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Defense turns season around for Stanford baseball

Sometimes the biggest plays for a baseball team aren’t walk-off hits or three-run homers. Stanford, struggling with a 5-7 record in Pac-12 play, was ahead 4-3 in an April game at Oregon that seemed to be slipping away against the Ducks’ David Peterson. Matthew Dyer lined a shot between second and third that looked like a go-ahead single, but second baseman Duke Kinamon ranged far to his left, grabbed it on a dive and fired to first. Stanford preserved a 4-3 win and went on to a three-game series sweep. Since Kinamon’s play, the Cardinal (34-14 overall) have gone 10-2 in the conference. Off the bat, I didn’t think (Kinamon) had a chance,” shortstop Nico Hoerner said, “even though he’s made a diving play to his left a million times — especially on turf because the ball moves extra fast. The Cardinal have won 15 of 17 overall going into this weekend’s series against Washington — the last regular-season home series in the 41-year head-coaching career of retiring Mark Marquess. No. 1 Oregon State has already clinched the Pac-12 title, but second-place Stanford is in position to host a regional in the NCAA postseason. “Having a first baseman that can dig the ball out of the dirt is reassuring for an infielder,” Hoerner said. Considering that center fielder Jack Klein (of St. Ignatius) and freshman catcher Maverick Handley, subbing for injured Alex Dunlap, are also strong defensively, Stanford has the critical strength up the middle that baseball values so highly. Asked how good a defensive player he was in his day as an All-America first baseman at Stanford, he said with a laugh, “I was good, but I get better as I get older.”

Article by By Tom FitzGerald (c) Top Sports Stories RSS Feed - Read full story here.