The Bootleg's baseball writer David Lombardi checks in from muggy Tallahassee with some insight,…
Top 5 Moments of 2012 (with Audio)
In retrospect, this full-throttled display of Cardinal offensive might seems like a mirage in the desert now just because Stanford never regained the prowess it demonstrated in its 13-2 start. After taking two of three from Rice in March, the Farm Boys' university-mandated finals week off threw a wrench in their previously well-oiled engine. But let us not forget the fourth inning in which this team scored 13 runs and batted around twice against Texas. Afterwards, the Longhorns' bus with coach Augie Garrido aboard couldn't have been a fun place to be.
No. 2: Appel 14 Strikeouts/Justin Ringo Walk-Off Vs. Rice
In a moment that represented the apex of Stanford's sizzling start, Justin Ringo - a last-minute replacement for an injured Jake Stewart - blasted a two-run 10th inning walk-off homer into the Bay Area night to lead the Cardinal over No. 4 Rice on Friday night. The junior's season was disappointing, but this is a moment that he'll remember 50 years from now. The jack capped off Mark Appel's career 14 strikeout night.
No. 3 Wilson's Walk-off Bomb vs. USC
The Cardinal didn't immediately lose their magic after the preseason. The Pac-12 opener against USC, in fact, was one of the grittiest wins of the season for the Farm Boys. One strike away from victory, Mark Appel gave up a ninth inning single allowing the Trojans to surge ahead 2-1. In their final at-bat, though, Stanford would not be denied. Kenny Diekroeger tied the score with a clutch sacrifice fly, and Austin Wilson pulverized a ball over the left center field fence that sent everyone home happy. That was just one of the big man's team-leading 10 homers in 2012.
No. 4: The Great Blandino's Weekend vs. ASU
Massive production from guys who hadn't contributed all too much before 2012 was a major theme of this past Stanford season. Brett Michael Doran provided game-winning sparks. John Hochstatter kicked off his Cardinal career in phenomenal fashion. Danny Diekroeger locked down the second base position following Lonnie Kauppila's injury by hitting a team-leading .354.
But perhaps no one was more impressive than the local freshman Alex Blandino, who belted eight homers in just 153 at-bats. Three of those shots came over the course of two games against Arizona State. Two left the yard in Stanford's 17-5 Friday win and another one sailed out Saturday before the main event in the bottom of the ninth. That would be Blandino's walk-off screamer down the third base line that propelled the Cardinal to an 8-7 win and earned the third baseman national player of the week honors.
No. 5: True Grit: Five-Run Comeback vs. St. Mary's
Stanford was reeling after being swept in Arizona. Their flight home was long, layover-filled, and torturous. At least one player suffered from motion sickness on the way home. Yet, the Cardinal still had to gear up just over 12 hours after their 1 a.m. campus return to play St. Mary's in a midweek tilt.
Through eight and half innings, Mark Marquess' squad looked expectedly disinterested. They had sleepwalked to the their final opportunity trailing 8-3. That's when the miracle began. With the bases loaded, a Kenny Diekroeger single, Brian Ragira double, and Austin Wilson base hit plated five to send the game to extra innings. Stephen Piscotty ended up pitching twice to open the door for Danny Diekroeger, who delivered a 9-8 win with a bouncer through the right side in the 12th inning. Those who stuck around for the entire marathon went nuts.
That furious comeback sealed the most improbable win in a season that saw a lot of success. Thanks for enjoying our coverage, both here on the Bootleg and on KZSU Radio.
David Lombardi, a TV and radio (95.7 The Game SF) personality in the Bay Area, is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years. You can check out several of his Stanford calls and other writing at www.davidlombardisports.com.
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