By TOM STAD
June 15, 2008
Imagine a world where black is white, up is actually down, left is right and so on. Everyone at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha must have felt that way yesterday after the first two games of the College World Series. In the opener, unseeded Stanford broke open a tie game in the ninth to beat No. 4 seeded Florida State 16-5. In the nightcap No. 8 Georgia came roaring back to upset top-ranked Miami 7-4.
Game 1 - Stanford 16, No. 4 Florida State 5
Stanford starter Jeremy Bleich and FSU’s Matt Fairel went toe-to-toe for five innings with Fairel surrendering the only run, a two-out RBI double by Cardinal DH Randy Molina in the fourth. Both pitchers ran into trouble in the sixth, however. In the top half of the frame, Stanford sophomore Toby Gerhart led off with a solo home run, and two outs later centerfielder Sean Ratliff chased Fairel from the game with an RBI single to left, extending the Cardinal lead to 3-0. Florida State’s bats finally woke up in the bottom half of the frame on a Dennis Guinn blast over the fence in right, which sent Bleich to the showers, and a Tommy Oravetz RBI single to right that cut the lead to 3-2. Stanford got those two runs right back in the seventh on a double, walk, hit batsman and an error followed by a run scoring ground out, and that’s where the score stayed until the bottom of the eighth when the fireworks started. Stanford freshman Drew Storen, pitching his second inning of relief, retired the first two Seminoles and then ran into some trouble. Oravetz and center fielder Tyler Holt laced back-to-back singles before second baseman Jason Stidham roped a 3-2 fastball over the right field fence to tie the game at five and give FSU new life. That’s when the wheels came off for Florida State as Cardinal hitters battered Seminoles pitching for a CWS record-tying 11 runs in the ninth to upset FSU 16-5. Florida State now faces Miami in an elimination game today at 2 p.m., while Stanford moves into the winners’ bracket to battle Georgia tonight at 7 p.m.
Game 2 - No. 8 Georgia 7, No. 1 Miami 4
Late-inning heroics seemed to be the theme of the day in Omaha as Georgia, trailing 4-3 heading into the ninth, came from behind to topple the top-ranked Hurricanes 7-4. Second baseman Jemile Weeks got Miami (52-10) on the board first with a solo shot to right center in the first. Bulldog leadoff man Ryan Piesel tied the score with an RBI single in the third before UM centerfielder Blake Tekotte hit a two-run blast in the bottom half of the inning to give the ‘Canes the lead back at 3-1. It stayed that way until Georgia tied it once again in the top of the sixth when Piesel played the role of hero once again, hitting his 11th home run of the season with a man on to knot the score at three. All-American first baseman Yonder Alonso came to the plate in the home half of the seventh with two outs and deposited an offering from Georgia reliever Alex McRee into the bleachers to give Miami a 4-3 lead. Hurricanes closer Carlos Gutierrez entered the game in the ninth with the lead, a situation in which Miami was 45-0 during the year. But the junior reliever couldn’t close the door as the Bulldogs rallied for four runs on three hits and an error, plating all those runs with two outs. Closer of the Year Joshua Fields, who came on to get the final out of the eighth for Georgia, had much less trouble shutting the door, retiring the Hurricanes in order in the ninth and giving the SEC its first victory in a CWS game in seven tries since 2005. The Bulldogs move on to face Stanford tonight while Miami will face ACC rival Florida State in the series’ first elimination game this afternoon.