Its not often that Mark Marquess deviates from his normal routines in the postseason. The pitchers generally stay in the rotation in the same order which they have pitched all year. But Marquess rolled the dice tonight, electing to start senior Ryan McCally in Game 1 against Illinois-Chicago, and his decision paid off in a big way, as the senior hurled the best game of his Stanford career, a complete game eight-hitter. Now, the Cardinal have a postseason victory and they still have John Hudgins and Mark Romanczuk ready for Games 2 and 3, not to mention their entire bullpen. Stanford plays UC Riverside tomorrow (who beat Richmond 10-8 today) at 3 PM.
While it was a great decision to start McCally in hindsight, it did not look like a good decision early on. McCally gave up a one out single to JP Carey in the first, and got ahead of Horizon League Player of the Year Chuck Peters 1-2. But he gave up a single to Peters, and after a lineout, walked Jordan DeVoir to load the bases with two outs. But McCally got Brad Ryan to popout to end the inning, and a threat was avoided in the first.
Stanford struck quickly and ferociously in the bottom of the inning. Fuld walked against starter Ryan Gehring, who had walked just 14 batters in 96 innings coming into the game. Brian Hall flied to right, and Gehring got ahead of Carlos Quentin 1-2. But Quentin thrashed a single to right, putting runners at the corners for Ryan Garko. It would be an RBI situation for Garko, but not as he thought, as prior to the first pitch, Gehring balked home a run, moving Quentin to second and giving Stanford a 1-0 lead. Garko ripped a ball up the middle on 1-2, between the legs of Gehring and into center field, scoring Quentin, giving the Cardinal a 2-0 lead and Garko his 79th RBI. Donny Lucy got the start in the #5 spot and at DH and quickly paid dividends, ripping a double to the wall, scoring Garko from first and Stanford led 3-0. Finally, two batters later, Jed Lowrie took a 1-1 pitch into left field for his first postseason hit and RBI, and Stanford led 4-0 after 1.
However, UIC struck back. They hit McCally hard in the first, and led off the second inning with Kevin Nelson smoking a ball to the wall in right, where Quentin made the catch up against the wall. With one out, Bryan Russo singled up the middle and stood at first with Nelson Gord at the plate. Gord hit a ball hard but right at Swope. But the shortstop dropped a line drive (and a possible double play) and the Flames ended up with runners at the corners. Mike Hughes made McCally pay, as he ripped a 2-RBI double to the gap, scoring two and cutting the lead in half. With a runner at thrid and only one out, McCally settled down and retired the final two batters on a strikeout and a groundout. It was Mac's first strikeout, and it would be one of ten during the game.
Stanford scored agian in the second on a homer by Brian Hall off the top of the wall in left, giving the Cardinal a 5-2 lead. With that cushion, McCally settled in. He gave up a leadoff single in the third but then proceeded to strike out the next three hitters. In the bottom of the inning, Stanford added another run on an error by the first baseman, a Lowrie hit and run single, and a Jonny Ash sac fly to make it 6-2. Gehring was driven from the game in the third, and Charlie Hahn got Hall to fly out, leaving runners on base. Gehring's final line: 2.2 innings, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB.
Meanwhile, McCally settled in. While Stanford did not score in the fourth and fifth, it didn't matter, because McCally held the Flames at bay, giving up a hit in each inning but striking out three in the process.
In the sixth, Stanford got their seventh run on a mammoth Quentin homer to left-center, his ninth of the year. It was one of the longest homers he has ever hit, as the crowd cheered their applause for Quentin, who ended up 3-4 with a HR and 2 RBI. McCally worked a 1-2-3 sixth (his first 1-2-3 of the day) and gave up only a two out walk in the seventh. Stanford held the 7-2 lead.
Stanford scored their final two runs in the eighth, on a sac fly by Garko and a sac fly by Putnam. McCally would go on to finish the game, his second CG of the year (and his career), and Stanford would win going away tonight by a final of 9-2.
Illinois-Chicago 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 2 8 2
Stanford 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 x - 9 13 1
WP: Ryan McCally (6-2)
LP: Ryan Gehring (8-5)
HR: Hall (5th, 2nd inning), Quentin (9th, 6th inning)
Illinois-Chicago (39-17), Stanford (42-15)
-Stanford is now 5-0 in the first game of the regionals since the 64-team field and current format came into play in 1999.
-McCally's win was his first as a starter since March 8th. It was his second CG of his career as the senior righthander struck out 10 batters, allowing just 1 earned run while walking just three.
-Sam Fuld had a hit, extending his hit streak to 15, and Hall's HR extended his hit streak to 9.
-Every Stanford starter had a hit besides Jonny Ash. Quentin, Garko, and Lowrie had multiple hit games.
-Garko had 2 RBI today, and now is 3rd all time on the single season RBI list for Stanford. Next up, Edmund Muth, who had 81 RBI in 2000. Garko's batting average now is .409.
-Tomorrow Stanford will start John Hudgins (9-3, 3.14 ERA) against UC Riverside starter AJ Shappi (11-2, 3.14 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 PM. If the Cardinal win, they play Sunday at 1 PM for the Regional Championship. If Stanford loses tomorrow at 3, they will play tomorrow at 7 in the loser's bracket with the season on the line.
Chad Goldberg is the voice of Stanford Baseball on KZSU, 90.1 FM.