That's just what the doctor ordered for a team a day removed from getting swept on the road and returning home at 1 a.m., right?
Do not sell Stanford's sensational Monday night 9-8 extra-inning comeback victory over St. Mary's short. This was a marathon, one in which Stanford prevailed, despite already being exhausted at the starting line.
Rewind one day for perspective. After six hours of solemn waiting in Tucson, the team's flight finally took off at half past eight Sunday and then stopped in San Diego on its way to San Francisco. At least one player was sick aboard the plane, and the rest of the squad was exhausted beyond belief, even before the baggage claim conveyor belt broke upon arrival to SFO.
After the bat bags and suitcases finally came, the team bus didn't roll back onto campus until about 1 a.m. Sunday night. That was barely over 12 hours before Monday's batting practice, with the first day of spring quarter classes still looming in between.
Talk all you want about the difficulty of quick turnarounds. This was one brutal test of resiliency.
Given the conditions, even a Stanford blowout loss would have been understandable. And entering the bottom of the ninth inning, that expected sluggish defeat was materializing. Mark Marquess' squad had been punchless through eight, and they trailed by five runs entering their final opportunity.
That's when the weary, aching, demoralized ballclub that had been caught in a .171 weekend scuffle roared back to life. Dominic Jose's first career hit got things started in an 8-3 ballgame. Brian Guymon and Eric Smith both walked before Kenny Diekroeger singled back up the middle to drive in the inning's first run.
Still, the Cardinal were down to their final out after Stephen Piscotty popped up. And still, Stanford refused to lie down. Brian Ragira rifled a two-run double into right center field, and Austin Wilson followed by dumping the game-tying single into right field. Danny Diekroeger became the walk-off hero in the 12th inning and somehow, someway, the Farm Boys went home 9-8 victors.
We knew that this team had talent. Now we know that they have fight.
By the time this 2012 campaign is all said and done, I suspect we'll be looking back at the improbable triumph as one of the season's biggest victories.
This win was a reflection of never-say-die character that a championship squad must have. It was also a display of grit that showed the Cardinal aren't afraid to get their hands dirty to win. Piscotty, the team's leading RBI man, even pitched in two separate relief stints to deliver 3.2 pivotal scoreless innings. Perhaps, in the middle of his lineup, Marquess has found the elusive glue to hold together his bullpen.
Most notably, though, Monday's unlikely performance snapped Stanford out of its first 2012 funk. The odds were stacked heavily against them, but the Cardinal passed their first gut check. That's just another reason to get excited about this club.
About the Author: David Lombardi is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years and is currently contributing to the Cardinal Channel. You can check several of his Stanford calls out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com, where you can also read his West Coast-oriented blog via this direct link. For Stanford baseball insights, follow David on Twitter at davidmlombardi.
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