Card Open Omaha With 8-0 Clinic

The College World Series got underway today for the Stanford Cardinal with a win, as Stanford played one of its best games of the season, knocking off the South Carolina Gamecocks 8-0. John Hudgins threw a two-hit shutout over eight innings, as the Cardinal advanced to the winner's bracket in Omaha. Read on for details.

Stanford 8, South Carolina 0

Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium has been familiar territory for the Stanford Cardinal over the last five years.  Since 1999, the Cardinal have opened play in Omaha with a win, a streak that they continued today in grand fashion, shutting out the South Carolina Gamecocks behind John Hudgins' two-hit shutout.  While the Cardinal had just two extra-base hits, they used a balanced offensive attack, striking early and often to win Game 1 of the College World Series.

Hudgins needed just six pitches to dispose of the Gamecocks on three groundballs in the first, and the Cardinal wasted little time in the bottom of the inning.  Sam Fuld led off with a single against David Marchbanks, the SEC Pitcher of the Year.  After a Brian Hall walk, Fuld and Hall completed a double steal with Carlos Quentin at the plate to put runners at second and third.  While Quentin popped up, Ryan Garko picked him up by singling through the right side, driving home both runners and giving the Cardinal a 2-0 lead.  Stanford would load the bases later in the first, but Jonny Ash's flyout to left would strand three on base.  Still, the Cardinal, much like in 2002, took the lead in the first inning of Game 1.

In the second, Hudgins retired Landon Powell on a popout, and faced 2B Kevin Melillo with one out.  Melillo smoked a ball to right center field for what looked like a sure double.  But Carlos Quentin dove at the warning track to rob Melillo of extra-bases, making one of the best plays of the 2003 season. Hudgins finished out the second inning by retiring 1B Bryan Triplett on a groundout, throwing just ten more pitches in the inning.

In the bottom of the second, the Cardinal picked up where they left off in the first. Singles by Tobin Swope and Fuld put runners on with nobody out.  Hall's sacrifice put two runners in scoring position for Quentin again.  Facing the Stanford slugger, Marchbanks bounced a ball in front of Landon Powell, and Swope raced home on the wild pitch, scoring the third run for the Cardinal. With a runner at third, Quentin popped up a 2-2 pitch in foul territory on the left side.  But 3B Brian Buscher never saw it, as the ball harmlessly dropped foul, giving Quentin second life.  He took advantage, drawing a walk and bringing up Garko again.  With just one out, Garko lifted a sac fly to right, driving home his 91st RBI of the season, and giving Stanford a 4-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Hudgins kept cruising.  He retired the side in order again in the third, striking out two in the process.  He gave up his first hit in the fourth inning, a double to SS Justin Harris.  But Hudgins did not allow another batter to reach in the inning, as South Carolina came up empty again.

In the fourth, Stanford would put the game away.  With one out, Marchbanks hit Quentin and gave up another opposite field single to Garko, leaving the game in favor of RHP Chris Hernandez.  Hernandez did not fare much better, walking pinch hitter Chris Carter to load the bases, and then walking Danny Putnam, driving home a run.  Jed Lowrie followed with an RBI single to right, as Stanford took a 6-0 lead, but Carter was thrown out at the plate trying to score.  Jonny Ash delivered another hit, knocking home Putnam, and Stanford led 7-0.

Stanford would score once more in the sixth.  A leadoff double by Putnam, followed by a wild pitch and a Jonny Ash RBI single gave the Cardinal their 8th and final run.

However, the story today was John Hudgins.  The junior RHP allowed just one more hit in the fifth inning, and one walk (his only three-ball count) in the seventh inning, but South Carolina never really mounted a threat.  Hudgins departed after eight innings, throwing just 84 pitches, giving up 0 runs, 2 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3 in the performance of his career.  Freshman Kodiak Quick made his first postseason appearance, walking the first batter on four pitches, but getting a double play and a popout to close the Stanford 8-0 victory.

               1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9   R  H  E
South Carolina 0 0 0  0 0 0  0 0 0   0  2  1
Stanford       2 2 0  3 0 1  0 0 x   8 12  0

WP: John Hudgins (12-3)
LP: David Marchbanks (15-3)

South Carolina (44-21), Stanford (47-15)

- Stanford's victory combined with Cal St. Fullerton's win over LSU tonight will pit the two West Coast powers on Sunday in the winner's bracket game.  
- The Cardinal won the first game at the CWS for the 5th consecutive year.  Stanford has made 15 College World Series trips, and has won at least one game in each appearance.
- John Hudgins' final line:  8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 84 pitches. The line speaks for itself:  a masterpiece.  His ERA is now at 3.01. Hudgins' (and Quick's) shutout is the first for a Stanford pitcher ever at the CWS.
- David Marchbanks gave up a season-high 6 ER.  The SEC's Pitcher of the Year gave up 3 or less earned runs in every outing this year previous to today's.
- Ryan Garko drove home runs 89, 90, and 91 today.  He is now just one RBI short of tying the Stanford single season RBI record of 92, set by Rick Lundblade in 1985.
- Sam Fuld and Jonny Ash led the way with three hits apiece.  Ash is now 8-17 career at the CWS, and Fuld is 17-39 in Omaha.
- Danny Putnam hit the ball well:  2-4 with a 2B.
- Carlos Quentin made a great play in RF but went 0-3, and is now 5-32 lifetime in Omaha.
- Perhaps the only negative today:  Stanford stranded 13 on base.  
- Sunday will pit Mark Romanczuk against LHP Ryan Schreppel for Cal St. Fullerton.  Start time is 4 PM Pacific, 6 PM in Omaha.
- Final Note:  Congrats to Ryan Garko, Tobin Swope, Tim Cunningham, and Ryan McCally on their graduations.  The four seniors will miss walking with their class on Sunday.

Chad Goldberg is the voice of Stanford Baseball on KZSU, 90.1 FM.

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