Sports

Cardinal gets over the hump with key series win over UCLA

 

Alex Blandino started the day with a monster home run, Austin Slater collected a career-high four hits and a pitcher-by-committee held things together as Stanford won a critical Pac-12 Conference baseball series from host UCLA, beating the Bruins, 5-2, on Sunday.

The Cardinal (9-12 Pac-12, 21-20 overall) is above .500 for the first time all season after accumulating a 10-4 record over the past 14 games.

Stanford hopes to carry that momentum into Tuesday night's 5:30 p.m. nonconference game with visiting Santa Clara ahead of next weekend's road trip to Tucson to take on Arizona.

The Cardinal won its second conference series out of the past three to remain in contention for a postseason berth.

"You want to win the league, but realistically that's not going to happen for us," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "We have to try to win every game that we can. Every win that we can get is big for us."

Blandino, who gave Stanford a first-inning lead with a shot that sailed well over the left field fence at Jackie Robinson Stadium, and Zach Hoffpauir each drove in two runs in support of starter Logan James and relief pitchers A.J. Vanegas (2-2) and Chris Castellanos.

James made his second start in six days with nearly the identical result. He allowed one run on four hits over four innings. He walked one and struck out four. James threw four scoreless innings against Pacific on Tuesday.

Vanegas entered the game at a crucial spot in the fifth. Palo Alto grad Cristoph Bono doubled and scored, and James hit a batter. That brought Vanegas into the game. A sacrifice bunt, a grounder to third and a strikeout ended the threat.

Vanegas went three scoreless innings, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out three. Castellanos allowed a run on four hits over his two innings of work to complete the victory.

The Cardinal scored all five of its runs with two outs, and was 5 for 13 in two-out situations on the day. Stanford recorded six two-out hits in Saturday's 5-0 victory.

Stanford pitchers allowed three runs over the last 25 innings against the Bruins, who scored six runs in the first inning of Friday night's win.

The Cardinal won for the sixth time in its last seven road games to clinch the season series over the national defending champions a fourth consecutive year.

After Blandino hit his Pac-12-leading seventh homer, Stanford tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Slater single, and, with two outs, Dominic Jose drilled a double into the right field corner. Hoffpauir followed with an RBI single.

Blandino's one-out sacrifice fly plated a run in the seventh and Hoffpauir added an RBI single in the eighth.

Slater has gone 9 for 18 with five RBI over his last five games to push his team-leading average to .331. He also leads the Cardinal with 48 hits, five doubles and 26 RBI.

James improved his ERA to 5.14 from 6.33, while Vanegas has a 1.42 ERA over 25 1/3 innings. The relief trio of Vanegas, Castellanos and Sam Lindquist has a combined 4-2 mark with six saves and a 1.49 ERA in 38 appearances.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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