It was going to be a tough task for the No. 21st-ranked Stanford baseball team to earn a series win against No. 7 — and host — North Carolina.
Burbank High graduate Lonnie Kauppila, a freshman second baseman for the Cardinal, was looking to help the team advance to the College World Series.
Kauppila, a former two-time All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, recently helped Stanford sweep through the Cal State Fullerton Regional and advance to the Super Regional for the eighth time in the program’s history.
However, after having their rally extinguished by the rain on Saturday, Kauppila and the Cardinal saw their season and shot at the College World Series end Sunday with a 7-5 loss to North Carolina on the second day of Super Regional action at Chapel Hill.
Stanford dropped to 35-21, while North Carolina improved to 49-14.
Stanford (35-22), which suffered its first loss in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament to the Tar Heels on Friday, scratched out a one-run lead in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday, but fell behind, 3-1, in the fourth and trailed, 6-1, going into the bottom of the eighth.
There the Cardinal put up four runs, capped by a three-run double by Austin Wilson, before a three hour and 32 minute rain delay put a damper on the comeback. Once play resumed, Stanford surrendered an insurance run to UNC in the top of the ninth before being retired in order in the bottom half.
Kauppila played second base and went one for four with a run scored, his only hit in seven at bats in the Super Regional.
Unfortunately for the unseeded Cardinal, it suffered its first playoff loss Friday. Kauppila went hitless in three at-bats and had a sacrifice bunt in Stanford’s 5-2 loss to North Carolina in an opening-round game of the double-elimination tournament.
Kauppila struck out in the second inning before flying out to center in the fifth. He had a sacrifice in the seventh before flying out to center in the eighth.
The former Bulldog, who began his high school baseball career at Crescenta Valley before transferring to Burbank as a junior, was coming off a more successful showing at the Cal State Fullerton Regional. Kauppila closed out the two-game tournament, which included wins over Fullerton and Illinois, with a three-hit, three-run-batted-in game in the Cardinal’s 14-2 win over the Illini.
On the season, Kauppila batted .298 with a home run, 25 runs batted in, 24 runs scored and 10 doubles.