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Cardinal comes up hard way

– They are here to rain on Indiana’s parade; one of college baseball’s old guard, trying to ruin the party and plans of the new-age Hoosiers.

They’re the Stanford Cardinal, the team that blew past Indiana State 8-1 Friday in the NCAA regional. If Indiana is to continue on toward a return to the College World Series, the Cardinal will have to be dealt with this weekend.

New to the Hoosiers’ bandwagon? There are a lot of rookie Indiana baseball fans, and many of them were wearing red in the stands Friday night, watching the Hoosiers play Youngstown State. Two years ago, you would have needed door prizes and free food to get most of them to an Indiana baseball game.

But now the Hoosiers are thinking a national championship run. Meet the team trying to ruin it all this weekend.

The freshman Stanford pitcher who threw a four-hitter at Indiana State on Friday, Cal Quantrill, has a father, Paul, who once relieved 89 times in one season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and 86 times in another season for the New York Yankees.

“I got to play catch with Derek Jeter once,” Cal was saying. “He was throwing a lot harder than I could handle back then.”

The coach, Mark Marquess, has been on the same job for 38 years. He was leading Stanford baseball when John Elway was playing quarterback for the football team.

The first baseman who had two hits, Danny Diekroeger, has a 3.8 grade-point average in computer science.

Between him and brother Kenny, someone named Diekroeger has started 210 consecutive games for Stanford.

The rightfielder who is hitting .339, Zach Hoffpauir, played in the Rose Bowl as a safety for the football Cardinal. He is one of 10 FBS footballers who doubled up in baseball this spring.

The freshman leftfielder whose three-run homer carried the day Friday, Jack Klein, had only 30 at-bats all regular season, and none of them a homer.

“It was probably the last thing on my mind,” he said of what he was thinking coming to bat. “It was probably one of the best feelings of my entire life.”

With all that done Friday, the Cardinal looked ahead to spoiling the weekend for the Hoosiers.

Stanford and Indiana. They go together in baseball like big band music and rap.

The Cardinal came into this weekend with 82 NCAA regional victories in their history. The Hoosiers came in with four.

Stanford has been to 16 College World Series. Indiana has been to one.

Indiana played a nice schedule, going 42-13. Stanford played against a lot of college baseball redwoods, and went 30-23. This weekend will tell if that makes a difference.

“I know they have a great home crowd,” Marquess said. “We’re used to that. When you play at Texas, you play at Rice, you play at Vanderbilt, you’ve got to play in a hostile environment.”

So the Cardinal got here the hard way, through a brutal schedule.

“You run a risk when you do that,” Marquess said. “But if you can survive it and get to the postseason, you’re ready for anything, and that’s why we do it.”

They’ll find out this weekend if anything includes Indiana.

Mike Lopresti is a freelance writer. His columns appear periodically in The Journal Gazette.

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