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Five-run fifth propels Card to .500 entering Texas series

During its opening series against Rice, the Stanford Cardinal became the only college baseball club in the country to start three freshman pitchers to open the season.

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Junior center fielder Austin Slater (right) went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs in last night’s game at San Jose State. His two-run double propelled Stanford’s five-run fifth inning en route to a 9-3 win. (FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

After last night’s game, make that four.

In its first Tuesday night contest of the season, the Cardinal (2-2) pulled away from local challenger San Jose State (1-3) in a 9-3 victory. The win at San Jose’s Municipal Stadium — Stanford’s ninth in its last 10 games played there — brought its record to an even .500 leading up to a major showdown with the Texas Longhorns (3-2) in Austin next weekend.

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Thorne, the fourth first-year hurler in as many games to start for Stanford, rebounded well after a rocky first appearance in Friday night’s season opener against Rice as a reliever. Thorne earned the win against the Spartans, pitching six dominant innings in which he gave up three runs — just one earned — on four hits and one walk.

Following Thorne’s strong six-inning performance, sophomore lefty Logan James pitched two scoreless innings in relief and freshman righty Griffin Weir sealed the deal with a scoreless ninth inning, striking out Spartan pinch hitter Mitch Ravizza to clinch the win for the Cardinal. It was the second straight game in which the Stanford bullpen held its opponent scoreless after giving up 10 runs — six earned — in its first two games.

Though the final score reflects a blowout in Stanford’s favor, the Cardinal at one point trailed 3-2 after the third inning. But after scoring the game-tying run in the fourth, the Cardinal bats exploded with a five-run fifth inning, highlighted by a two-run double from junior center fielder Austin Slater. Slater finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs.

Senior designated hitter Brett Michael Doran, who got his second consecutive start at designated hitter, picked up right where he left off on Sunday, going 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs. After just 10 at-bats in Stanford’s first four games, Doran already has more RBIs (6) than he did last season (5).

Meanwhile, senior first baseman Danny Diekroeger had his second consecutive three-hit game. Sophomore shortstop and leadoff hitter Drew Jackson and freshman second baseman Tommy Edman also recorded one RBI each.

The tremendous offensive output against San Jose State immediately followed the Cardinal’s 12 runs against Rice on Sunday, indicating that the Card’s young bats are still capable of catching fire, even after several key departures following last season.

San Jose State struggled to find consistent pitching throughout the game, as all but one of the five Spartan pitchers who took the mound gave up at least one earned run. Starting pitcher Carter Johnson left after two innings with the score tied. His immediate replacement, Ross Slaney, was credited as the losing pitcher.

Behind the plate, the Spartans also struggled to mount a consistent threat. All three of the San Jose State runs early in the game were sparked by Stanford defensive errors.

The two errors for the Cardinal defense raises a bit of a concern for head coach Mark Marquess and his staff, as it marks the second game of the young season in which the Card has committed multiple errors.

Stanford will next take the field in Austin, Tex. on Friday against a formidable opponent in the Longhorns. Following its three-game weekend series against Texas, Stanford will return home to take on San Francisco as it looks to prime itself for Pac-12 conference play.

Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Vihan Lakshman

Vihan Lakshman is a desk editor and columnist for the Opinions Section. He also contributes to the Daily's coverage of Stanford football and baseball and has served as a broadcaster for women's soccer, men's basketball and baseball on KZSU. Vihan is a sophomore from Savannah, Ga. (currently undeclared). In his free time, he loves reading and playing just about any sport. To contact him, please email vihan@stanford.edu.