June 13, 2003 - June 23, 2003 • Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Nebraska • Attendance: 260,091
Rice completed a 12-year journey from baseball doormat to champion by walking all over Stanford to win the College World Series.
No team in the history of the CWS had ever posted a larger margin of victory in the final game than Rice did in mauling the Cardinal 14-2 before 18,494 at Rosenblatt Stadium. The lopsided victory in the third game of the best-of-three championship series left the Owls 58-12 and a national champion in any sport for the first time in school history.
For 67-year-old coach Wayne Graham, the title provides an exclamation point to his statement that Rice was capable of winning a national championship. Rice? When Graham arrived, the school had never played in the NCAA tournament nor won a conference championship.
Graham's kids put on an impressive show in turning what had the potential to be an exciting matchup into the biggest title game mismatch in CWS history. The teams had split the first two games of the championship series, with Rice pulling out a 4-3 win in 10 innings on Saturday and Stanford coming back Sunday, behind the extraordinary pitching of CWS outstanding player John Hudgins, to win 8-3.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Hudgins wasn't available the next day to stop a Stanford meltdown on the mound. Starter Mark Romanczuk lasted just one inning, allowing Rice to break to a 4-0 lead. Five relievers contributed to the demise as the six Cardinal pitchers gave up 14 hits, walked 12 and hit one.
Ryan Garko, Stanford, c, Sr.
Curtis Thigpen, Texas, 1b, So.
Enrique Cruz, Rice, 2b, Jr.
Jonny Ash, Stanford, 3b, Jr.
Justin Turner, Cal State Fullerton, ss, Fr.
Carlos Quentin, Stanford, of, Jr.
Danny Putnam, Stanford, of, So.
Chris Kolkhorst, Rice, of, Jr.
P.J. Pilittere, Cal State Fullerton, dh, Jr.
John Hudgins, Stanford, p, Jr.
Jeff Niemann, Rice, p, So.