The Stanford Cardinal rallied from an early 3-0 deficit, putting up six runs in the fifth inning en route to a 12-3 drubbing of the Rice Owls Sunday afternoon at Sunken Diamond.
Stanford (1-2) had scored just four runs in dropping the first two games of the season-opening three-game series.
Rice (2-1) got off to a fast start when Skyler Ewing smacked his second homer of the series off Cardinal starter Chris Viall, the third straight freshman to take the ball to start for Stanford.
The Owls added another run in the second inning on a leadoff homer by Michael Aquino, his first of the season, to make it 3-0.
From there, Viall took over. The 6-foot-9 right-hander allowed just one hit over the final four innings and picked up his first collegiate victory by throwing 79 pitches over five innings, allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Viall got the win thanks to the Cardinal bats finally awakening in the fifth off Rice starter Kevin McCanna (0-1). The left-hander had scattered three hits in four shutout innings before the Cardinal got to him.
Tommy Edman led off the bottom of the fifth with a single but was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Drew Jackson. Wayne Taylor followed with a homer to right field, his first of the season, to cut the Rice lead to 3-2.
Danny Diekroeger kept the rally going with a walk and after a fly ball out moved into scoring position with a steal of second. Austin Slater tied the game with a double down the line in left field, which ended the day for McCanna.
Rice called on right-hander Ryan McCarthy to stop the bleeding. But Brant Whiting greeted the new pitcher with a single to right center to score Slater and put the Cardinal up 4-3. Brett Michael Doran then hammered a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left field and Stanford led 6-3.
McCanna threw 84 pitches for the Owls, allowing four runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
Stanford broke the game open in the seventh off reliever Jon Duplantier.
Diekroeger led off the inning with a single and Alex Blandino was hit by a pitch, with both runners moving up on a passed ball. Slater lofted a fly ball deep enough to center to score Diekroeger to make it 7-3. Blandino moved up to third on a ground ball out and Doran brought him home with a double down the left field line. Caleb Smith came out of the Owl bullpen at that point and immediately uncorked a wild pitch to move Doran to third. Zach Hoffpauir got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and unloaded a homer to left, his second of the season, to put the Cardinal up 10-3.
Stanford capped the scoring in the eighth with a back-to-back RBI singles by Slater and Whiting.
The Stanford bullpen worked four scoreless frames. Right-hander Marcus Brakeman twirled three innings, allowing three hits and two walks with two strikeouts before lefty Logan James worked the ninth with a walk and a strikeout.
The Cardinal hit the road for the first time on Tuesday, visiting San Jose State for a 3 p.m. contest, before heading to Texas for a three-game set Friday through Sunday.