Stanford Handles Rice, Forces Monday Title Finale

With another tremendous pitching performance by John Hudgins, this time on just three days rest, the Cardinal defeated Rice today 8-3, extending the National Championship Series to a deciding Game 3. While the Cardinal made a few mistakes that could have been costly, the Cardinal Workhorse Hudgins delivered seven strong innings and picked up his 14th victory in 2003. Read on for details of the victory.

Stanford 8, Rice 3

After a heartbreaking loss last night in Game 1 of the National Championship Series to the Rice Owls, the Cardinal needed a victory today to stay alive in the College World Series and have a shot at their third national title.  Behind the golden arm of John Hudgins and the bats of Jonny Ash, Sam Fuld and Tobin Swope, Stanford staved off elimination for the fourth time at the College World Series and now find themselves needing one win for a National Championship.

On just three days rest, Hudgins tossed a 12-pitch, one-two-three inning in the first.  The Cardinal, as they have done throughout the year, wasted no time in the bottom half of the inning.  Facing another First Team All-American in Wade Townsend, Sam Fuld hit a high, 1-0 fastball over the right field fence to give the Cardinal an early 1-0 lead.

In the second inning Hudgins gave up a leadoff double, but Rice would fail to score as Hudgins got a strikeout and two popouts to end the inning, maintaining the 1-0 Stanford lead.

Wade Townsend through a 1-2-3 second but got into trouble in the third.  The bruised and battered Brian Hall came through with a leadoff single.  After falling behind 0-2, Tobin Swope surprised everyone by doubling to left. Swope was just 2-22 in the College World Series prior to that at-bat.  With the 8-9 hitters on second and third, the Cardinal had a great scoring chance with Fuld, Ash, and Carlos Quentin coming up.  However, Townsend recovered and struck out both Fuld and Ash on 3-2 sliders.  But on the first pitch to Quentin with two outs, Townsend missed low and the ball went all the way to the backstop, scoring Brian Hall to make it 2-0.  On the very next pitch, Quentin checked his swing at a ball up and in and accidentally singled to right, driving home Swope and Stanford led 3-0.

Hudgins could not hold the Owls at 3-0, but it was not entirely his fault.  After one out singles by Craig Stansberry and Enrique Cruz, Matt Ueckert hit a fly ball to deep right.  Well within the confines of the ballpark, Quentin looked like he would have an easy play.  But he looked as if he heard Fuld call him off, easing off the ball for just a moment.  The ball would fall in the outfield between Quentin and Fuld, and a run would score for Rice.  The play was reminiscent of the ball the Quentin lost in the glare of the press box in the 2001 Championship.  But this time, Hudgins would bail him out, allowing no further runs and keeping the lead at 3-1 Stanford.

Each team had threats in the fifth and sixth but failed to score.  In the top of the sixth, Hudgins struck out Paul Janish looking on a 2-2 breaking ball to end the inning.  Janish appeared to try and stick an elbow out to get hit by the baseball, but Tony Maners, the home plate umpire, ruled that it did not hit him and said that in addition, it was strike three.  Rice Head Coach Wayne Graham got into a heated argument with Maners and was subsequently ejected.

Meanwhile, Wade Townsend settled into a groove, as he did not allow a Stanford run in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings.  Finally, in the seventh, things came apart for Townsend and the Owls.  Jed Lowrie singled to center to start the inning, and after a Townsend wild pitch, Chris Carter walked.  Brian Hall put down a good bunt on the first base side to move up the runners, but reached when 1B Vincent Sinisi threw the ball away, loading the bases with nobody out.  Up stepped Tobin Swope, who was already 2-2 with 2 2B.  Swope got ahead 3-0, took two straight strikes, but then took ball four low and the Cardinal led 4-1.  But it would not be 4-1 for long. Fuld swung at the next pitch and grounded to first.  Sinisi was going to go home with the ball, but dropped the baseball, allowing Carter to score and everyone to reach, as the bases still remained loaded with nobody out.  Finally, Jonny Ash ripped a double off the RF wall, just missing another HR, as two more runs scored off Townsend and Stanford led 7-1.  They would knock out the Rice starter, and would add another run on a Quentin sac fly, taking an 8-1 lead.

Hudgins went out for the eighth inning, but promptly walked Stansberry and gave up a double to Cruz.  Ueckert drove home two with a single to RF, driving Hudgins from the game with 8-3 lead.  Kodiak Quick would get the call after his disastrous Saturday evening, and would show signs of nerves, throwing two wild pitches and walking the batter Janish, as Marquess would make another pitching change with runners at the corners and still nobody out.  David O'Hagan got Justin Ruchti to hit into a 1-6-3 double play, and because of interference on Janish at 2B, the run did not score and Stanford still led 8-3.  O'Hagan would get Chris Kolkorst to fly out, and retired the side in order in the ninth, giving the Cardinal a chance to play for the title on Monday.

         1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9   R  H  E
Rice     0 0 0  1 0 0  0 2 0   3 10  2
Stanford 1 0 2  0 0 0  5 0 X   8  9  0

WP: John Hudgins (14-3)
LP: Wade Townsend (11-2)

TOG: 3:00

HR:  Stanford – Fuld (4); Rice - None


-  Stanford will play in their third "winner-take-all" championship game in the last four years.  Stanford lost to LSU 6-5 in 2000 and to Miami 12-1 in 2001.

-  John Hudgins picked up his 14th win.  He now has the second most wins in a single season in Stanford history (just behind Justin Wayne's 15 in 2000).  Hudgins is now 3-0 at the CWS in 3 starts, and has allowed just five earned runs in 24 innings.

-  Stanford lost the coin flip and will be the visiting team tomorrow.

-  Sam Fuld's leadoff homer was his 23rd hit at the College World Series (career), tying him for the All-Time record with Texas' Keith Moreland (1973-1975).

-  Jonny Ash leads all CWS players with 14 hits in this series.  He is just one away from Jason Lane's 1998 record of 15 hits, and he will break the all time AB record with his first AB tomorrow.  He also has an 11-game hit streak.

-  Brian Hall and Tobin Swope went a combined 4-6 with 4 runs scored.  They made up for Ryan Garko, Danny Putnam and Carter, who went a combined 0-13.

-  Rice 1B Vincent Sinisi made two errors in the seventh.  He made his first error of the season just yesterday.

-  The Cardinal handed Wade Townsend just his second loss of the season.

-  Tomorrow's Championship Game pits Stanford LHP Mark Romanczuk (12-1, 3.72) vs. Rice RHP Phillip Humber (10-3, 3.40).  Start time is 4:00 pm Pacific, 6:00 Central.  The winner of tomorrow's game is the 2003 National Champion.

Chad Goldberg is the Play-by-Play Voice of Stanford Baseball for KZSU.

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