Saturday, June 4, 1988
Clues came early that Saturday would be seventh-seeded Stanford's day in its 10-3 College World Series victory over second-seeded Fresno State.
Junior second baseman Frank Carey, owner of three career home runs, needed only a double to complete the cycle after three at-bats.
Stanford turned to a more conventional slugger in the seventh in junior third baseman Ed Sprague.
An off-balance Sprague, in the everything-is-going-right swing of things, homered off Erik Schullstrom for his 20th of the year.
"It was a pitch up and in,'' Sprague said. "It kind of screwed me into the ground.''
He righted himself and took a long look at the ball as it easily cleared the left-field fence, one of six Stanford extra-base hits in the game.
Sprague, the Toronto Blue Jays' firstround choice in the draft Wednesday, said CWS experience was the difference.
Stanford, 42-22, is playing in the CWS for the fifth time in the 1980s and is the defending champion. Fresno State, 56-11 and 2-0 against Stanford before Saturday, has not been in the CWS since 1959.
"That means everything,'' Sprague said. "We've got the experience, and we've won here. We were confident and we know what we're up against.''
Stanford Coach Mark Marquess said the fact that his team has played the other three teams, including Miami and Cal State Fullerton, in his CWS division is a plus even though it has a losing record against each.
"We know what to expect,'' he said.
The slugging of Carey and Sprague gave Stanford senior right-hander Lee Plemel enough runs to improve his record to 11-8.
Third baseman Mike Burton hit a two-run homer off Plemel after a two-out walk in the fourth to pull Fresno State within 3-2 after Carey had figured in three runs.
He tripled to open the first and scored on an infield out. In the third, he hit a 375-foot home run to right field. Tom Griffin, aboard on a double, scored ahead of Carey on the home run.
Carey said he never before had thought about hitting for the cycle. "I hardly ever have the home run,'' he said.
The blow off previously unbeaten junior right-hander John Salles was Carey's second homer of the year. He also hit one as a freshman two years ago.
Carey singled and eventually was thrown out at the plate in the three-run fifth. He also lined out in the sixth and took a called third strike in the eighth to finish 3 for 5.
Jerry Kindall, now the University of Arizona coach and then playing for Minnesota, is the only player in CWS history to hit for the cycle--a single, double, triple and home run. He accomplished it in 1956 against Mississippi.
Salles, after suffering his first loss in 16 decisions, said he was having trouble spotting his slider.
"It's not hard to hit a fastball if that's all you can get over,'' Salles said.
Marquess said that though Plemel's record is not overwhelming, he has been virtually unbeatable when working with a lead of three or four runs.
Stanford started to build that kind of edge when right fielder Paul Carey doubled to open the fourth and scored on two infield outs to widen the edge to 4-2.
Paul Carey provided an essential ingredient in the CWS championship last year by hitting a grand slam home run to lift Stanford to a 6-5 10-inning victory over Louisiana State.
In the fifth Saturday night came what Fresno State Coach Bob Bennett called "problems in right field,'' contributing to a three-run Stanford inning.
After Salles walked Paul Carey, loading the bases, Schullstrom relieved.
Catcher Doug Robbins hit a sacrifice fly, an important RBI, Bennett said.
"He fouled off some pitches and prolonged things,'' Bennett said.
With two runners still aboard, junior first baseman Ron Witmeyer lined a ball toward right rielder Steve Hosey.
"He opened right, but the ball didn't hook,'' Bennett said. The drive sailed by as Hosey appeared to lose it in the sun.
Bennett said those runs "opened it up'' for Stanford. The Cardinal added Sprague's home run in the the seventh and two runs with the help of two errors in the eighth.
Plemel, limited to one start in the Northeast Regional because of arm tenderness, said he was 100 percent Saturday.
"The fact that they had a lot of righthanded batters was a big plus,'' he said. "My strategy is fastball, curve, try to get the fastball in, setting up the curve outside.''
Marquess said he was pleased with the solid performance in all phases.
"But we haven't been consistent,'' he said. "We have played some games that you wouldn't believe it was the same club.''
The Cardinal has played its best baseball during a five-game winning streak that started after a first-game loss to St. John's in the regional.
"That's the time to lose, if you're going to lose, in the first game,'' he said. "Then get it together and come back. Winning the second game is more important than the first.''