Wayne Taylor saved Stanford from itself with yet another dramatic home run, lifting the Cardinal past Vanderbilt, 5-4, on Saturday to force a final game at the NCAA Super Regional in Nashville.
Brant Whiting had three hits and drove in two runs as Stanford (35-25) won its first Super Regional game since beating Cal State Fullerton to advance to the 2009 College World Series, ending a five-game losing streak.
"It was a great college baseball game," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "A little too great for me."
Logan James (3-3, 4.77) will take the mound for Stanford in the deciding contest, with Sunday's winner advancing to Omaha.
Taylor, who also singled home a run in the seventh, hit his fifth home run of the season, and his second of the postseason, after the Commodores rallied to tie the game in the top of the ninth.
"I knew that if I was going to be able to hit with his velocity, I was going to have to get the head of the bat out," Taylor said. "I thought it was a pretty good pitch that he threw, it was down. I was able to put a good swing on it and get a hold of it."
Taylor was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 16th round just before the game started. His homer was his second go-ahead bomb in Stanford's last four games, as he knocked a three-run shot in the eighth inning to help carry the Cardinal past Indiana June 1.
Whiting had two hits before he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 30th round.
A.J. Vanegas (Dodgers), Dominic Jose (New York Yankees) and Sam Lindquist (Mariners) were also selected on the third day of the draft.
The Cardinal, apparently, is not happy unless its backs are against the wall. That's when it produces its best work.
Needing to balance pitching for Saturday and Sunday, the Cardinal turned to Vanegas for the final six outs. It nearly cost Stanford a berth in the College World Series.
Cal Quantrill pitched into the eighth inning, leaving with two runners on. Vanegas ultimately grabbed the victory but it was ugly. He threw 53 pitches, just 25 for strikes. He allowed one run on one hit but he walked four and hit a batter. He walked in one run and the hit by pitch forced home the tying run.
Vanegas (4-3) was forced to get four outs in the ninth, as one hitter reached base on a wild pitch after striking out.
However, it does leave Stanford in good shape as far as the bullpen goes. Sam Lindquist, Marcus Brakeman, Griffin Weir, Tyler Thorne and Chris Castellanos should all be fresh in support of James.
Chris Viall and John Hochstatter could each be available for limited duty if needed. Brett Hanewich, who pitched 5 2/3 innings in relief on Friday night, and Vanegas are likely not available.
Stanford was its own worst enemy against the Commodores, who needed just four hits to score their first seven runs on Friday.
The only run that scored while Quantrill was on the mound was the result of a throwing error. The fourth Vanderbilt run scored on a fielder's choice.
Whiting doubled to drive in two runs in the fourth, giving Stanford a 2-1 edge. Taylor and Brett Michael Doran each drove in runs in the seventh to make it 4-1, setting up the late-inning heroics.
Quantrill allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits. He walked three and struck out five.