Sunday, June 7, 1987
Stanford won the College World Series when a pitcher from Las Vegas dealt the Cardinal a winning hand.
Reliever Steve Chitren turned back an Oklahoma State rally by striking out the side in the eighth inning. He then put the finishing touches on the Cardinal's first national baseball championship as Stanford defeated the Cowboys 9-5 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
A crowd of 14,132, which pushed the tournament total to a record 130,659, watched Chitren work his magic against college baseball's most offensive bunch at Rosenblatt Stadium.
"Chitren was phenomenal," Stanford Coach Mark Marquess said, clutching the national championship trophy. "It was unbelievable."
Chitren entered Sunday's game after Stanford starter Jack McDowell had walked Monty Fariss and Adam Smith to open the eighth inning.
McDowell, the Cardinal ace and a first-team All-American, had struggled through the first seven innings while pitching on two days' rest.
McDowell handed Chitren a 6-4 lead to protect. And protect it Chitren did.
The sophomore right-hander struck out Benny Castillo and Brad Beanblossom for the first two outs. He hit Anthony Blackmon with a pitch to load the bases but blew away Oklahoma State's rally by striking out Ray Ortiz on three pitches.
"For Steve to come in in that situation and strike out three guys, that's it right there," said McDowell, who surrendered 12 hits and four walks but wound up a winner for the 13th time this season.
"That was the game."
Stanford gave Chitren a five-run cushion by scoring three times in the top of the ninth. Oklahoma State designated hitter Jim Ifland hit a solo homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth before Chitren got the final two outs to complete Stanford's most successful baseball season ever.
The Cardinal finished 53-17. Oklahoma State, denied in its bid to win its first CWS title since 1959, ended its season 59-13.
"It this is what death feels like, it's painful," Oklahoma State Coach Gary Ward said. "What place you finish doesn't matter because you didn't achieve your ultimate goal.
"We had enough opportunities to take control of the ballgame and didn't do it."
Stanford, which lost to Oklahoma State 6-2 Thursday, took control in the fifth inning by erasing a 3-2 Cowboy lead with four runs.
Oklahoma State had gained the lead on back-to-back homers by Castillo and Beanblossom with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.
"I thought inning five was the key," Ward said. "We get back-to-back homers and have a chance to take control. They come right back and put four runs on the board and went back in control."
Stanford, which did not hit a double in its first five CWS games, had three in the big fifth inning. Ruben Amaro opened the rally with a one-out walk and advanced to third on a double by Toi Cook, a .328 hitter this season who batted just .136 in Stanford's first five CWS games.
"The first half of the season, the first three guys in the lineup
Amaro, Cook and Ed Sprague carried us," said Stanford first baseman Ron Witmeyer. "They had some problems here, but they came around again tonight."
Amaro tied the game at 3-3 when he scored on Sprague's sacrifice fly. Cook advanced to third on the play and scored the go-ahead run when Oklahoma State starter Pat Hope threw a wild pitch.
Paul Carey, a freshman who won the tournament's most outstanding player award, doubled to left-center field and scored on a bloop double down the leftfield line by Witmeyer. Hope's second wild pitch of the inning moved Witmeyer to third, and he scored when David Esquer dumped a bunt single down the third-base line.
"That was a big inning," Witmeyer said. "It really picked us up."
McDowell, a junior right-hander selected by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of last week's professional draft, gave up a run in the bottom of the fifth. He left the Cowboys with runners at first and second in the sixth inning when he got Ortiz on a popup, then benefited from Stanford's fourth double play of the game to get out of the seventh after Robin Ventura had singled to lead off the inning.
"Double plays can kill the other team," said Witmeyer. Stanford turned four in Saturday night's 9-3 win over Texas, which moved the Cardinal into the championship game.
Stanford tied the record of 12 double plays in a series set in 1975 by Eastern Michigan.
McDowell, who had pitched on less than six days' rest just once this season, said he ran out of gas in the eighth.
"I was dead," he said. "I didn't have real good stuff all night. I was just trying to gut it out. I had to put so much in every pitch that I was having trouble with location tonight. After I walked those two guys in the eighth, I needed help. Steve Chitren picked me up big time."