Stanford has reached its weekend of no return as far as postseason baseball is concerned.
After dropping a 10-8 nonconference decision to visiting San Jose State on Tuesday night, the Cardinal has no room for error when Washington State visits Sunken Diamond to open a three-game Pac-12 series Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be followed by the annual fireworks show.
Stanford (11-13 in the Pac-12, 24-22 overall) needs to overtake the Cougars (12-12, 22-25) in the conference standings for any legitimate chance of securing a berth in the NCAA tournament.
With USC taking the weekend off, the Cardinal could move into a fifth-place tie with the Trojans should it sweep Washington State, giving the NCAA selection committee a better impression.
Stanford has yet to sweep a conference team yet this season, though it has won four series, including each of the past two.
The Cardinal looks to be in good shape entering the weekend, with a better team batting average (.264) than either of its two remaining Pac-12 opponents in Washington State (.260) and Utah (.232) and a lower ERA (3.45), as well.
Stanford ranks third in the conference with its .977 field percentage, despite early season struggles.
Austin Slater is hitting .500 during his current 10-game hitting streak and has risen to seventh in the conference with a .345 batting average.
Zach Hoffpauir is right behind, raising his average to .327, among the Pac-12's top 10. He's on a career-best eight-game hitting streak, and has at least two hits in each of his past six games.
Palo Alto resident Alex Blandino ranks second in the Pac-12 with nine home runs, fourth in total bases with 90 and fourth in slugging percentage at .517.
John Hochstatter (8-1, 1.96) has pitched his way into the Pac-12's elite, boasting the fifth best ERA, fourth best win total and ranks fourth in opponents batting average (.192).
Freshman Cal Quantrill averages 7.55 strikeouts per nine innings, and, along with Hochstatter, is one of eight conference pitchers with a complete-game shutout.
The Cardinal has won 13 of its past 19 games to put itself in decent shape for a postseason run. The NCAA selection committee values how well a team performs over its last 20 games or so.
Stanford has seven games remaining on its schedule and just getting by won't be enough. Winning all seven fits the perfect scenario, though it all likelihood, winning both of the remaining series and beating Pacific in a nonconference game may fill the prescription for success.
The Cardinal brings an RPI rating of 32, thanks to a strong schedule, into the weekend. The Cougars are currently No. 122, while Pacific is at No. 139 and Utah is No. 165.