Brian Ragira's slowly hit grounder in the infield gave the Stanford baseball team some hope Friday. That hope faded when host North Carolina responded with its own rally.
Seth Baldwin had two hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in three runs as the Tar Heels took the opener of an NCAA Super Regional with a 5-2 victory over the Cardinal.
Ragira's infield single plated two runs to pull Stanford within 3-2 in the eighth inning. North Carolina scored twice in their half of the eighth and held on.
"We hit some balls hard, just right at guys," Ragira said. "I thought we had a good shot going into the ninth, but they battled back also and put two runs on the board. That was something that they did well."
Stanford starter Mark Appel (6-7) pitched effectively for six innings, with Baldwin's home run the only mistake. Appel allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits. He walked three and struck out three.
The Cardinal (35-21) looks to rebound Saturday when the same teams meet Saturday at noon. It's an elimination game for Stanford.
North Carolina's Patrick Johnson proved difficult to hit. He took a shutout into the eighth, with Ragira, who got his base hit against Tar Heels closer Michael Morin, snapping a 30 2/3-inning scoreless streak.
"I thought the difference was Johnson," Stanford coach mark Marquess said. "I think he was phenomenal. I just think it was all about a great pitching performance. I thought Mark did a good job, had a good pitching performance for us also."
Ragira and Stephen Piscotty each had two hits for the Cardinal. Tyler Gaffney beat out an infield single to extend hit hitting streak to 21 games.