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Sunken Diamond senior sendoff goes the Cardinal’s way

Stanford baseball’s seniors said goodbye to Sunken Diamond on a high note, as Stanford (27-23, 13-14 Pac-12) took care of business on Monday night, securing a 5-2 victory over the visiting Pacific Tigers (26-27, 15-12 WCC). In its final home game of the season, Stanford was victorious in a must-win game for its postseason push.

(SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Senior first baseman Danny Diekroeger (above) notched a pair of hits in his final career game in the familiar confines of Klein Field at Sunken Diamond against Pacific on Monday. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Seniors Danny Diekroeger, Brett Michael Doran, Sam Lindquist, Brant Whiting and A.J. Vanegas and fifth-year senior Sahil Bloom appeared for their final game in the confines of Sunken Diamond. This senior class exits with two Super Regional appearances in 2011 and 2012 and still a fighting chance at another. As redshirt juniors, both Lindquist and Whiting are eligible to return for one more year if they choose to do so.

“Just trying to enjoy it, and just have a good time with my teammates and take in the whole experience,” said Diekroeger of his last game at Sunken Diamond. “It’s too bad, a lot of good memories here.”

“It was weird being out there knowing it would be my last time out there,” Doran added. “It felt a lot better to get a win, but it was definitely a little emotional knowing that it was my last time playing here.”

Freshman Brett Hanewich excelled in his final start of the regular season, throwing his first career complete game. Although he did allow 13 hits, he showed great poise and maturity throughout the game and surrendered only two runs, issued one walk and stranded nine runners on base.

“I felt back to where I was at the beginning of the year where I was throwing more strikes,” Hanewich said. “I kind of got away from that towards the end of the year but it was nice to get that back.”

After Pacific scored its first run of the game in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead, Hanewich locked down and got the next batter out to leave two on base. Then again in the sixth inning, with runners on the corners, he struck out Pacific’s J.J. Wagner to end the inning. In the eighth inning, Hanewich stifled yet another rally attempt when, with runners on first and second and one out, he induced a groundout that turned into a double play.

He saw through the complete game in the ninth when, despite allowing another run, he retired Taylor Murphy to record Sunken Diamond’s final out this season. Fittingly, it went to the hands of the seniors, with Doran throwing to Diekroeger for the last play of their Sunken Diamond careers.

Although Pacific led 1-0, Stanford quickly responded with four runs in the bottom of the third inning. An error by Pacific shortstop Brett Sullivan allowed freshman Jack Klein to reach first, and he would advance to second on Doran’s 21st sacrifice bunt of the year, a single-season Stanford record.

After the second out was recorded, Diekroeger singled and junior Alex Blandino walked to load the bases. Junior Austin Slater then delivered the game-breaking hit with a two-run single into right field, extending his hitting streak to 14 games in the process. An error by Murphy in right field moved Slater to second and brought Blandino all the way home from first to give Stanford the 3-1 lead. Sophomore Zach Hoffpauir then doubled to stretch Stanford’s advantage to 4-1.

In the fourth inning, Diekroeger singled to drive home the fifth Cardinal run of the game. His two hits helped contribute to the four overall hits on the night by the seniors out of seven overall, with Doran and Whiting also picking up a hit apiece.

“Just to see them and how they’ve been going about themselves and how they’ve been going about the business, it kind of changes my mentality about how I want to go about my business, how I want to be one of the leaders maybe,” said Hanewich of the seniors. “They go about doing what they preach.”

The home game might have also been the final game at Sunken Diamond for several of the juniors who could declare for the MLB Draft, including Blandino and Slater, who were both projected to go in the first three rounds of the MLB Draft by ESPN.

Stanford concludes its regular season with a three-game series at Utah this upcoming weekend. The Cardinal likely need to win all three games to enter the postseason, but it is very difficult to project whether or not they will make the tournament regardless of the outcome.

“This is a special group of guys,” Hanewich said. “Although our record may not say that, we are a really good team — I really believe that. We’ve had some struggles pitching, we’ve had some struggles at the plate, but it’s all about the team effort. We’re just trying to do everything day in and day out, practice hard and do everything we can in the push towards the postseason.”

Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.

(HIRAM DURAN ALVAREZ and DO-HYOUNG PARK/The Stanford Daily)

(HIRAM DURAN ALVAREZ and DO-HYOUNG PARK/The Stanford Daily)

About Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson is a sports desk editor at The Stanford Daily. He has served as a beat reporter for football, baseball and men’s soccer and also does play-by-play broadcasting of baseball and men’s soccer for KZSU. Michael is a sophomore from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. majoring in computer science. To contact him, please email him at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.