Fifth Time's a Charm

It was everything you could hope for as a Stanford fan - the Card stay alive to play another day in Omaha; Hudgins goes the distance and spares the bullpen; and the offense lit up, led by Carlos Quentin and his pair of HRs. But Wednesday's tense 5-3 victory also reminds us just how tough Cal State Fullerton is. After all, this narrow victory was the first W after four L's on the season versus the Titans...

The Stanford Cardinal remained alive in the College World Series on Wednesday afternoon with a 5-3 victory over the Cal State Fullerton Titans.  John Hudgins was masterful on the mound tossing a complete game, five-hitter while walking two and striking out seven.  The junior righthander improved his record to 13-3 on the year and passed Jeremy Guthrie's 2002 innings pitched total for the most in a single season at Stanford.  At the plate, Carlos Quentin smacked two home runs while the bottom of the order keyed a huge two-run rally in the fifth inning.

The Cardinal jumped on the scoreboard first with two runs off CSF starter Wes Littleton in the bottom of the first inning.  With one out, Jonny Ash singled to right and then Carlos Quentin stepped to the plate and homered to left, his 11th bomb of the season.  Littleton settled down to retire the next two batters, but the damage had already been done as Stanford had an early 2-0 advantage.

Meanwhile, John Hudgins garnered the starting assignment today and looked great in the top of the first as he set down the Fullerton hitters in order.  After he retired the first two guys in the second, DH P.J. Pilittere smoked a home run to right field to cut the Stanford lead in half.

Then in the bottom of the third, Fullerton pushed across two runs to take their first lead of the game.  With one out, leadoff hitter Ronnie Prettyman reached on a fielding error by shortstop Tobin Swope.  After Justin Turner singled, All-American Shane Costa doubled down the left field line to score two and give Fullerton a 3-2 lead.  Kyle Boyer was up next and the Titan #4 hitter crushed a ball well over the fence in left field, but luckily for Stanford, it was ruled a foul ball.  Hudgins settled down to retire Boyer and then the Titans in the third inning.

Littleton settled into a groove after the first inning home run as he allowed just one hit (a leadoff single to Quentin in the fourth) over the next three frames.  In fact, through four innings, Littleton had thrown just 33 pitches.  But then in the fifth, with the score still 3-2 Titans, the Cardinal produced two runs to take the lead.  Jed Lowrie got things started with a line drive single up the middle.  Chris Carter then stepped up and lined a single to right to move Lowrie to third.  The next hitter was Brian Hall and the Cardinal first baseman quickly got down in the count 0-and-2.  But after fighting off a couple of tough pitches, Hall singled into right field to score Lowrie which tied the game at 3-3.  Tobin Swope then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners up to second and third.  And with Sam Fuld at the plate, Littleton uncorked a wild pitch to score Carter which gave the Cardinal a 4-3 lead.  Stanford easily could have had more as Fuld eventually walked, but Jonny Ash grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Hudgins settled down nicely after his third inning trouble.  He worked around a leadoff walk in the fourth, retired the Titans in order in the fifth, while he also put up a zero in the sixth despite a one-out walk.  In the seventh, Hudgins hit the leadoff batter with a pitch, but a fly out, and a key double play off the bat of Prettyman ended that inning.

Littleton set down the Stanford hitters in order in the sixth, but a leadoff walk to Lowrie in the bottom of the seventh ended his afternoon.  Stanford had a chance to score in that seventh inning as pinch-hitter Chris Minaker laid down a bunt, but Hall and Swope both struck out to end the threat to keep the score at 4-3.

In the eighth, Hudgins hit Costa with a pitch with one out.  But the junior righthander struck out Boyer looking and then got Burgos to pop out to end the top of the eighth. 

In the bottom of the eighth, with two outs, Quentin connected on his second home run of the day, a solo shot to left.  Quentin received a green light from Coach Marquess in that at-bat and took advantage of a fastball right down the middle as he smoked it 400 feet over the fence.

In the ninth, Pilittere singled to leadoff the inning, but Hudgins retired Danny Dorn and Kurt Suzuki on groundouts and then Jason Corapci flied out to shallow left to end the game.  Hudgins allowed just one hit over the final 6 2/3 innings.

Game Notes:
* The complete game from Hudgins was the eighth of the season for him.  He's now 13-3 with a 2.96 ERA.  In four postseason starts, Hudgins is 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA.

* Hudgins has thrown 158 1/3 innings this season.

* Carlos Quentin was the top performer at the plate as he finished 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBI.  With the three hits today, Quentin has his average back over .400 (.404).

* Both Ryan Garko and Quentin picked-up their 100th hits of the season today (Quentin now has 101, Garko 100).  The Stanford single season record is 110 by Sam Fuld last year.

* The victory for Stanford was their first win of the year against Fullerton this season (1-4).

* Stanford has won 21 of its last 23 games overall and is 8-1 in their last nine games against ranked teams.

* Stanford is now a remarkable 34-6 during day games this season (.850) while they're just 15-10 (.600) under the lights.

Cal State Fullerton  0 1 2  0 0 0  0 0 0  -  3 5 1
Stanford             2 0 0  0 2 0  0 1 x  -  5 8 1

WP: John Hudgins (13-3)
LP: Wes Littleton (7-4)

HR: Cal State Fullerton - P.J. Pilittere (3); Stanford - Carlos Quentin 2 (11, 12)

Records: #2 Cal State Fullerton (50-15), #3 Stanford (49-16)

* The Cardinal and the Titans will get together again tomorrow with the winner advancing to the best-of-three championship series.  Stanford has announced that Matt Manship (2-4, 3.44 ERA, 9 saves) will start on the hill.  Manship's only start this year came back on May 4th against USC when he allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings.  He's made 22 relief appearances this season while he's totaled 55 innings on the mound.  Cal State Fullerton is starting their ace pitcher, Jason Windsor (11-2, 1.81 ERA).  Windsor allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings against LSU on Friday.  He began the year in the bullpen, but has been Fullerton's best starter since moving into the rotation in March.

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