Card Open Postseason With Thrilling Victory

The Stanford Cardinal baseball squad opened the postseason in style on Friday night with an exciting 3-2, 13 inning victory over the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Stanford had to rally in the late innings to force extras and then won it in the bottom of the 13th on a Scott Dragicevich single. On the mound, it was the Jeremy Guthrie story as the junior hurler tossed all 13 frames. Read on for a recap.

This was the kind of the game that will be remembered for quite some time.  The Stanford Cardinal, behind an unbelievable outing from Jeremy Guthrie, outlasted the Cal State Fullerton Titans 3-2 in 13 innings on Friday night in NCAA Tournament action.  Guthrie tossed all 13 frames giving up nine hits, two runs (one earned) while walking three and striking out four to improve his record to 11-1.  The Cardinal had to battle back from a late 2-0 deficit as they put across single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to force extra frames.  Finally in the bottom of the 13th, Scott Dragicevich singled up the middle with the bases loaded and out out to win it for Stanford.

This game was a pitcher's duel from start-to-finish by Guthrie and CSF starter Wes Littleton.  Neither team was able to put across any runs through the first six innings while the teams combined for only six hits during that period.  Finally in the top of the seventh, the Titans got to Guthrie.  David Fischer led off by drawing a walk and then was sacrificed to second on a bunt off the bat of Jason Corapci.  Mike Martinez was the next hitter and he singled into right field scoring Fischer from second to put Fullerton ahead 1-0.

The Titans added another run off Guthrie in the top of the eighth inning to go ahead 2-0 in what looked like an insurmountable lead for the Cardinal to overcome versus Littleton.  Chris Stringfellow led the inning off by singling and then Justin Smyres laid down a bunt only to have Guthrie bobble it and everyone was safe.  After Shane Costa sacrificed both runners up with a bunt, Geoff Comfort was walked intentionally to load the bases.  With the pressure on, Guthrie struck out Nick Fitzgerald for the second out and looked like he may get out of the jam.  But the first pitch to the next hitter, David Fischer, plunked him in the head forcing home a run for a 2-0 Fullerton lead.

Then in the bottom of the eighth the Card began their comeback against Littleton.  Scott Dragicevich led off with a double, but looked as if he was going to be stranded at second after Andy Topham struck out and Brian Hall flew out.  But Chris Carter delivered the clutch hit poking a single into left field scoring Dragicevich cutting the lead in half at 2-1.  Then after Guthrie pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, the Cardinal went back to work in the bottom half of the inning.  Ryan Garko began the inning with a single to left field and then was lifted from the game in favor of Tobin Swope.  Jason Cooper was the next hitter and he popped out to second bringing up Chris O'Riordan.  On the first pitch of the at-bat, Swope broke for second and made it in safely with the stolen base.  The next pitch to O'Riordan was lined right back up the middle scoring Swope to tie the game at 2-2 and O'Riordan moved up to second on the throw.  Carlos Quentin was then walked intentionally which ended Littleton's evening as CSF closer Chad Cordero was brought into pitch.  Cordero was able to get out of the jam striking out Dragicevich and then getting Andy Topham to ground out.

So the game moved on into extra innings at this point which didn't seem to stop Jeremy Guthrie.  The National Player of the Year candidate pitched a quick top of the tenth as only one runner reached base (on an error) and then worked a 1-2-3 11th frame.  Stanford got a two-out double by Sam Fuld in the bottom of the tenth, but Donny Lucy (who replaced the pinch-runner Swope in the top half of the inning) flew out to center to end that threat.  In the bottom of the 11th, Cordero hit O'Riordan with a pitch with one out, but easily retired the next two hitter on a pop-out and a strike out to end the inning.

In the top of the 12th, Costa singled to right field with one out and then Comfort lined a ball into center field only to have Fuld track it down.  But Costa had gone too far off first base and Fuld fired the ball back into first to nip Costa for the third and final out of the inning.  Cordero was removed from the game to start the bottom of the 12th in favor of Sean Martin and Martin worked a quick inning giving up only a two-out single to Carter.  Guthrie went back out in the 13th, and hit Corapci with a pitch with two outs, but Mike Martinez lined out to Dragicevich at third base to end the inning.

With the game approaching four hours in length, Stanford finally ended it in the bottom of the 13th.  Donny Lucy led off with a double to the left-center field gap and then Cooper was walked intentionally to put runners on at first and second.  O'Riordan sacrificed both runners up with a bunt and then Quentin was walked intentionally to load the bases.  The next hitter was Scott Dragicevich and the Cardinal third baseman came through as he lined a ball into center field in front of the hard-charging Chris Stringfellow which scored Lucy from third with the game-winning run.

Game Notes :
* Guthrie unofficially threw 145 pitches on the evening and would have been lifted from the game in favor of Dan Rich if the contest had gone on into the 14th inning.  Guthrie was certainly helped out tonight by only recording four strikeouts.  This allowed for numerous quick innings as eight of his 13 innings pitched tonight required only ten or fewer pitches.

* This was Stanford's fifth consecutive win which matches their longest winning streak of the season (fourth time).

* Sam Fuld extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 2-for-6 performance tonight.

* Fullerton starter Wes Littleton went 8 1/3 innings yielding two runs on seven hits.  He walked one and struck out three.

Cal State Fullerton   0 0 0  0 0 0  1 1 0  0 0 0  0   -   2   9   1
Stanford              0 0 0  0 0 0  0 1 1  0 0 0  1   -   3  11   3

Stanford will next play the Long Beach State 49ers as the Dirtbags beat San Jose State 6-3 earlier this afternoon.   LBSU is expected to go with ace pitcher Abe Alvarez (12-2, 2.55) while the Cardinal has yet to announce a starting pitcher.  First pitch is scheduled for 3pm.  Fullerton will play SJSU at 11am in an elimination game.  The winner of the first game tomorrow will play the loser of the second game at 7pm.

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