Chalk one up
for the non-BCS schools
From staff and wire reports
When the Bowl Championship Series hijacked the
gridiron gold and and silver and secreted the treasures away from the
citizenry, the cartel forgot to protect the diamonds.
As in baseball diamonds.
At a time when the wealthy conferences that control major
college football are jealously hoarding and in some cases fighting in
court to preserve or increase their fabulous riches and power, the Rice
Owls made a resounding statement for the disadvantaged.
Rice, a member of the non-BCS Western Athletic Conference, won its first national
title in any sport Monday evening with a 14-2 College World Series rout of
Stanford of the PAC-10.
It was a win so complete some might call it poetic justice,
considering that Stanford's league, the PAC-10, is a member of the BCS
football syndicate that gerrymanders its so-called national championship scheme to its own
The PAC-10's fellow conspirators in the organization are the Big 12, the Big
10, the SEC, the ACC and for the time being the Big East, all of which
were vanquished from the baseball playoffs before the CWS's climactic
In a sign of the revolutionary outcomes that would be
possible in the pigskin sport if the crowning of college football's king is
eventually conducted in a
format as open as that which plays out in Omaha, Nebraska, each June, Rice
pounded the rawhide and humiliated the Cardinal.
The Owls scored three runs in the first inning, then added a
record-tying seven in the sixth to pull off the most lopsided victory in CWS
history in front of 18,494 Rosenblatt Stadium fans and an ESPN television
"There are a lot of passionate people around Rice and they wanted this and
needed it," said 67-year-old coach Wayne Graham, who won five junior college
national championships and completed his 12th season at Rice.
It was Rice's fourth appearance in the College World Series, and the Owls
had won just one of seven CWS games before this year.
"It means something to Houston," Graham said. "They're proud of the academic
tradition of Rice. This was merely a quest to maintain honor and to do
things the right way, which has always been so important at Rice. Giving
them an athletic championship means a lot."
Philip Humber pitched a complete-game five-hitter, Enrique Cruz drove in
four runs and Paul Janish knocked in three as Rice (58-12) battered Stanford
(51-18) pitching for 14 hits.
"Everyone played his best game, and Phil did a good job," Graham said. "We
were fortunate to have better-rested pitching."
Stanford (51-18), which overcame a second-round CWS loss to reach the final
series and then forced a third game against Rice, lost in the championship
game for the third time in four years.
In their last title game appearance, the Cardinal lost 12-1 to Miami in
2001. That loss tied the previous record for largest margin of deficit in
the CWS championship.
"We haven't made much of a game of it the last two times," Stanford coach
Mark Marquess said.
Freshman left-hander Mark Romanczuk gave up the three runs in the first
inning. Five innings and five pitchers later, the Owls led 11-0.
Humber (11-3) retired the first seven batters he faced before Brian Hall
doubled in the third. He then set down 10 of the next 12 before Ryan Garko
doubled in the seventh and later scored to end the shutout bid.
Humber walked two and struck out four in the first championship game
complete game since Brett Laxton of LSU beat Wichita State in 1993.
Humber, the Owls' No. 3 pitcher, worked largely in the shadows of Jeff
Niemann and Wade Townsend most of the postseason. He lasted just 3 2/3
innings in Rice's 5-4 win over Texas last Wednesday.
"I went into my last start thinking about what bad could happen," Humber
said. "This time, I just focused on the game and getting the ball over the
Rice catcher Justin Ruchti said he wouldn't have predicted such a strong
performance by Humber.
"I thought when we were down in the bullpen, his curve might be a problem,''
Ruchti said. "He kept putting it in the dirt. I don't know what changed. The
key to the win was his split-fingered fastball. We got a lot of weak
grounders and lazy flies off that."
While Humber hummed along, Romanczuk (12-2) struggled from the start. He
threw 46 pitches and walked five as Rice sent nine men to the plate in the
Romanczuk gave way to Matt Manship in the bottom of the second after walking
Chris Kolkhorst to start the inning.
"If you can't throw strikes, you can't win games," said Romanczuk, who threw
only 19 of his 50 pitches for strikes.
In the first, a walk to Kolkhorst, Craig Stansberry's single and a walk to
Vincent Sinisi loaded the bases. Then Romanczuk walked Cruz to force in a
run, struck out Janish and got Austin Davis to pop out.
But two more runs scored when Romanczuk walked Jeff Blackinton and Dane
The Owls added a run in the second after Kolkhorst walked and Stansberry
beat out a bunt. Janish drove in Kolkhorst with a fielder's choice grounder.
"We knew we wanted to score some runs early for Philip," first baseman
Vincent Sinisi said. "It seems like whenever he pitched, we'd get one run
for him and then shut it down. We expected to score for him early."
The Owls, who had six hits and two walks against four pitchers in the sixth,
tied a championship game record with their seven-run inning. It was the
biggest outburst since Southern California had a seven-run inning while
beating Missouri 8-7 in 1958.
Kolkhorst, who doubled twice in the inning, drove in two runs with his
second one. Janish also had a two-run double, and Cruz hit a two-run single.
Bubela drove in another run with his base hit.
"We were intense the whole game and never let up," Janish said.
Stanford's Sam Fuld set the CWS record for career hits with 24. His
RBI-single in the eighth broke a tie with Keith Moreland, who had 23 hits
for Texas from 1973-75.
The Cardinal's John Hudgins, who tied a College World Series record with
three wins, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He is the
16th player to win it from the losing team, and first since Florida State's
Marshall McDougall in 1999.
Bonesville.net. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
02/23/2007 10:44:56 AM