Wild Wins, Cardiac Card Continue

Twice on Sunday Stanford had to win or sit for the summer. Twice on Sunday Stanford was trailing against a more rested Texas team. Twice, the Cardiac Card came through in the clutch to snag one-run victories for the ages, taking the regional title in the process. These heart-stopping recaps will help you relive these classic Card comebacks.

In a couple of nail-biting games, the Stanford Cardinal twice defeated the Texas Longhorns on Sunday to win the Palo Alto Regional and advance to the Super-Regionals.  Heading into the afternoon, the Cardinal knew that they needed two victories over the Longhorns to move on in the NCAA Tournament or else their season would be over.  It certainly wasn't easy but the Cardinal prevailed with a 10-9, ten inning win in the first game and a 4-3 victory in the nightcap.

In the first contest, Jeff Bruksch got the start on the hill and was opposed by Texas lefthander Justin Simmons.  Simmons would never find a rhythm on the mound as the Cardinal scored runs in each of the first three innings to knock him out of the game.  In the bottom of the first with one out, Sam Fuld was hit by a pitch, stole second, and then came home on an RBI single off the bat of Carlos Quentin.  Stanford scored again in the second inning when Andy Topham belted a home run to deep left and then added two more tallies in the third inning, one coming on a homer by Chris O'Riordan and the other on a bases loaded walk with Topham at the plate.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bruksch was outstanding on the mound.  Through four innings, the junior righthander had given up just one hit and struck out four.  But he would run into trouble in the fifth inning.  The inning started off very harmless as the Longhorns had only a runner at second base and two outs with the #9 hitter, Tim Moss, stepping to the plate.  Moss though singled to left to bring home the first Texas run of the afternoon which opened the floodgates.  Back-to-back walks and then back-to-back two-run singles and all of a sudden the Longhorns had taken a 5-4 lead.

Stanford wouldn't quit though as they responded with a five spot in the their half of the sixth inning.  Jonny Ash led off the inning by getting hit by the pitch and then Andy Topham hit his second homer of the afternoon, a fly ball that just stayed fair down the left field line to put the Cardinal back on top at 6-5.  Stanford wasn't done in the inning as Scott Dragicevich and Arik VanZandt both singled and O'Riordan was hit by the pitch to load the bases.  Sam Fuld would bring home another run with a groundout to make the score 7-5 and with two outs Carlos Quentin delivered his second clutch hit of the afternoon when he singled to left to cap the inning off and give Stanford a 9-5 advantage.

The Longhorns would battle back as they scored a single run in the seventh inning on a Ryan Hubele sacrifice fly to cut Stanford's lead to 9-6 and setting the stage for a dramatic ninth inning.  Mike Wodnicki, who came on in relief in the seventh inning, appeared to have wrapped up the game.  With a runner on first and two outs and down to their last strike, Ryan Hubele lined a single to left center to keep Texas alive.  Ben King then stepped up to the plate and hit a deep fly over the fence down the right field line that just barely stayed fair to tie the game at 9-9.  Things did not look good for the Cardinal as after J.D. Willcox came in to finish the ninth, Stanford went down without scoring in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the tenth, Texas' Jeff Ontiveros drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.  Willcox would bear down though and strike out Eddie Romprey and Moss to retire the side and give the Cardinal some momentum heading into the bottom of the tenth.  In the bottom of the inning, after Arik VanZandt grounded out, Chris O'Riordan lined a single to left to give Stanford a base runner.  It looked like that runner would be stranded after Sam Fuld fouled out, but Ken Tirpack who came in for Ryan Garko in the ninth inning for defensive purposes, drew a walk.  Texas responded by bringing in Gerrit Simpson to pitch.  If you recall, Simpson had thrown a complete-game for the Longhorns just two days earlier in their win over Long Beach State.  With Carlos Quentin at the plate, Simpson promptly issued a wild pitch that moved up both base runners to second and third base.  Instead of walking Quentin and loading the bases for Brian Hall, Texas coach Augie Garrido elected to pitch to Quentin and he delivered a line drive single to right field scoring O'Riordan and giving Stanford the dramatic 10-9 victory.  But that was only the beginning.

