Pill Helps Power Titans Over Illinois

June 3, 2011

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FULLERTON, CA - Cal State Fullerton junior Tyler Pill struck out 11 over eight innings of work and his two-run single in the sixth snapped a 4-4 tie, helping lift the top-seeded Titans to a 10-4 victory over No. 4-seeded Illinois on Friday night in game two of the 2011 NCAA Baseball Regional at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, CA.

The win moves Fullerton to 41-15 overall and advances the Titans to a winners bracket match-up with long-time nemesis Stanford, which defeated Kansas State by a 10-3 score earlier in the day, on Saturday night (June 4) at 8 p.m. PDT. The Fighting Illini fell to 28-26 overall and will meet the Wildcats in an elimination game on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. PDT.

Pill (7-1) battled through eight full, matching his career high in strikeouts, before giving way to Raymond Hernandez in the ninth, who walked the first batter he faced before a line-drive double play and a strikeout around a hit batter sealed the victory. Pill allowed four runs on five hits while walking three and hitting two batters.

Kevin Johnson (2-7), the first of four Illinois arms on the night, suffered the loss, allowing five earned on 10 hits, walking two and striking out one in 5 1/3 innings of work.

Back-to-back RBI hits by Carlos Lopez and Greg Velazquez gave Fullerton a 4-2 lead in the fifth, but the Fighting Illini battled back to tie the game in the sixth on a two-run single by Casey McMurray, scoring Adam Davis, who was hit by a pitch, and Brandon Hohl, who doubled to left field to put a pair in scoring position.

That set the stage for Pill's big hit in the bottom of the inning as Jared Deacon was hit by a pitch to lead-off the inning and moved up 90 feet on Ivory Thomas' single to left. After a sacrifice by Richy Pedroza moved both into scoring position, Pill looped the first pitch he saw into left field, scoring both for the 6-4 lead and chasing Johnson from the game.

The Titans, who scored all of their runs over the final five innings, added a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Velazquez and three more in the eighth on a bloop two-run double by Nick Ramirez and an RBI single by Austin Kingsolver.

After Pill struck out the side in order to start the game, Illinois was the first to get on the board in the second inning as McMurray doubled with one out and scored five pitches later when Matt Dittman connected for his seventh home run of the season, giving the Fighting Illini a 2-0 lead.

Fullerton rallied to tie the game with two outs in the fourth with a little help from the Illinois defense as Velazquez and Keegan Dale singled and both scored on Thomas' single to right that was misplayed by the fielder, tying the game at 2-2.

Velazquez finished 3-for-4 to lead a 13-hit Fullerton attack and was joined in the multi-hit club by Thomas (2-for-3), Pill (2-for-3), and Dale (2-for-5). Hohl and McMurray combined for four of the Fighting Illini's five hits on the night with two knocks apiece.

POSTGAME QUOTES
Cal State Fullerton Coach Dave Serrano
(Opening statement) "I thought it was a really good baseball game. I thought they (Illinois) battled. They've been a hot team and have won late in a lot of games. I'm proud of our guys, how we clawed back and kept fighting. Tonight was the night of the two-out rally and I thought the hit by pitch was a big factor too."

(On Michael Lorenzen's catch to save two runs) "That was a big play. We've talked all season long that defense wins championships. Those things kind of get brushed under the rug when you score 10 runs."

(On ability to come back) "We didn't win 40 games by always having the lead. We stepped up when we had to today. It funnels confidence through the dugout that we can do anything at any time. We'll have to continue to execute as long as we're wearing the uniforms.

(On Big West's 2-0 performance today) "You look around the country and not too many conferences are out there that can say they are undefeated after day one. UC Irvine won today and that's great for our conference. We got scrutinized this year because our RPI was down a bit, but go Big West."

Junior pitcher Tyler Pill
(On Lorenzen's running catch with CSF leading 6-4) "It was a very big part of the game. I was struggling a bit and my command wasn't all there. Michael catching that was a relief to have two outs instead of one with runners on first and second."

(On his 2-for-3 effort at the plate and hitting well on nights he pitches) "The importance of the game definitely made it that more special. When I'm on the mound, hitting is a secondary thing. It takes my mind off of it because I'm more focused on pitching.

Freshman outfielder Michael Lorenzen
(On his stellar catch) "I thought I was going to have to dive and get dirty to catch it. I just put my head down and took off and kind of lost the ball in the lights, but I was able to catch up to it."

Illinois Head Coach Dan Hartleb
(Opening Statement) "The game was simple. We got outplayed in every aspect. We got outhit. Defensively, we weren't sharp as we had been. Pill just did a great job against us. We struck out too many times. When you get outplayed in three aspects in this game, it's going to be a long night. We just need to bounce back and be a better team tomorrow."

(On running catch in the sixth by Cal State Fullerton outfielder Michael Lorenzen) "I thought that was a key play. We started the runners. Our player hit the ball pretty well, just hung up a little bit. If he gets on top of that ball a little more, it's probably a gapper, and you never know what happens. It was a key play throughout the game."

(On Fullerton's success on two-out hits) "Early, it was two outs nobody on, and I think they scored their first four runs that way. That hurts. And the other thing, they got their leadoff hitter on for five or six innings, and they put a lot of pressure on us. We didn't do a good job on the mound keeping the leadoff hitters off and between hit by pitch and base on balls, they scored five or six runs. You have to give credit to Fullerton, they did a great job. There were some things that we did poorly that contributed to the loss.

(On getting the lead and tying the game) "Our team always plays hard and responds to adversity. I thought we were on a good frame of mind. Most of the players had good composure and didn't let the game speed up. I didn't worry about the intensity we were going to have and the desire to win, and how we show up to the ballpark. I was pleased how we jumped out and responded once we got down."

Outfielder Casey McMurray
(On team's resiliency) "It was good for our team, to get back in the game. We could've had more momentum if that running catch in the sixth wasn't made, and could've jumped ahead. We thought we had a chance in the ballgame."

First Baseman Matt Dittman
(On his homerun giving the team confidence) "We felt confident. These past four weeks we felt we could beat anybody. I kind of took that approach. We played at LSU a few years back, we played at Coastal Carolina last year. Just because we're a Big 10 school, doesn't mean we don't play these bigger schools. We know we could beat these teams. I'm just glad I was able to contribute to get us going."