Kenny Diekroeger's eighth-inning RBI double lifted Stanford to a 5-4 victory over Pepperdine on Saturday night in an NCAA regional game before 2,277 at Sunken Diamond.
The real story, though, was what set the stage for Diekroeger's winning hit that scored Tyler Gaffney. That took place in the sixth inning, when the Cardinal scored three runs after one wild pitch to come back from a three-run deficit and tie the score 4-4.
"We got something to go our way, and it ignited us," first baseman Brian Ragira said. "It got us going in the right direction."
Stanford (40-16) will play at 6 p.m. Sunday against the winner of the afternoon elimination game between Fresno State and Pepperdine. The Fresno State-Pepperdine winner has to beat Stanford twice to advance to the Super Regionals. Should the Cardinal lose Sunday, the second game would be played at 6 p.m. Monday.
Stanford reliever A.J. Vanegas struck out eight batters in the final 32/3 innings, striking out the side in the ninth to clinch the victory.
"A.J. was unbelievable, obviously," Cardinal coach Mark Marquess said.
Ragira, Danny Diekroeger and Alex Blandino had two hits apiece to lead the Cardinal. Ragira bashed a fourth-inning homer over the center-field wall.
The Cardinal trailed 4-1 entering the top of the sixth. Ragira was hit by a pitch to start the rally. One out later, Blandino and Eric Smith hit back-to-back singles to load the bases.
Blandino raced home from third on Silverstein's throwing error, and because the ball rolled out of play, Smith -- who had advanced to third on the error -- was awarded an extra base. He trotted home to tie the score at 4-4.
Pepperdine scored all four of its runs in the third, and a trio of former West Catholic Athletic League standouts ignited the rally. After Bellarmine product Joe Sever singled to load the bases with none out, former St. Francis star Sam Meyer singled home the game's first run. Tony Cooper, formerly of Serra, then collected an RBI on a fielder's-choice grounder.
"It was a very exciting game," Marquess said. "Probably a little too exciting, but it was good for us."
Fresno State 8, Michigan State 2: Trent Garrison had three hits and three RBIs as the Bulldogs eliminated the Spartans.