Stanford leads Sweets on all-WCL teams

Alex Stanford earns West Coast League Most Valuable Player after his stellar season.

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WALLA WALLA - Alex Stanford, the West Coast League's Most Valuable Player, leads six Walla Walla Sweets on the all-WCL teams for the 2011 season.

Stanford is a first-team selection, while WCL honors were also bestowed upon second-team selections Andrew Mendenhall and Tim Culligan, and honorable mention honorees Ryan Richardson, Elliot Stewart and Brett Watson.

Stanford, a senior at Gonzaga University, led the Sweets in batting average (.340), games played (48), at bats (194), runs scored (25), hits (66), sacrifices (6) and stolen bases (15). He led the entire WCL in hits, setting a new league record in the process, and was second in batting average. The second basemen, hitting primarily in the leadoff spot for the Sweets, was sixth in stolen bases and 16th in runs scored. He hit .444 for the Sweets in the WCL playoffs with four runs scored and an RBI.

"Alex had great numbers this season, but he was much more than just a set of statistics," said Sweets manager J.C. Biagi. "His ability to make clutch plays and come up with big hits for us, especially down the home stretch of the season, was off the charts."

Stanford's most memorable moment of the season came against the Cowlitz Black Bears on Aug. 7. After the Sweets scored in the ninth inning to tie the game, Stanford hit a solo home run in the top of the 10th inning to propel Walla Walla to the win and put them on the brink of clinching their first WCL playoff berth.

The Sweets swept Wenatchee in the WCL Eastern Division playoffs, and then lost in the WCL championship series to the Corvallis Knights.

Mendenhall, a junior at Oregon, led the Sweets in doubles (14), was second on the team in batting average (.280), hits (49), at bats (175), third in stolen bases (5) and fifth in games played (42).

Culligan, a senior at Nevada-Reno, was a stalwart on the mound all year for the Sweets. He went 4-3 with a 2.22 ERA. Culligan led the Sweets in games started with eight, innings pitched (56.2), strikeouts (38), wins.

The right-hander pitched one game for the Sweets in the playoffs, defeating Wenatchee's Owen Jones, the WCL Pitcher of the Year, in the second game of the East Division championship series.

Richardson, a senior at Campbellsville and second-year Sweet, and Watson completed what could have been the best starting threesome in the WCL.

Richardson went 3-3 while boasting the league's lowest ERA at 1.53.

Watson, a sophomore at Walla Walla Community College, put up equally impressive numbers, going 3-2 with a 1.63 ERA for the Sweets.

Stewart hit five home runs (second in the WCL) to follow up his 2010 second-team all-WCL campaign, and drove in 15 runs while scoring 16. The Cal Poly senior was also walked by opposing pitchers 17 times.

The six Sweets were selected to the WCL All-Star game earlier this summer.

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