Eric Olson The Associated Press
Omaha, neb. – Cole Foster’s three-stroke double in the sixth game gave Auburn the lead, and the Tigers beat No. 2 national seed Stanford 6-2 in a College World Series elimination match to claim their first win in Omaha in 25 years. Monday.
Tuesday’s Tigers (44-21) will play the Loser in the Monday night game between Arkansas and Mississippi.
Stanford (47-18) wrapped up a disappointing short stay in Omaha. The Cardinal lost his opening game to Arkansas 17-2 – the most lopsided game here in 34 years – and then did nothing after taking an early lead against Auburn.
Stanford, who has escaped elimination five times in his regional and world championships, won 0-2 at the CWS for the first time in 18 games.
Trace Bright (5-4) went five runs to win and Blake Burkhalter, Tiger’s closest star, fired six of his eight hits in his 16th block.
Auburn has been 0-3 at the CWS since beating Rice 10-1 in 1997.
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“It’s important to us as we continue to try to build our program and build a brand of respect and honesty,” said Tigers coach Butch Thompson. “So it’s a big deal and it gives us a chance to compete again.”
The Tigers, who lost 5-1 to Mississippi on Saturday, managed one inning and seven strokes in 14 runs before coming out in the sixth against the Cardinal.
Foster, who has doubled, returned to the squad after leaving in the middle of Saturday’s game due to illness and dehydration. Thompson said seven or eight of his players had a stomach virus and that Foster was given intravenous fluids after the game.
“He’s doing everything he can,” Thompson said. “He barely got in second and he dropped his head – one of the biggest hits of his life trying to keep his head up. He just did a great job.”
Stanford player Drew Dodd, who struggled to drive fastball in his last appearance, was called into the first four rounds. But he abandoned Brooks Carlson’s double, moving up to fifth and marching on Foster across four courts to overturn Quinn Matthews (9-2).
Matthews knocked out Stanford in the first inning but ran into trouble in the sixth inning, dropping two, hitting the hitter and firing a walk before Foster doubled in clearing Foster’s bases from the left-center wall in a Tigers position with a 4-2 lead. Auburn added two more for seventh.
“When Cole hit the ball, it was a huge attacking snort,” Thompson said.
Stanford got a chance to break into seventh when he held the bases by two against Tommy Sheehan. That’s when Auburn called up Burkhalter, and he went to a full count against Brett Parreira before puffing a fast ball into his own net for a first-half final blow.
“When the time passes, no one will remember the result of any of our games or what our record was here in Omaha,” Cardinal coach David Esker said. “I think what I will remember is that I had the opportunity to go to the College World Series with a team that I love and spend about a week trying to play for the National Championship.”
The best of the West
The top three teams in the Pac-12 standings were eliminated by Auburn in the NCAA Championship. The Tigers have previously beaten UCLA and Oregon State in the Super Regionals.
“Obviously all the Pac-12 teams we’ve played, I respect them,” said midfielder Casson Howell. “They have really good players. But being from the Southeast Conference, and we have four teams from the Western Division here, we just want to play baseball well and try to represent our conference well.”
We can do that too
Of the past 40 National Champions, only Southern California in 1998, Oregon in 2006 and 18, and South Carolina in 2010 have returned from losing their first game to win the CWS title.
The Tigers will have to win three more matches to reach the top three finals. Thompson said he spoke Sunday night with former coaches Pat Casey of Oregon and Ray Tanner of South Carolina.
“These two guys came back and both gave me paragraphs about taking me on the trip with their team,” Thompson said. “As I say, the man or the woman or the team that will never quit, they have a chance. And I just want us to fight and I want to attack. I’m just looking for every inch we can get for our program.”