Matt Winaker has seen himself win so many games in the bottom of the ninth in his mind that when it came to actually producing, it was another opportunity to help his team.
Winaker doubled home the winning run in the ninth to give the Stanford baseball team a 6-5 victory over visiting, and previously undefeated, Nevada.
"This is just baseball. It's supposed to be fun," said Winaker, a product of San Ramon Valley High. "Opportunities late in the game are what it's all about. It's why we play this game. When the call comes you're prepared for the moment."
Winaker, one of four freshmen in the starting lineup, has been producing since day one. He leads the Cardinal (4-4) with his .357 batting average, 10 hits, 21 total bases and eight RBI.
"Winaker has come up with some big hits for us," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "He's played well at first base. You don't expect a freshman to do that."
He's not the only one either. Jesse Huet, who stepped in when Drew Jackson hurt his hand, started the season 1 for 12, but has gone 6 for 9 with three RBI over his past two outings.
"There was a transition period," said Huet, who models his game after Dustin Pedroia. "College pitching is a whole new level. I had to get used to it."
A four-year starter as a shortstop at Huntington Beach, he's made the switch to second base as Tommy Edman slid over to shortstop following Jackson's injury.
The four first-year players combined for six of Stanford's 12 hits and four of the five RBI.
"We've had to force them a little bit," Marquess said. "They've all been solid."
Logan James (1-1) got the win after pitching a scoreless top of the ninth. Chris Viall may have been the unsung hero though. He gave up three runs, including a two-run homer, and then retired 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced.
"We needed some innings and he was huge," Marquess said. "After the home run he shut them down. That's good for him."
Viall gave up two hits, walked one and struck out five in his four innings. He threw 56 pitches, 33 for strikes.
The Cardinal travels to Rice to open a four-game series Friday at 2:30 p.m. The teams play a Saturday doubleheader and a single game Sunday.
Jonny Locher ripped a solid single to left field with one out in the ninth. A balk sent him to second and the Wolf Pack elected to walk freshman Beau Branton, who had two hits in the game, to set up a double play.
Winaker had other ideas. He lined a ball that one-hopped the right field wall. He was mobbed at second base by his teammates
"I was excited and focused," said Winaker, whose last five hits have all been for extra bases. "In my last at bat I had seen all his pitches. He left a curve ball up and I made contact."
Sophomore Alex Dunlap had three hits and drove in a run as Stanford won its second straight and four of its last six overall.