By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford was one out away from falling into oblivion among Pac-10 baseball teams. That out was never recorded.
Menlo School grad Kenny Diekroeger singled with the bases loaded to push across the winning run of an unlikely 5-4 victory over visiting UCLA in a conference contest Saturday before 2,280 fans. Even more surprising: the Cardinal scored all four runs after two were out and no one was on base.
"We were one out away from losing the series and this being a whole different story," Diekroeger said. "To go from that to winning the series against a very good UCLA team, no matter how we got it down, is huge for our momentum heading into California on Monday and into the series against Arizona State next weekend."
Stanford (5-7, 18-13) had been struggling offensively since losing its series at USC in early April. The Cardinal was hitting .240 over its past 10 games until freshman Brian Guymon, in his eighth start, collected his season-best third hit to start the winning rally.
"He got some life going," Stanford senior catcher Zach Jones said. "He's made the most of his opportunities and got the big hit."
Diekroeger, who made the last out of the eighth, thought he had made the last out of the ninth too for a few seconds.
"I'm in shock," he said. "I can't believe that thing dropped. I hit it straight in the air. I did notice the wind earlier in the at bat."
UCLA center fielder Beau Amaral had to respect Diekroeger's power and was playing back when the ball looped toward the right-center gap. The wind knocked it down and Amaral had no chance despite an all-out effort.
Diekroeger, who had two hits and is hitting .336 on the season, got the chance for heroics because of his teammates. After Guymon singled, pinch hitter Justin Ringo coaxed a walk. Jake Stewart followed with an RBI single just ahead of Jones' game-tying double, a sharp grounder down the right field line that somehow stayed fair.
"I was just trying to see a good pitch," said Jones, who was hitting .130 with no RBI as late as March 27. "I knew he didn't want to fall behind and he needed to throw fastballs. Luckily it found a hole."
Stanford won its first conference series since taking two of three from Washington State April 1-3. The Cardinal remains in seventh place, although the energy level significantly ratcheted upward.
"This can be a changing moment," said Jones, who ht a three-run homer against the Bruins on Thursday. "Things had been going bad for us lately. For us to squeeze out a win like this, it could turn us around."
Danny Sandbrink, making his first start in a weekend series, turned in 5 1/3 solid innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out five. Scott Snodgress kept the game close in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Guymon has hits in seven of his eight starts and is batting .391.
"We have been struggling with the bats but a lot has to do with facing the best pitching staff in college baseball," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "But there's no clock involved so you just never know."