With very little pitching left, Head Coach Mark Marquess gave the ball to freshman righthander John Hudgins.  Hudgins entered the game with a 1-5 record and an ERA just below five, but had thrown the ball well recently.  Things did not start off well for the Cardinal as the Longhorns struck first with a single run in the bottom of the first inning.  The "Cardinal killer" Ben King grounded a single up the middle scoring Kalani Napolean who had singled to lead off the inning.  Hudgins would settle down after that though as he would not allow the Longhorns to score in the second, third, fourth, or fifth innings.

Unfortunately for Stanford, they could not muster any offense off of Texas starter Ray Clark.  Clark, who mixed speeds brilliantly, retired the first 14 Cardinal batters that stepped to the plate.  But with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Jonny Ash grounded a ball in between shortstop and third base.  Shortstop Eddie Romprey made a great effort to get to the ball, but was unable to come up with it cleanly and Ash was safe at first.  He was credited with a base hit.  The next batter, Andy Topham, then blooped a ball to shallow center field that dropped in front of the sprinting Kalani Napolean.  Napolean though slipped and fell and the ball got behind him.  This was enough for Ash to score all the way from first and tie the game at 1-1.

That's what the score would remain until the bottom of the sixth.  Matt Rosenberg led off with a single to center and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.  Hudgins would be taken out of the game in favor of Ryan McCally who walked Jeff Ontiveros to put runners on first and second.  Marquess then made another pitching change, this time bringing in the rubber armed Mike Wodnicki.  Wodnicki though would give up a single to Ryan France that scored Rosenberg from first to put Texas back in front at 2-1.  Wodnicki and the Cardinal would get out of the inning when he induced Eddie Romprey to ground into a double play.  After Stanford went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning, Texas added a single run in the bottom of the inning when Ryan Hubele homered to straight away center field to increase Texas' lead to 3-1.

Then came the comeback.  With Clark still on the hill, Andy Topham led off with a bloop single to right center and then Scott Dragicevich reached on a bunt single to bring the go-ahead run to the plate.  The next batter, Arik VanZandt, laid down a bunt that was fielded by the first baseman Ontiveros who threw on to Tim Moss, the second baseman, who was covering first.  Moss though dropped the ball and everybody was safe.  Chris O'Riordan then stepped to the plate and hit a line drive that was caught by Napolean in center, but was enough to score Topham from third to make the score 3-2.  Up stepped Sam Fuld and he promptly hit a ground ball to deep short where Romprey fielded it and threw to second to try to force out VanZandt.  The throw though would be a spilt-second late, and the Cardinal had the bases loaded once again.  That set the stage for Ryan Garko and the sophomore catcher came through with a line drive just over the head of the second baseman Moss to score Dragicevich and VanZandt and put Stanford ahead 4-3.  Texas changed pitchers at this point and the new hurler, Brantley Jordan retired Jason Cooper and Carlos Quentin without any more runs coming across.

So with the score 4-3 Stanford heading to the bottom of the eighth inning, Marquess turned to junior righthander J.D. Willcox.  Willcox would get Matt Rosenberg to ground to short but Dragicevich was unable to handle the hard grounder and Texas had the lead off runner on base.  After Sam Anderson sacrificed Rosenberg to second, Willcox hit Jeff Ontiveros with the pitch and then walked Ryan France to load the bases.  That brought Eddie Romprey to the plate and in the biggest moment of the game, Romprey hit a line drive right back at Willcox who stabbed it and then doubled off France at first base to end the inning.

After the Cardinal went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, Texas came up in the bottom of the inning with their season on the line.  Willcox easily retired the first two hitters, but then walked Ryan Hubele which brought up the "Cardinal killer" Ben King.  King lined an inside fastball to right field, but fortunately it was right at Carlos Quentin and he made the catch to end the game and give Stanford the regional victory.

Stanford will host South Carolina in the Super-Regionals this weekend in a best of three-game series.  Game times are 7:00pm on Friday and 1:00pm on Saturday and Sunday (if necessary).

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