Stanford scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth but saw its comeback bid fall short as visiting Arizona escaped Sunken Diamond with a 6-5 win Friday evening in the Cardinal's Pac-12 baseball opener.
Trailing 6-3 in the final frame, Matt Winaker scored on a passed ball and Austin Barr shelved his third RBI on the evening before Arizona's Bobby Dalbec closed the door to secure his third save.
Winaker and Barr had two hits apiece for Stanford (9-9). Arizona improved to 17-6 overall and 2-2 in league action.
The Wildcats scored six straight after staring at an early 3-0 deficit. That hole was made possible by a three-run first inning from the Cardinal. With finals week coming to a close, Stanford dusted off its bats with four hits in the opening stanza, including a two-RBI double from Barr.
Arizona led the nation in batting average (.342) and hits (266) entering the contest, yet did not manage its first knock until a three-run fourth. That's when a Stanford error and the second of Hanewich's five walks put two on for Michael Hoard. Hoard ripped a triple down the rightfield line to cut into Stanford's lead, 3-2. Zach Gibbons added an RBI single to knot things at 3-3.
The Wildcats went with their small ball to take a 4-3 lead in the fifth, and used Ryan Aguilar's pinch-hit double to right in the eighth to help build a 6-3 cushion.
Brett Hanewich (1-2) logged 6.0 innings in his starting effort and gave up four runs three earned on three hits with six punchouts. Stanford's pitching corps issued eight free passes and the Cardinal had two miscues in the field which led to three unearned runs.
The win went to Nathan Bannister (4-0) after he relieved starter Cody Hamlin in the fifth. Bannister's outing spanned 4.1 innings, as he limited Stanford to one earned run on one hit. Bannister went into the ninth before giving way to Dalbec.
Joey Starling, one of five Cardinal pitchers to see action, contributed two strikeouts in 0.2 innings of relief.
Both teams had seven hits, with Arizona leaving nine runners on base.
Game two of the series begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.