim the Cardinal's three-run lead at 5-2.

    In the bottom half, it was Storen's arm that preserved Stanford's lead. Erik Davis walked Holt and Stidham to start the inning, and was relieved by Storen, who drew the tough task of facing Posey, the NCAA batting leader.

    Storen walked Posey after just missing low on a 3-2 fastball, but bounced back to close out the threat in stirring fashion. getting Jack Rye and Guinn to pop up in consecutive at bats before freezing Delmonico with a third-strike fastball for the inning's final out.

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