Sports

Cardinal opens final baseball series with a 2-1 win over Ducks

 

The season hasn't played out quite the way the Stanford baseball team expected at the beginning of the year but the players continue to put a lot of work and effort into it.

It's going to take nothing short of a miracle for the Cardinal, which beat visiting Oregon, 2-1, in the opener of the final regular-season series on Thursday, to qualify for the NCAA tournament. There are just too many teams ahead of Stanford in the Pac-12 Conference.


Austin Barr
"Oregon still has a chance to make the playoffs and it's fun to play the role of spoiler," Stanford shortstop Tommy Edman said. "It's nice to have a winning record, but the goal is to make the playoffs."

The Cardinal (29-23, 13-15 Pac-12) moved ahead of California and UCLA into eighth place for the time being. The rest of the Pac-12 opens Friday night. The Ducks and Stanford play at 7 p.m.

It's such a strange year for the conference, that Utah, with its RPI rating of 102 and with a losing overall record, has a better chance of reaching the NCAA tournament than at least six other Pac-12 teams heading into this weekend. The Utes advance by taking two of three from Washington.

The Huskies can gain the conference's automatic bid with a series victory, which would also knock the Utes out of the postseason.

Stanford still has an outside chance to finish in a third-place tie, though too many things would have to happen. A win over Oregon was a good start.

"No one is really bad, so you have a lot of team right around the .500 mark," Cardinal coach Mark Marquess said. "That hurts us in the RPI rankings."

Arizona, which finished its season last weekend, owns the best RPI rating at No. 25. Arizona State follows at No. 35. Neither team can gain the automatic bid. Oregon State, No. 49 in the RPI, has been eliminated too.

Stanford, at No. 86, looks like a longshot at best.

"I've never seen anything like this," Marquess said. "We haven't been winning games easily and and we're not losing badly. The whole league is like that."

Brett Hanewich made a triumphant return to the mound, giving up an unearned run on three hits in his six innings. He missed three weeks.

"He had been out of synch but he didn't walk many guys," Marquess said. "That's a nice way for him to end the season."

Andrew Summerville (5-2) recorded four out for the win and Colton Hock retired all five batters he faced for his fifth save.

Stanford improved to 6-8 in one-run games after Nico Hoerner singled in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Edman doubled in the tying run an inning earlier.

"When you play so many low-scoring games it comes down to one big situation," Edman said. "It just happens. The pitchers have done well and the defense has done well."

Matt Winaker, Jonny Locher and Austin Barr each added a pair of hits.

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