Nine Innings of Moments Worth Remembering

Stanford provided plenty of highlights in an unexpectedly deep run through the 2008 College World Series. Here in a nine-inning format are eighteen pieces of Omaha that Stanford fans won't want to forget.

CONDITIONS

Pushing sixty years but sparkling after a recent renovation, Rosenblatt Stadium still knows how to throw a College World Series party. The Jumbotron scoreboard and talented organist give the park a best-of-both-old-and-new feel. Gameday traffic was surprisingly manageable and tailgaters were out in force. Attendance drew from all eight fan bases, plus Omaha families and several visiting youth baseball teams. Like Stanford's athletic facilities, the structure itself is mercifully free of obsequious advertising.

 

PROBABLES

Zesto's milkshakes (outside Rosenblatt)

vs.

Gorat's Steakhouse (centralOmaha)

 

Omaha is famous for both. Zesto's burger-fry and ice cream gets a line around the block in College World Series week, while the unpretentious wood-paneled Gorat's is an inconspicuous gem favored by Omaha native Warren Buffet. The Zesto's thick shakes were good, but Gorat's served up a T-bone to die for along with a tableful of extras – and the friendly service certainly earned their tip.

 

GAME ON

Top 1st: Freshman Danny Sandbrink drew his second straight elimination-game start Wednesday against Miami, and did not shy from the pressure of facing the nation's top-ranked team. In four innings, he allowed two hits and one run, striking out three. Sandbrink's efficient work allowed Stanford to confidently build a lead they would never relinquish.

 

Bottom 1st: Designated hitter Randy Molina brought home Stanford's first Omaha run in the top of the fourth against Florida State . Popping a double down the right field line, Molina drove in Cord Phelps to give Stanford a 1-0 lead over the Seminoles.

 

Top 2nd: Key strikeouts came in twos against Miami . On three occasions the Hurricanes got a runner into scoring position, only to see Stanford pitchers end the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. The Stanford staff combined for 10 K's on the night.

 

Bottom 2nd: All week long Phelps showed how dangerous he is, going 7-for-18 in the CWS, tallying a team-leading 13 total bases and scoring a team-high six runs. He was a home run short of hitting for the cycle against Miami.

 

Top 3rd: Rain pounded the Midwest all week and caused disastrous flooding, but aside from some showers during the Miami game, the Cardinal were fortunately spared the violent thunderstorms that twice delayed the LSU-North Carolina elimination game.

 

Bottom 3rd: Three was a big number for the Cardinal offense. Three triples were hit in the CWS, one by third baseman Zach Jones and two by Phelps. The three-baggers accounted for a total of five Stanford runs.

Top 4th: Senior pitcher Erik Davis shined in relief against the Hurricanes. The converted starter pitched four innings of two-run ball, striking out six Miami batters and getting out of jams in the seventh and eighth with only one run scored.

 

Bottom 4th: Georgia 's heralded reliever Joshua Fields came in with a lights-out reputation, but had a tough time with Stanford's lineup in his two innings of work. Throwing one inning in each game, Fields allowed six batters to reach base (including two walks and a hit by pitch) and saw four runs cross the plate.

 

Top 5th: Georgia's Matt Cerione, hero of the two teams' first game, was shut down in the Dawgs' otherwise successful victory over Stanford to send them to the CWS final. The centerfielder, who drove in the game-winning run on Monday, went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against three Cardinal pitchers on Saturday.

 

Bottom 5th: Stanford's bats were not intimidated by the bevy of quality pitchers in the tournament. The Cardinal hit five home runs over their four games, third-best in the CWS as of Sunday.

 

Top 6th: Stanford got a break from a bang-bang call in its second game when Georgia ripped a home-run ball just inches foul down the right field line. Any higher and it goes off the pole, any further left and it's on the stripe for extra bases. Georgia took the lead in the next at-bat, but Stanford avoided a possibly back-breaking three-run homer and escaped with only a one-run deficit.

 

Bottom 6th: Freshman Ben Clowe showed a glimpse of the future, taking Fields deep in the waning moments of Stanford's final game. The three-run home run trimmed the lead to 10-8, making Georgia sweat for one more batter.

 

Top 7th: When opposing batters weren't striking out, Stanford's infielders were taking care of ground balls. The Cardinal turned four double plays in the CWS, including a strike-him-out throw-him-out gem that ended the first inning of the tournament.

 

Bottom 7th: Centerfielder Sean Ratliff blew the Miami game open with a no-questions-asked two-run home run to the right-center seats. His team-leading 22nd homer represented the first half of a four-run fifth inning that gave Stanford a 7-1 lead.

 

Top 8th: Freshman Drew Storen ripped through the ninth inning to secure Stanford's elimination-game win over the ‘Canes. Facing three batters with two inherited runners on, Storen induced a foul out and a strikeout, then caught a line drive to end the game.

 

Bottom 8th: Left fielder Joey August gave Stanford its first lead against Miami with great baserunning in the third. On a Molina flyout to left field, August took off from third after the tagup and powered home ahead of the off-line throw, tapping the plate with his right hand to put the Cardinal up 2-1.

 

Top 9th: With two on and Miami threatening in the bottom of the fifth, Jason Castro provided the signature play of Stanford's can-do run to Omaha, kick-starting a defensive rally with a spectacular diving catch. A Miami bunt attempt flew into the air foul on the third base side. Castro sprinted from behind the plate, waved off Zach Jones and guided his catcher's mitt under the ball for critical out. Two straight strikeouts finished what was Miami 's last real chance to get back in the game.

 

Bottom 9: When a go-ahead double by Castro was wrongly ruled foul in the top of the 9th against Florida State , it looked like a good opportunity for the overachieving Cardinal squad to fold. It didn't quite work out that way. Stanford exploded for 11 runs in the final frame, aided by two Seminole errors. Brent Milleville notched four RBIs in the torrent, with every position in the lineup accounting for at least one run in the highest-scoring CWS inning in fourteen years.

 

Christopher P. Anderson is a Bootleg contributor and KZSU Sports broadcaster.


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