Sports

Cardinal getting healthy, wins first Pac-12 series

 

Zach Hoffpauir hit his third home run in two days, Andrew Summerville threw six scoreless innings and the Stanford baseball team won its first Pac-12 Conference series after beating host California, 12-6, Sunday.

Hoffpauir had two hits in his first 23 at-bats and missed significant time with an injury. He has eight hits in his last 15 at- bats, driving in 10 runs and scoring five times.

The junior outfielder caught fire last year to lead the Cardinal to a berth in an NCAA Super Regional. That was with a healthy Cal Quantrill, Stanford's pitching ace.

The Cardinal (2-10 Pac-12, 14-19 overall) hopes to make the same kind of run this year, even without its top three starting pitchers.

"I think we can get rolling, start winning some series, and maybe do what we did last year," Hoffpauir said.

Stanford looks to continue the momentum into this week's action, which includes a game at Santa Clara on Tuesday night at 6 p.m., and a three-game conference set with visiting Utah over the weekend.

Efforts like those from Summerville and Friday's winner Brett Hanewich gives Stanford some hope. Marcus Brakeman, who opened the year in the starting rotation, has been working his way back to full strength and could start seeing action soon.

"It's definitely been challenging," Stanford pitching coach Rusty Filler said. "It's forced our hand with some of the younger guys. That bodes well for the future,"

Filler is talking about this year, not future years. He's not giving up on the season and neither is veteran coach Mark Marquess, who said the team remains upbeat and excited to play despite its worst conference-losing streak since at least 1957.

"It's a tribute to this team that they continue to work extremely hard," Filler said. "Everybody has injuries and losing a shortstop, catcher, DH and three starters have made it interesting. We're pitching by committee and hoping we can perform. We've been a little inconsistent on the mound but that's what happens with younger guys."

Hoffpauir, who leads the team with three homers, and senior shortstop Drew Jackson have returned to the lineup in recent days. Their presence gives the Cardinal more experience and leadership. It makes a difference.

"Having Drew and Zach back helps pitchers feel more comfortable," said Hanewich, who pitched seven solid innings in Stanford's 4-2 win on Friday. "We trust everybody on this team but those guys have been through it before. They have the experience."

Stanford hopes to use its first series victory to catapult itself back into position for a postseason berth. There are 23 games remaining, with several opportunities to improve its RPI rating, which currently stands at No. 100.

The Cardinal still has games against five opponents currently ranked higher, including No. 5 UCLA and No. 12 USC. Oregon State, California and Washington State are also ahead of Stanford.

Summerville (3-0) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out four to push his scoreless innings streak to 12 and earn his second win of the week. He stayed in and around the zone, throwing 63 strikes on 96 pitches.

The Cardinal scored all of its sixth-inning runs with two outs. Beau Branton and Jonny Locher had RBI singles as part of the team's second six-run frame in its last seven innings.

Eight Cardinal players had at least one hit, as Stanford outslugged Cal, 13 hits to 10. The Bears scored all of its runs in the eighth, including a grand slam by Brian Celsi to end the shutout bid.

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