Kiilsgaard Provides the Fatal Blow in Extra Innings as Cal Falls to Stanford
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Category: Sports > Spring > Baseball
For a while, the storyline of the Cal baseball team's Sunday afternoon game against Stanford appeared to be Cardinal starter Jordan Pries' no-hitter through the first five innings.
But when Marcus Semien and Mark Canha homered in the sixth to give the Bears a 4-3 lead, it looked like a whole different ballgame.
Unfortunately for Cal, there was one more mutation of the game left: The late-inning heroics of Stanford right fielder Kellen Kiilsgaard.
On an extraordinarily blustery day at Evans Diamond, the Bears watched as Kiilsgaard took two balls out of the park -- one that tied the game, 4-4, in the ninth to send the game into extra innings and then another in the 11th to extend the game for the Cardinal. And with the bases loaded in the top of the 12th, it was Kiilsgaard who worked a walk -- the fourth of the inning -- from Chris Petrini to plate the winning run for Stanford and hand the Cardinal a 6-5 victory.
"We didn't do enough to make them earn the game," coach David Esquer said. "The game would have been easier for us if they walked us four times in the 10th. If they'd have done that for us, we would have been as happy as they are now."
Cal (11-8, 1-1 in the Pac-10) started the day on its heels, as Pries' combination of fastballs and breaking pitches baffled the Bears' hitters. The true freshman surrendered just two walks through five innings, pounding the inside part of the plate for five strikeouts and forcing many more popups as the Bears struggled to stave off Pries' inside offerings.
"He sure had me off balance, and that's something I don't like to admit ever as a player," center fielder Brett Jackson said. "But he had me off balance, and it looks like he had most of the team off balance."
Cal's comeback effort behind Semien and Canha put the Bears in front, 4-3, but Kiilsgaard proved the kiss of death for Cal as he capitalized on the Bears' shaky pitching late with his two home runs and three walks. Cal's five pitchers gave up a combined 11 walks and 10 hits, while the defense behind them committed two errors.
By the end of the game, even nature was in favor of Stanford (4-9, 1-1) as the wind provided a significant assist to Kiilsgaard's long ball efforts.
"There were a couple of balls that shouldn't have gone out and a couple that deserved to," Jackson said. "There was the heartbreaking home run in the ninth that put (Stanford) back in the game, and I think that's a routine fly ball on a regular day."
The Bears' last gasp came in the bottom of the 11th, when Canha hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Brian Guinn and tie the game 5-5.
But Kiilsgaard's bases-loaded walk in the 12th sealed the victory for the Cardinal, and Cal went quietly in the bottom of the 12th to end the four-hour game.
"We need to learn from this and see how they just grinded it out," Semien said. "We need to win this series. We haven't won a series at home all year so we need this."
Contact Katie Dowd at [email protected]
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