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Taylor’s late heroics, Vanegas’ arm keep Stanford’s season alive

Wayne Taylor raised his right arm triumphantly as he rounded first base on his 360-foot jog around the baseball diamond. His teammates in the first-base dugout roared their approval, energized and given new life by the junior catcher’s pinch-hit, three-run home run to left-center field that gave the Cardinal their first lead against Indiana. What looked to be another futile effort at the start had turned upside down, giving the momentum squarely to Stanford.

 
That blast was the catalyst that sparked No. 3 Stanford’s (33-24) dramatic, come-from-behind 10-7 win over No. 1 Indiana (44-14), a win that not only stunned the hometown crowd on hand at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Indiana, but also kept the Cardinal’s season alive and set up a rematch with the Hoosiers tomorrow afternoon with a Super Regional berth on the line.

“I think the pitch was a slider,” Taylor said. “I saw a slider on the pitch before and he threw it again and I hit it. You know, I think it was a turning point for us.

“I appreciate the shot again tonight,” he added. “I actually saw that guy last night in a pinch-hit situation, and so I think Coach [Mark Marquess] just thought it was a good matchup and I think it turned out to be one.”

(BEN MIKESELL/The Indiana Daily Student)

Junior catcher Wayne Taylor (above) sparked Stanford’s comeback with a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the eighth that helped keep the Cardinal’s season alive. (BEN MIKESELL/The Indiana Daily Student)

Even after Taylor’s home run, however, the game was far from over as the Hoosiers threatened until the very end. Stanford extended its lead to 10-6 in the top of the ninth on a trio of hits from the heart of its order before sophomore reliever Marcus Brakeman walked the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the inning, giving the fans in Bloomington new life.

However, freshman reliever Christopher Castellanos did not buckle under the pressure, and he first induced a fielder’s choice before getting Hoosiers third baseman Dustin DeMuth to line into an unassisted double play that was fielded by an ecstatic Brett Michael Doran to clinch the game for the Cardinal.

It didn’t always seem like the story was going to have such a happy ending for the Farm Boys.

Sophomore lefty Logan James struggled in his first start of the NCAA Tournament, lasting only 1.2 innings and allowing four runs on five hits. And despite early back-to-back home runs from sophomore right fielder Zach Hoffpauir and senior catcher Brant Whiting, the Cardinal offense struggled to find its rhythm against Indiana righty Christian Morris.

Stanford later found its footing in the bottom of the fifth, when freshman shortstop Tommy Edman and senior first baseman Danny Diekroeger notched a pair of singles with one out. Junior third baseman Alex Blandino first knocked a sacrifice fly to drive in a run before junior center fielder Austin Slater singled to right and the Hoosiers’ right fielder overthrew the ball into the dugout to allow another run to score.

Indiana later scored another run in the seventh before Taylor took center stage with his heroics in the next frame.

(BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Senior reliever A.J. Vanegas (above), while erratic at times, pitched 5.1 solid innings for the Cardinal and consistently worked out of jams to keep Stanford in the game and set up Taylor’s heroics. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Taylor’s home run made a winner out of senior reliever A.J. Vanegas, who entered in relief of James in the second inning and pitched 5.1 innings to give the Cardinal’s bullpen much-needed rest in Stanford’s second game of the day.

In his 81-pitch outing, Vanegas was wild with four walks, but allowed just two runs on four hits and consistently worked out of jams to keep Stanford in the game.

“I was trying to give my team an energy boost,” Vanegas said. “We had fallen back, fallen behind, and I just pitched with a lot of energy and just tried to get the momentum on our side.”

“We told him we were going to go to him early and there was no tomorrow and we needed him to win today and to keep playing,” Marquess added. “He gave us everything he had for [5.1 innings] and that’s his longest outing at a big time for us.”

Backing Vanegas up were solid offensive outings from both Hoffpauir and Slater, who each picked up three hits apiece. In doing so, Slater improved his hitting streak to 21 games, which moved him past Stanford coach Ryan Garko to sixth in program history since 1988. Meanwhile, Hoffpauir finished just a double short of the cycle and drove in two runs.

Stanford and Indiana will meet for the third and final time of the Regional tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Super Regional against Vanderbilt.

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park '16 is the head copy editor, a sports desk editor and a former Managing Editor of Sports at The Daily. He fills the "Crazy Old Uncle" role at The Daily, occasionally being allowed to throw up football stories and rant-y columns. Do-Hyoung is a junior from Saint Paul, Minnesota studying chemical engineering and computer science. To contact him, please email him at dpark027 'at' stanford.edu.
  • BaseballFan

    What in the world was Marquess thinking sticking with Brakeman after the first walk in the B9th, let alone sticking with him for 3 in a row? It was obvious Brakeman did not have it, even with a 4-run lead.

  • AC

    Probably didn’t want to burn another pitcher with the game pretty much decided. James has been solid all year and deserved to see more than one batter. But maybe not two! That was a crazy end. Any idea who’s pitching today? Viall?

  • AC

    *Meant Brakeman, not James.