Stanford Loses to Georgia 4-3
Although I would like to come up with some pithy, upbeat description of
Stanford's agonizingly close loss to Georgia in the College World Series
winner's bracket game Monday, one adjective keeps coming to mind as a descriptor
of the experience of watching Stanford in Omaha today. That adjective,
unfortunately, is "painful."
It started out fine, of course. Indeed, before the game started, I was
basking in the once familiar Rosenblatt glow. Because I had missed the game on
Saturday due to a jury trial that went longer than expected and to a trip to
Texas for a presentation, this was my first trip inside the 'blatt in five long
I am not sure why, given that this was not our first time experiencing pain
in that place, but Rosenblatt is a special place to Mini and me. As we sat there
taking it all in before the game, I told Mini that the College World Series is
my favorite sporting event of all. He agreed. There is something special about
the mix of America's game, baseball, with the passion of college sports.
Even the game itself started innocently enough. Stanford posted a nicely
crooked "3" on the scoreboard for the third inning that featured
Cardinal third baseman Zach Jones "almost a homer if they did not have that
silly extended padding" triple to the left field corner. Georgia (43-23-1)
did not score its first run until the bottom of the fourth. Things looked mighty
good for a while.
The pain, at least for this observer, started in the fourth. Surprisingly the
pain came on when Stanford was hitting in that inning. Again, the start was
wonderful, with Georgia pitcher Nick Montgomery giving up a bloop single to
Randy Molina and a walk to Sean Ratliff. Things looked bad enough for Georgia,
which was facing a 3-0 deficit at that point, that the Dawgs replaced their
starter, Montgomery, with Stephen Dodson.
Setting the scene, Stanford had two on, with nobody out. Toby Gerhart was at
bat, facing Georgia reliever Dodson, who had just entered the game to stop the
bleeding. On the very first pitch from Dodson, Gerhart attempted to lay down a
bunt to advance the runners to second and third. "Attempted" is the
key word, though. Painfully, "down" had nothing to do with it.
Instead, Gerhart's failed bunt produced only an easily-fielded lazy fly that
Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress grabbed for the first out in what would
prove to be a key half inning..
No big deal, right? Just one out, right? Well, yes and no. It was just one
out, but it was an out that Stanford gift wrapped and gave to Georgia, with no
advancement of the runners. [Unlike some others here, I do not often second
guess Mark Marquess. The man has taken team after team to the College Worlds
Series from an academic school in a sport that has, across the nation, a pretty
bad track record in the "student-athlete" sense. But, having said
that, let me second-guess him just a bit.] From this casual, but nonetheless
intense Stanford baseball fan's perspective, the single biggest skill that is
lacking on Stanford baseball teams, year after year, is bunting. Year in and
year out, we are horrible bunters. I can live with that, if we limit our chances
to mess up a bunt attempt. Bunting against a brand new pitcher does not seem to
fit that bill, so I would have preferred a different play.
Sports are a funny. The outcome of many a game depends upon a relatively few
plays. Sometimes you recognize the key moments right when they were happening.
My gut told me that the popped up bunt might become a turning point in the game.
Indeed, Jones and shortstop Jake Schlander followed up the bunt with two quick
outs to end the inning. If you asked me to pick the play that turned the tide in
the game, that painful moment would be the one I would select. From that point
forward, Stanford's offense never really got back on track.
However, Stanford starter Jeffrey Inman pitched well, right up to a painful
end that featured several walks in the critical Georgia half of the sixth
inning. Inman had some trouble, include an early round of control difficulties
in the first inning, but he wiggled out of trouble time after time, with a bit
of a boost from two Jason Castro throws to second to get Dawgs who were trying
to steal second. Georgia did plate one run in the fourth, but Stanford
maintained a 3-1 lead.
Reliever Austin Yount won most of the battle in the sixth, especially after
enduring the pain of walking in one of the runners he inherited from Inman. An
epic battle with Georgia left fielder Lyle Allen with the bases still loaded
finally ended when Allen swung through what must have been at least the twelfth
pitch of the at bat. The next Georgia hitter, pesky second basemen David Thoms
stung the ball, but hit it right to Cardinal first baseman Brent Milleville, who
snagged it from the air for the third out. Nonetheless, Georgia had closed the
gap to 3-2 in favor of Stanford in the seventh.
The pain worsened considerably in the seventh, when Yount first seemed to
escape disaster when a would-be home run slipped just foul, landing inches from
the yellow-lined padding marking the foul pole. However, Bulldog center fielder
Matt Cerione shook off the disappointment and delivered a two-RBI single to
plate the go ahead run that pushed the score to 4-3.
The Cardinal managed just six hits in this game to Georgia's nine, but much
of Stanford's pain resulted from a failure to take advantage of opportunities.
By this writer's count, the Cardinal stranded six runners, three more than it
plated. Stanford battled, even to the point of putting two on in the ninth with
one out, but it fell painfully short when pinch hitter Colin Walsh's sharply hit
grounder up the middle became the double play that ended the game.
It was painful to see an outstanding game by Second Team All-American catcher
Jason Castro go to waste. Two for three, with a two run dinger, plus a walk. Two
runners gunned down at second out of two steal attempts by Georgia. A couple of
nice blocked pitches in the dirt. You cannot ask for much more from your
Note: It appears that the Steve "MizzouCard" Easton post-season
curse is fully in effect. This is now THIRTEEN straight trips (an amazing seven
in baseball alone), all with the same result. I really think I have to think
about not coming anymore. Maybe my personal Cardinal Karma™ really is that
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg?
If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide on
our award-winning website. Sign up today for the best in Stanford sports
coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!