Rainout a Chance to Circle the Wagons

TALLAHASSEE - The rain cleared up at least momentarily late Saturday night here, but not soon enough to save the evening's Game Two between Stanford and Florida State.

The Cardinal bussed 20 minutes from their hotel to Dick Howser Stadium, took batting practices in the roofed cages, and then waited through a 90-minute rain delay before the game was ultimately postponed. Just like that, the bus restarted its engine and rolled on back to the team hotel.

Almost all rain delays are tedious. But this one came after the Farm Boys were bushwhacked 17-1 in the Super Regional opener. So, count it as a blessing.

Against this lethally disciplined Seminoles team, in this humidity, in front of this insanely raucous Florida State crowd, and with this time difference, I got the feeling that the Cardinal badly needed another day to circle to wagons. The team was freshly wounded; a game Saturday felt like it would have come too soon to handle in such hostile conditions. And although it may throw a wrench in some travel plans, Mother Nature granted Stanford 24 extra hours.

It wasn't overly hot at gametime Friday, but Mark Appel's face was still flushed and drenched with sweat by the fourth inning. After spending an entire season in the dry West, the body naturally needs time to adjust to 80 percent humidity. The extra day has given Stanford that opportunity.

Then there's the whole momentum factor. The Cardinal left Friday's 17-1 beatdown with a sour, demoralized taste in their mouth. A number of players, Appel included, had to take brutal final exams at the hotel immediately after that game. An extra day of mental recovery can only help.

Either way, a monumental challenge faces this Stanford baseball team. They still must find a way to beat a loaded Florida State squad that bled them to death with walks, well-placed hits, and excellent defense on Friday night - and they must find a way to do it twice in a row. But Saturday's unexpected day off has given Stanford an opportunity to dig in for a more balanced fight.

Temperatures are expected to rise again for Sunday's 7 p.m. EST scheduled start (kzsulive.stanford.edu, 90.1 FM), but that's just the way that projected starter Brett Mooneyham likes it. He's a self-proclaimed warm-weather pitcher. The Cardinal desperately need a stellar performance from him Saturday. Because no matter how much an extra day to circle the wagons helped this club, one simple fact remains constant: their backs are up against the wall.

David Lombardi will be back on the KZSU radio call of Stanford baseball tomorrow at 7 p.m. EST. You can check him out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com.

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