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Stanford Opens NCAA Tournament with 10-3 Win Against Kansas State

The Stanford baseball team has become accustomed to playing--and winning--close games this season, especially of late. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal's previous eight games had been decided by a total of 13 runs, with Stanford winning five of those games. Thanks to a dominant pitching performance by Mark Appel and five Kansas State errors, there wasn't much cause for nail-biting in tonight's Fullerton Regional opener, as Stanford routed the Wildcats 10-3 to move into the winner's bracket.

Appel scattered six hits and struck out eight in the complete game win, which evened his record at 6-6 and left the Cardinal bullpen completely fresh for tomorrow's showdown with the winner of tonight's Fullerton-Illinois game. The game will be televised on ESPNU (and available online at ESPN3) at 8 p.m. 

Appel silenced Kansas State's bats by throwing a healthy dose of sliders and changeups to complement his fastball. "If you're throwing three pitches down in the zone, you're going to be successful," he said in ESPNU's postgame interview. Appel has now allowed four earned runs over his last 24.1 innings. 

"These guys have done a great job all year picking me up, and I've been doing my best to limit the runs so we can get some wins," Appel said. 

Stanford, which scored only six runs over Appel's previous three starts, jumped on Kansas State starter Kyle Hunter early, with one run in the second and two more in the third. Lonnie Kauppila went 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Brian Ragira and Kenny Diekroeger had two hits and two RBI apiece, while Stephen Piscotty went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. 

The Cardinal took a 3-1 lead into the fifth. After Appel struck out the side, Stanford added three more runs in the bottom half of the inning. Two unearned runs in the sixth extended the Cardinal lead to 8-1 and Appel did the rest.