Eric Sorensen - D1 Baseball

Tawa Delivers in the Ninth

TEMPE, Ariz. – Tim Tawa's three-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning lifted No. 4 Stanford to a 3-2 win at Arizona State to close the regular season on Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

With the Cardinal (41-11-0, 22-7-0 Pac-12) down to its final out having not advanced a runner past second all day, Tawa blasted a 2-1 pitch beyond the left-field fence to flip the script and give Stanford its first lead of the day. Stanford's offense sputtered for eight innings but starting pitcher Erik Miller tossed 6.2 brilliant innings to keep it close. Stanford's defense played its fifth straight error-free game and sixth in seven games, and Jack Little slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth for his 26th career save, tying the program record held by Steve Chitren. With the win and a loss by USC, the Cardinal finishes in solo second place behind Pac-12 champions UCLA. 

"Tim has played such a great shortstop for us and today we were playing underwater for eight innings until he stepped up and delivered for his teammates," said the Clarke and Elizabeth Nelson Director of Baseball David Esquer. "This only reinforces the character of our team and this will give us some added momentum heading into the postseason next season.

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The Cardinal stranded a runner in scoring position in the opening frame before Miller went to work. After a lead-off walk in the first, Miller struck out Trevor Hauver before getting Lyle Lin to pop out into an inning-ending double play on the hit and run.

In the second, the Sun Devils (37-17-0, 16-13-0) got on the board with a two-out RBI single from Carter Aldrete, but Miller got an inning-ending ground out to strand two base runners. Stanford's offense went away in order in the third and fourth innings but Miller was up to the task, matching the Sun Devils with scoreless frames of his own.

Stanford had a great opportunity to score in the fifth after Duke Kinamon and Tawa started the inning with a pair of singles, but neither runner would advance past second base as starter Boyd Vander Kooi retired the next three Cardinal. In the home half, Aldrete's solo home run doubled the lead to make it 2-0.

Brandon Wulff was stranded after belting a one-out single into left field to start the sixth and Miller worked a one-two-three home half. Miller got the first two outs of the seventh before departing for Alex Williams, who got an inning-ending ground ball with a runner on first base. Miller's final line included five strikeouts while allowing two runs on four hits in 6.2 innings pitched.

Stanford was retired in order in the top of the eighth before Jacob Palisch worked a scoreless bottom half. Stanford started the comeback with Will Matthiessen's liner to right field and Duke Kinamon was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. With two outs, Tawa blasted a 2-1 pitch high in the air and beyond the left-field fence for his eighth home run of the season.

Palisch returned to start the ninth, getting Hunter Bishop to fly out to right field before closer Jack Little took over. Little struck out Cole Austin before issuing a walk, but struck out Gage Workman looking for his 10th save of the season.

NCAA regional sites will be announced on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. PT with the NCAA Selection Show scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday.

Cardinal Notes

  • It was the second time in Tawa's career he has hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the ninth inning with Stanford trailing by two. Tawa hit a walk-off, three-run blast against Michigan at Sunken Diamond last season on March 3.
  • Last season, Stanford trailed by two entering the ninth inning at Washington but Will Matthiessen's two-run homer tied it before Nico Hoerner beat out an infield single to drive in the winning run, clinching Stanford's first Pac-12 title since 2004.
  • Tawa's eight homers are a career high after hitting seven as a freshman.
  • Stanford has hit at least one home run in 22-of-24 games with 59 homers in its last 28 games.
  • The Cardinal finishes the regular season 20-4 in games played away from Sunken Diamond.