June 18, 2003
Box Score |
By ERIC OLSON
Associated Press Writer
OMAHA, Neb. - Stanford pitcher John Hudgins was cruising against Cal State Fullerton in the late innings Wednesday, but Cardinal coach Mark Marquess was nervous anyway.
Carlos Quentin brought instant relief with two outs in the eighth, hitting his second home run of the game in Stanford's 5-3 victory at the College World Series.
The victory - Stanford's first in five games this season against the Titans - forces a rematch Thursday to determine which team will represent its side of the bracket in the best-of-three championship final that starts Saturday.
"I was happy I could contribute because we needed a run at the time," said Quentin, who has 12 homers this season. "I got the green light from coach on a 3-0 pitch. When you can contribute like that, it makes you feel good about yourself."
Hudgins turned in a second straight strong performance, allowing five hits but only one after the third inning in a complete game.
As good as Hudgins was, Marquess said Quentin's eighth-inning homer was a welcome sight.
"There is a huge difference between a one-run lead and two-run lead when you go into the ninth inning," Marquess said.
Quentin hit a two-run homer in the first inning to open the scoring for the Cardinal (49-16). By going 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Quentin raised his four-game CWS batting average to .500 (7-for-14).
Hudgins was pitching on four days' rest after giving up two hits in eight innings of Stanford's 8-0 win over South Carolina in its CWS opener last Friday.
Hudgins (13-3) issued two walks, hit three batters and struck out seven. Two of the three runs against him were earned.
"I'm proud of John for throwing a complete game against one of the best teams in the nation," Marquess said. "We were hoping for that, which is a lot to ask for in a game of this magnitude. He was masterful."
The key point in the game for Hudgins came in the third, after Shane Costa had given Fullerton (50-15) a 3-2 lead with a two-run double. The next batter, Kyle Boyer, drove a high fly ball down the left-field line that third-base umpire Joe Burleson ruled foul.
Boyer ended up grounding out, and Hudgins got out of the inning.
"That could have gone either way," Fullerton coach George Horton said. "It was a tough call for Burleson. It was hooking, and it was well foul when it landed. But it was tough to tell where the ball was when it went over the fence."
Hudgins was relieved when he saw the umpire wave his arms to signal foul.
"I threw a change-up on that pitch to Boyer, and I was hoping he got out in front of it enough that it wouldn't stay fair," Hudgins said. "From there, I just loosened up."
Hudgins, who threw 135 pitches, seemed to get stronger after the close call. After Costa's third-inning double, he didn't give up another hit until P.J. Pilittere's single in the ninth.
"I don't care what the pitch count was, nobody was going to be up in the bullpen," Marquess said. "We were going to win or lose it with John Hudgins."
Chris Carter scored the go-ahead run in the fifth on a wild pitch by Fullerton starter Wes Littleton (7-4).
Jed Lowrie and Carter singled leading off the inning. Brian Hall singled in Lowrie for the tying run, and then Littleton threw a pitch into the dirt past catcher Kurt Suzuki, allowing Carter to come home for a 4-3 lead.
Littleton got out of the inning when Jonny Ash grounded into a double play.
Stanford led 2-0 after Littleton's fourth pitch of the game. Ash singled to right, and then Quentin homered over the left-center field wall.
Littleton left after walking Lowrie to start the seventh. He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out two.
Costa said he's not concerned about the possibility of Stanford stealing momentum from the Titans for Thursday's bracket final.
"We must come out with confidence just like Stanford will," he said. "It's all about one game right now."