June 6, 2011
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FULLERTON, CA - Stanford designated hitter Ben Clowe homered twice and finished 4-for-4 with four runs driven in while three teammates also finished with three hits on the night, lifting the second-seeded Cardinal to a 14-2 victory over fourth-seeded Illinois and an NCAA Super Regional berth on a rainy Sunday night at Goodwin Field.
The Cardinal (35-20) advance to the Super Regional round for the first time since 2008 and will travel to Chapel Hill, NC to take on No. 3 national seed North Carolina in a best-of-three series next weekend for trip to Omaha and a berth in the College World Series. Like Stanford, the Tar Heels swept through their regional, posting wins over Maine and James Madison twice.
Illinois, which eliminated top-seeded Cal State Fullerton earlier in the day, ended its season at 30-27 overall.
Clowe was just one part of a huge offensive night for Stanford, which banged out 20 hits - eight of those going for extra bases, including five doubles and a trio of home runs - in support of starter Danny Sandbrink (4-1), who earned the win by allowing just two runs on eight hits while striking out six in seven innings. The Cardinal scored 25 runs on 40 hits in their three games over the weekend, batting .351 (40-for-114) as a team.
Lee Zerrusen (0-3), the first of six Fighting Illini pitchers on the night, suffered the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings.
Stephen Piscotty, Lonnie Kauppila, and Austin Wilson all finished with three hits for Stanford while Kauppila and Wilson also added three RBI in the win as the Cardinal scored at least one run in six of the nine innings on the night, including a pair of four-run frames in the third and seventh innings.
Davis Hendrickson and Pete Cappetta each finished with two hits on the night to lead Illinois.
Piscotty got Stanford out to the early lead with an RBI double to score Clowe in the first, but a four-run third inning that included Clowe's first home run of the night was the big blow that put Illinois in a 5-0 hole. The Fighting Illini closed the gap to 5-2 with single runs in the third and fourth innings thanks to RBI's from Justin Parr and Willie Argo, but the Cardinal offense closed strong, scoring nine unanswered runs over the next five innings en route to the victory.
ILLINOIS HEAD COACH DAN HARTLEB
Opening statement: "We had a great game against Cal State Fullerton. What a quality program that is. We got some big hits and made some big plays. I'm proud of how we performed. I thought our guys competed really hard against Stanford but we ran out of pitching and the game kind of got away from us. I'm proud of what we've done."
On Stanford: "Stanford did a good job. Their pitcher went out and took control of the game. They took good swings and were good enough and big enough to get the ball out of the park. Sometimes hitting is contagious and they did a good job."
On playing well in the regional: "I think this can do a lot for our program. We got a share of the Big Ten regular season title, did well in the conference tournament and then got a lot of television exposure by getting into the regional finals. We were one of the last 32 teams in the country. We can use this for recruiting and everyone can see what a competitive program we have."
SENIOR SECOND BASEMAN PETE CAPPETTA
On the season: "We were struggling through the middle of the year, but I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff and players sticking together. We kept battling and stayed together as a group."
SOPHOMORE OUTFIELDER DAVIS HENDRICKSON
On the team: "I feel so blessed to be part of this team. It was so much fun to play with these guys because you never felt like we were out of the game."
STANFORD HEAD COACH MARK MARQUESS
Opening Statement: "Very excited and proud of our team. I thought we came down and played very well, and had great pitching performances. Our seniors had great performances and they provided leadership throughout the year. It hasn't been easy with our schedule, we couldn't be more proud and we're playing our best baseball now. It's been a great three days for us."
On Homeruns by Ben Clowe: "It was a pretty good day. He had a long homer in Vanderbilt. He struggled second part of the season but really got into a groove the last part of the season and has picked us up offensively. Pretty good night."
On North Carolina: "We've played tough teams. They're tough at home. Vanderbilt, UCLA, Texas, Fullerton is tough at home. Indicative of how Illinois was playing, there's parity in college baseball. It's not like it was 15, 20 years ago. Some fans of certain programs expect it to be the same, but it's not going to be the same. It's great for our game and it's changed for the better. I really don't know a thing about North Carolina. We'll try some information. We'll try to be smart who could run, and things you could find out by looking at stats. It's actually been a difficult time with students taking finals during the week till Wednesday. It actually will be a relief when we play North Carolina because they'll be done with finals."
On pitching: "Our pitching coach has done a good job of developing them. Mark Appel was put in the meat grinder facing the best pitchers in the country and matured and got better and saw that on Friday night. Jordan Pries has struggled and yesterday was his best game since he won in Vanderbilt. Sandbrink really picked us up. He got us to the World Series as a freshman and won in Omaha and had some injuries. Our pitching staff has really come along. Because of our pitching staff, we haven't won seven, eight games in a row. Our pitchers have really developed and really pleased with Pries and Sandbrink our veteran players."
On Illinois and other teams in the regional: "That was a very impressive performance. In fairness to them, they ran out of pitching. This is a great tournament. Kansas State was a good team. I was worried about their left-handed hitters. Obviously Fullerton and the people running the tournament did a first class job. We're proud we were able to win it, it was a tough regional.
STANFORD DH BEN CLOWE
On seniors: "It's been a lot of fun. Coming in, we knew we had a lot of talent on our team, especially our underclassmen. Our seniors realized that, and thought how are we going to mold these guys and develop them and make sure they stay on the right page, and make sure they're getting better so that we could be where we are at this point, playing our best ball of the season."
On Homeruns: "I don't think I've hit two homeruns while I've been in college. It's nice as my career is winding down to go out on a high note."
On good hitting being contagious: "Absolutely. Both ways, bad hitting could also get contagious, like last night. When everyone's hitting like that, it's a good feeling for sure and a lot of confidence going through the dugout."
STANFORD RHP DANNY SANDBRINK
On keeping Illinois at bay after the fourth: "I actually felt sluggish at the beginning. I didn't have a good release and downward sink. After the fourth inning after talking to coach, I changed and became more aggressive, getting more extra movement."
On effect of following good pitching performances on Friday & Saturday: "I just try to focus on the game at hand and what I could control. When those guys go out and see how they pitch, it really pumps you up and inspires you to do the same thing."
2011 FULLERTON REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Catcher - Dan Klein, Kansas State
First Baseman - Nick Ramirez, Cal State Fullerton
Second Baseman - Lonnie Kauppila, Stanford
Shortstop - Josh Parr, Illinois
Third Baseman - Stephen Piscotty, Stanford
Outfielder - Davis Hendrickson, Illinois
Outfielder - Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Outfielder - Carlos Lopez, Cal State Fullerton
Designated Hitter- Ben Clowe, Stanford
Pitcher - Jordan Pries, Stanford
Pitcher - Noe Ramirez, Cal State Fullerton
Most Outstanding Player - Jordan Pries, Stanford