1987 NCAA Champions Tribute
The 1987 season will forever be remembered as perhaps the finest season in Stanford baseball history.
Not only did the Cardinal win a school record 53 games and the Pacific-10 Conference Southern Division by five full games, but under 11-year head coach Mark Marquess, Stanford finally captured the ultimate prize - the NCAA College World Series championship.
"Winning the national championship was an experience no one on our team will ever forget," said Marquess. "To realize the dream of being champions is a very special feeling. It's something that stays with you forever."
Stanford swept all four games in the NCAA West Regional to advance to Omaha, where it won five of six games. In the title game against Oklahoma State, the Cardinal pounded the top-ranked Cowboys for nine runs on 15 hits to back the pitching of All-American Jack McDowell.
The Cardinal jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. With one out, Toi Cook singled, stole second and went to third on a single by Ed Sprague. Paul Carey's infield out allowed Cook to score the first run of the game. Sprague came home with two outs when David Esquer lined a single up the middle.
Oklahoma State bounced back with a single run in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. But, as was the case the entire CWS, the Cardinal stormed back immediately to regain the lead.
In the fifth, Ruben Amaro walked and went to third on Cook's double. A wild pitch by OSU starter Pat Hope allowed Amaro to score and pushed Cook to third. Sprague's sacrifice fly brought in Cook and put the Cardinal on top 4-3. Back-to-back doubles by Paul Carey and Ron Witmeyer made the score 5-3. It was 6-3 after Esquer's bunt single drove home Witmeyer.
The Cowboys scored a single run in the fifth to pull within 6-4, where the score remained until the ninth.
In the eighth, however, Oklahoma State had two runners on with no out and the bases loaded with two out, but came away empty. McDowell walked the first two batters of the inning, then gave way to Steve Chitren, who did his impression of the heartbreak kid.
Chitren proceeded to strike out Benny Castillo and Brad Beanblossom before hitting Anthony Blackmon with pitch to load the bases. The Cardinal's relief ace completed the hat trick by striking out Ray Ortiz to end the threat.
Stanford increased the lead to 9-4 by scoring three times in the ninth. Cook and Sprague led off the inning with singles. Paul Carey, who would later be named the Series' Most Valuable Player, doubled home Cook. Sprague scored later in the inning on a passed ball and Carey scored the final run on an infield out by Doug Robbins.
Chitren allowed a run in the ninth, but it didn't matter much. The Cardinal held on to record the first baseball championship in school history.
"I'm numb," said Paul Carey following the title game. "My head's spinning and I feel like I'm up in the air right now. There were a few times when I got nervous, when we were in the field and the other team was scoring. But when we were at bat, I knew we could do it."
In order to reach the championship game, Stanford needed to overcome some hurdles and receive a few miracles. They did both.
The Cardinal's 3-2 opening win over Georgia was marred by two rain delays, which included playing the final three innings the following day. McDowell and Chitren out-dueled First-Team All-Americans Derek Lilliquist and Cris Carpenter to give Stanford the win.
A 6-1 win over Texas and a 6-2 loss to Oklahoma State put the Cardinal a game away from elimination. That's when the miracle occurred - a game that will forever stand out in Stanford baseball history.
The Cardinal trailed LSU 5-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning and were headed for home when it struck. With one out, Amaro and Cook walked and Sprague was hit by a pitch. Paul Carey, a freshman, stepped up to the plate and hit a Ben McDonald fastball over the left field wall for a game-winning grand slam and a 6-5 victory.
The next day, the Cardinal trailed Texas 3-0 in the first. But, relief pitcher Al Osuna closed the door on the Longhorns over the final eight and two-thirds innings as Stanford came-from-behind for a 9-3 win, putting them in the championship game against No. 1 ranked Oklahoma State.
The heroes of the '87 CWS proved to be Carey, who hit .381 and drove in seven runs, DH Mark Machtolf, who led the team in hitting with a .429 average, shortstop David Esquer, who hit .350 and had six RBI, and first baseman Ron Witmeyer, who hit .409. Osuna, Brian Keyser (1.80 ERA), Lee Plemel (1-0, 2.89), Steve Chitren (1-0, 2 saves) and McDowell led a pitching staff that compiled a 2.94 ERA in 55 innings.
Carey, Esquer and Machtolf were named to the All-College World Series team.
"It was unbelievable," said Marquess. "I can't describe the feeling of winning the national championship."
1987 NCAA Championship Game
June 7, 1987
Stanford 9, Oklahoma State 5
Stanford AB R H RBI Oklahoma St. AB R H RBI
Amaro, LF 3 1 0 0 Blackmon, CF 3 1 1 0
Cook, CF 5 3 3 0 Ortiz, LF 5 1 2 0
Sprague, 3B 4 2 3 1 Ventura, 3B 5 0 4 1
P. Carey, RF 5 2 3 2 Ifland, DH 4 1 1 2
Witmeyer, 1B 4 1 2 1 Barragan, 1B 5 0 2 0
Esquer, SS 5 0 2 2 Fariss, SS 3 0 1 0
Robbins, C 5 0 0 1 Smith, C 4 0 0 0
Machtolf, DH 4 0 2 0 Castillo, RF 3 1 1 1
F. Carey, 2B 4 0 0 0 Beanblossom, 2B 3 1 1 1
TOTALS 39 9 15 7 TOTALS 35 5 13 5
Stanford 200 - 040 - 003 -- 9-15-1
Oklahoma State 001 - 210 - 001 -- 5-13-1
Game Winning RBI - Sprague E--Castillo, F. Carey. LOB--Stanford 8,
Oklahoma State 11. DP--Stanford 4, Oklahoma State 2. 2B--Ventura 2, Cook, P.
Carey 2, Witmeyer. HR--Castillo (11), Beanblossom (3), Ifland (15). SB--Cook 2
(28), Esquer (16). SF--Sprague, Ifland.
STANFORD IP H R ER BB SO
McDowell, W (13-5) 7.0 12 4 3 4 7
Chitren, S (13) 2.0 1 1 1 1 3
Hope, L (13-3) 5.1 11 6 6 2 3
Rockman 2.2 4 3 2 1 3
Long 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
McDowell pitched to two batters in eighth inning. Rockman pitched to three
batters in ninth inning. WP--McDowell, Hope 2. PB--Smith. HBP--Blackmon (by
McDowell), Blackmon (by Chitren). U--Christal, Rountree, Nelson, Rosenberry.