CWS, Day5: Miami couldn't see the forest for the Trees

This was a rude way to end a great season. Miami had it all in '08; a boatload of talent, a No. 1 ranking, a diverse team with few holes and a murderous batting order. Tonight the Stanford Trees cut them down hard with a stunning 8-3 win.

CWS-RatliffHR.jpg
(Sean Ratliff, left, gets a hero's welcome at home plate after his crushing home run dimmed Miami's hopes)

It's not too stunning that the Cardinal won the game, they're obviously a good team. But it's how they did it. I'm not sure anyone expected a rather comfortable win like this.

Conditions at game time:
82 degrees, 47% humidity, winds from the Northwest at 3mph.
An hour or so later it was 75 degrees with a light drizzle and winds out of the Southeast at 8mph.

Miami U. - 100 000 110 - 3 9 2
Stanford - 002 141 00x- 8 11 0

WP: Erik Davis (8-3)
LP: Enrique Garcia (7-3)
Save: none

Top Hitters:
Miami-
Blake Tekotte: 1-for-3, 2BBs.
Yonder Alonso: 2-for-5, 2B
Yasmani Grandal: 1-for-4, RBI, HR

SU-
Cord Phelps: 3-for-5, 2RBI
Sean Ratliff: 1-for-3, 2RBI, HR, 2BBs

Key stat: 21.

Stanford gave up two hits in the first two at-bats of the game to Blake Tekotte and Jemile Weeks, but after that, it would be 21 consecutive batters before the powerful Hurricane offense would muster another hit. And even that hit was nullified by an inning-ending double play.

By the time the U got another meaningful hit (a 7th inning home run from Yasmani Grandal), Stanford had built up a hearty 8-1 lead. Except for a few hairy moments in the 8th where Erik Davis loaded the bases with three pitches, but ended up giving up only one run, the Cardinal cruised.

CWS08-ErikDavis.jpg
(The bespectacled Erik Davis returned to form by going four innings, striking out four and getting the win tonight)

The biggest blows came in the 5th inning after Stanford had built up a 3-1 lead. A two-run crusher to right by Sean Ratliff was followed by a two-run triple from the bat of Cord Phelps, that just eluded the glove of a diving Blake Tekotte in center field. With the help of that four-run inning, Stanford moves on to face Georgia, needing a pair of wins over the Dogs to advance to the title round.

Cord Phelps got things started from the top of the lineup getting a single, double and triple with two RBI to set the table.

CWS08-TekotteDive.jpg
(Miami CF - and all-around good guy - Blake Tekotte narrowly missed this laser shot to center field by Cord Phelps. Stanford scored two runs on the play.)

Miami countered with a lot of unfamiliar arms, trotting out Anthony Nalepa (18.1 innings pitched), Iden Nazario (10.2 innings) and Rene Guerra (7.2 innings), all of whom hadn't pitched in the last three weeks of NCAA tournament play. Either way, it didn't appear that super-arms Kyle Bellamy or Chris Gutierrez were going to throw tonight.

And Miami could've used them too. Then again, you could also argue that their bats could've shown up better as well.

CWS08-SUplay@plate.jpg
(Joey August slides into home to put the Cardinal up for good in the 3rd inning of tonight's game)


.
NOTES---

- 267.
When Miami loaded the bases on three straight singles in the 8th inning and got worked into a fly out to right field, that made for the 267th bases-loaded situation. in the CWS since the last time there was a grand slam. That feat was accomplished by Georgias

- Speaking of streaks, Jerry Kindall's streak continues.
The former Minnesota Gopher (and Arizona head coach) was the last player to hit for the cycle in the College World Series. That was in 1956. Tonight, Cord Phelps had a chance to do that as he went single, double, strikeout and triple in his first four at-bats. But his last at-bat in the 8th saw him meekly fly out to right field.

- You sure you wanna say that?
I usually give Stanford the label of having the best fans, as far as being knowledgeable, courteous and well-mannered. But today the SU section chanted "over-rated" every time Yonder Alonso struck out, which was in his first three at-bats. Besides, don't they know Yonder could've just as easily broken their hearts with a wicked-huge home run tonight?

- Birthday wishes.
Just a day after Paul Mainieri gave his wife a win over Rice for her birthday present (Yes, he admitted that he didn't get her a gift), we hear the same thing from Stanford coach Mark Marquess. "Well this was obviously a huge win for us and especially because it was my wife's birthday today and I didn't get her a gift, so I'm in trouble. Susan, this is your gift. I'll be sure to get something later. It's also Jeremy Bleich's birthday, so it was a good birthday gift as far as getting a win."

- Jim Morris on his team's play vs. Stanford today.
"They out-played us tonight in every phase of the game. We left too many men on base, especially late in the game. But this club has been an explosive club, so you never want to give up on them. You just think they're gonna get it going. But we haven't been swinging the bats like we were before. In the middle of the season I thought we could beat anybody out there."

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert