Kiilsgaard, Clutch Pitching Lead Stanford to 6-5, 12-Inning Win at California

March 22, 2009

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BERKELEY, Calif. - In a wild game that featured one starter flirting with a no-hit bid and both clubs staging last at-bat rallies from a one-run deficit, Stanford (4-9, 1-1 Pac-10) rode the bat of Kellen Kiilsgaard and some outstanding relief pitching to a thrilling 6-5, 12-inning victory over host California (11-8, 1-1) this afternoon at Evans Diamond.

Kiilsgaard, a sophomore outfielder who has surged into a starting role in 2009, had the best day of his young career to lift the Cardinal to its first Pac-10 win. With Stanford trailing 4-3 in the ninth, Kiilsgaard led off the top of the inning with an opposite-field home run to tie the game 4-4, then hammered a mammoth solo shot leading off the 11th that gave the Cardinal a 5-4 lead and, with the game tied again, drew a two-out, bases loaded walk in the 12th to push Stanford ahead for good at 6-5. Kiilsgaard also delivered a two-out, RBI-double in the fifth that gave Stanford a 2-0 lead. All told, he reached base safely six times during his first collegiate multi-homer game, going 3-for-4 with three walks and four RBI to set a career high in each category.

Stanford's win would not have been possible, however, without some outstanding relief pitching from a pair of sophomores and a freshman. Michael Marshall entered to start the seventh with the Cardinal trailing 4-3, and proceeded to retire the first nine batters he faced en route to a career-high 4.0-inning outing. The right-hander also established a career high with five strikeouts, including one of California leadoff batter Brett Jackson that started an inning-ending double play to close the 10th (with catcher Zach Jones throwing out Marcus Semien attempting to steal second).

When Marshall surrendered a pair of singles to start the bottom of the 11th, Carey Schwartz entered and pitched his way to his first career win. Schwartz entered with runners at the corners and nobody out, Stanford clinging to a 5-4 lead and California cleanup hitter Mark Canha at the plate. Although Schwartz (1-0) surrendered a sacrifice fly that tied the game and walked the next hitter, he retired the dangerous Jeff Kobernus on a foul pop and struck out Dylan Tonneson to keep the game tied.

After Stanford went ahead 6-5 in the top of the 12th, the Bears immediately got the tying run into scoring position thanks to a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt. At that time, it was freshman Scott Snodgress' turn to provide some pitching heroics. The rookie left-hander got Jackson to fly out and, after issuing a walk, induced a groundout from All-America candidate Blake Smith to end the game for his first collegiate save.

Stanford's winning, 12th-inning rally was forged without a hit. Jake Schlander walked with one out, and was sacrificed to second by Adam Gaylord. Colin Walsh was intentionally walked, a move that would backfire when Jones also worked a walk to load the bases. California brought left-hander Chris Petrini out of the bullpen to face Kiilsgaard, but the Stanford right fielder calmly coaxed a walk on a full-count pitch to force in the winning run.

Nearly lost in the late-game drama was the excellent pitching of Stanford starter Jordan Pries. Two weeks after defeating No. 2 Texas in his first collegiate start, the freshman right-hander was nearly as good in his first Pac-10 outing. Pries was in complete command early on, and took a no-hitter and a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning.

Pries' no-hit bid ended with the first batter of the sixth, as Semien led off the frame with a solo home run. When Pries hit two of the next three batters, closer Drew Storen was brought in with one out to face Canha. However, the Golden Bears' cleanup hitter took advantage of a pitcher making his first appearance in two weeks and connected on a three-run homer that gave California a 4-3 lead - and advantage that would stand until Kiilsgaard's tying homer in the ninth.

Stanford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Joey August and Toby Gerhart, who each had a pair of hits, singled with one out. The pair advanced on a successful double-steal, and August scored on a wild pitch. The Cardinal increased its lead to 3-0 in the sixth on a strange sequence. With August at second and Ben Clowe (who went 2-for-2) at first and two out, Gaylord drew a walk. With the runners subsequently moving up, Tonneson (the California catcher) apparently thought the pitch was not ball four and uncorked a throw to third that sailed into left field, allowing August to score.

With today's win, Stanford is now 2-0 this season in extra-inning games. The Cardinal defeated visiting Vanderbilt 6-5 in 10 innings on Opening Night.

Stanford and California will meet Monday afternoon in Berkeley in the rubber game of this three-game series. First pitch from Evans Diamond is set for 2:30 p.m. PT.

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