The Senior Class of 2002 is the only graduating class at Stanford University to advance to Omaha in each of their four years. While USC and Arizona St. have more national championships than the Cardinal (at 5 and 4 respectively), the Cardinal has been the most consistent performer in the Pac 10 for the last half-decade in terms of post-season performance. As the Cardinal looks for its 3rd national title, this column will look back at the history of the Cardinal in the CWS.
While the Cardinal certainly have made a trip to Omaha seem like an annual rite of passage, getting to the College World Series is not easily done by any stretch of the imagination. Great teams in Stanford history failed to advance to the CWS. The 1998 Stanford Cardinal, led by National Player of the Year Jeff Austin and featuring standouts like Chad Hutchinson, Edmund Muth, John Gall, Jason Young, and Justin Wayne, held the top spot in the Baseball America Top 25 poll for 14 consecutive weeks. However, a late season slide followed by defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount and Long Beach St. had the Cardinal watching the coverage of Omaha at home on ESPN. Being that stepping onto the field at Rosenblatt Stadium is no easy task, the Cardinal certainly has a proud tradition in Omaha.
The history of Stanford Baseball and the College World Series is largely a story of the career of Stanford head coach Mark Marquess. Both a standout on the field and in the dugout for the Card, Coach Marquess is one of only six coaches in Division I college baseball to play and coach in the CWS. The only Stanford appearance in the College World Series that Mark Marquess was not a part of was Stanford's 1953 appearance, their first at the CWS. In 1967, Mark Marquess started at first base for the Cardinal, en route to a 3rd place finish. While Coach Marquess made only one appearance as a player, he has made 12 subsequent trips to Omaha as head coach of Stanford, starting in 1982.
In 1987 and 1988, the Cardinal emerged from Omaha with the national championship of college baseball. 1987's national championship team, led by former Major League Cy Young Award Winner Jack McDowell, Freshman of the Year Paul Carey, and closer Steve Chitren, defeated Oklahoma St. 9-5 in the Title Game. Carey's grand slam Home Run in the bottom of the 10th inning against LSU was perhaps the most dramatic moment in Stanford CWS history. 13 years later, LSU exacted revenge in their final at bat in 2000. In 1988, the Cardinal defeated rival Arizona State 9-4 to take home their second title.
In the past six years, Stanford has made five trips to Omaha. 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2001 have all been outstanding runs in Omaha, even if the Cardinal has come up short each year. In 1999, the Cardinal took care of in-state rival Cal St. Fullerton and Adam Johnson in Game 1 by a score of 9-2, and knocked off Florida St. in Game 2. Needing only one victory in two games to advance to the national championship, Stanford lost two in a row to the Seminoles. The second game was particularly painful, as the Cardinal, down 7-0 early, rallied to lead the game going into the 9th. However, FSU's Marshall McDougal tied the game with a HR in the 9th, and Karl Jernigan won it with a HR off Tony Cogan in the 13th inning as the Cardinal took home 3rd place.
In 2000 and 2001, the Cardinal finished outstanding seasons just one game short of a national title. In 2000, Stanford swept its first 3 games in Omaha, including a 19-9 victory against Louisiana-Lafayette, in which Stanford trailed 6-0 in the 2nd, but rallied behind an Andy Topham Grand Slam and Edmund Muth's 3 HRs. On top over LSU 5-2 in the 8th inning of the national championship against LSU with Golden Spikes Candidate Justin Wayne on the hill, LSU rallied for 3 runs on a solo HR by Blair Barbier and a 2 run HR by Jeremy Whitten. In the bottom of the 9th, Brad Cresse's RBI single brought home the Ryan Theriot with the winning run, as Stanford fell just 5 outs short of the title.
In 2001, the Card once again won its first 3 games, including 2 against Cal St. Fullerton. With Mike Gosling starting the championship game against Miami, things looked good for the Cardinal. However, 3 hours later, the Cardinal were bridesmaids once again, trounced by Miami 12-1.
Entering the 2002 CWS, Stanford has just as good a chance to win the CWS as ever. However, with Notre Dame, a team that has won 40 out of 46, as well as Rice and Texas, with two of the best pitching staffs in the country, Stanford has a difficult road to the title game. While the Senior Class of 2002 certainly has had a successful career, they certainly are not satisfied just an appearance at 1202 Bert Murphy Drive.
Here is a year by year history of the Cardinal in Omaha:
YEAR RESULT FINAL RECORD
1953 T-5 25-15-2
1967 T-3 36-6-1
1982 T-5 &nbs