Mark Appel led the Stanford Cardinal to a 9-1 victory over Fresno State in the first round of the College World Series regionals Friday night. Stanford, the host, was blessed with 11 strikeouts in a complete-game gem from their ace, while the lineup peppered Fresno State ace Justin Haley and forced an early exit.
Appel’s velocity was more 94-95 than some of the gaudier numbers he’s shown this year. He walked two batters but also threw a wild pitch and wasn’t always where he wanted to be. His slider was up a little in the zone, and some changeups were too. On the other hand, Fresno State couldn’t catch up to his fastballs for the most part, his last strikeout came on a changeup, and the slider did get Appel some timely ground balls late in the game, when Fresno State had runners on and were threatening to tighten the score.
The game was scoreless into the fifth inning, but the Cardinal strung together singles, doubles, and a couple bunts to push it to 5-1 after six. Then they broke the game open when the bottom of the lineup came through in the eighth with four runs against a wild Garret Mundel. Kenny Diekroeger cleared the bases with double and an error, and the hit was the second of the game for the slumping shortstop. If older brother gets going, the Stanford lineup is strong from top to bottom — three innings with multiple runs could function as a preview.
Stanford advances to the winner’s bracket, meaning they get Pepperdine in the six pm game Saturday night in Palo Alto. It’s likely to be lefty Brett Mooneyham for Stanford, who lost the 2011 season to hand surgery. His control is inconsistent — perhaps because of that lost development time — but if he’s on, number-one seed Stanford will be tough to beat.
Here’s the postgame presser.