Widgets Magazine
No. 2 baseball has historic showing in sweep over Utah
Junior shortstop Nico Hoerner (above) was part of an offensive juggernaut that averaged 14.33 runs in the three-game series against Utah. Hoerner batted 7-13 with eight RBI.(JOHN P. LOZANO/isiphotos.com)

No. 2 baseball has historic showing in sweep over Utah

There are a few levels of good offensive showing in baseball. They range from solid outing to a volcanic eruption. No. 2 Stanford baseball’s (37-6, 17-4 Pac-12) performance against Utah (12-32, 6-15) on the road ranked something between historic and unthinkable.

Through the three-game sweep, the Cardinal outscored the Utes 43 to 10, which included a 25-5 beatdown in the second game of the series.

The 25 runs were the most scored by Stanford since scoring the same amount against then-No. 19 Nevada in 1995. The 28 hits in the victory were the most in the program’s history.

The Cardinal are now in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 after being tied with UCLA before the weekend.

“We keep creating opportunities, and that’s what we want to see — even if we’re stopped a couple times, we’re doing a great job of continuing to give ourselves chances to score,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “I think we’re getting more and more comfortable in the RBI spots — hitting is contagious, and our guys look very, very comfortable in the batter’s box right now.”

Plenty of familiar faces made their marks like junior shortstop Nico Hoerner (7-13), sophomore first baseman Andrew Daschbach (six RBI), freshman center fielder Tim Tawa (six hits) and senior second baseman Beau Branton (5-12). However, the mantra of the team this season has been a 35-man approach to every game, and this series wasn’t any different.

Sophomore Will Matthiessen, who usually has mostly played as a relief pitcher, hit three home runs in the series, including two on the final game.

Matthiessen had zero home runs on Monday of last week, and he now has four home runs this year, adding to the Cardinal’s power surge for the season.

Junior Nick Oar had six at-bats all season prior to the weekend series against Utah, and he added two home runs to his score sheet, which were the first two of his career.

“I give our guys credit for learning how to win in many different ways,” Esquer said. “Will Matthiessen really gave us a shot in the arm this week, coming up huge in the designated hitter spot. It’s great to see players taking their opportunities like that.”

“The bar has been set high, the guys are hungry and everyone coming off the bench is doing a great job of keeping that intensity up when our starters come out,” Esquer added.

The pitching was stellar for the most part as the starting pitchers combined for 16.0 innings and allowed only three runs. The bullpen was solid as it didn’t let the huge leads get it too comfortable. Freshmen relief pitchers, Carson Rudd, Austin Weiermiller and Jacob Palisch, totaled for 5.1 innings and four earned runs, but three came in an 0.1 inning from Rudd.

The first game began in the brisk mountain air on Friday morning. Junior pitcher Tristan Beck was on the mound, and he continued his string of quality starts, going 6.0 innings, striking out five batters and yielding one run.

“Beck has looked better and better as the season has gone on, and today was another impressive showing from our Friday night guy,” Esquer said. “This was yet another improvement from his last start, and we’re going to need more of that from him.”

Beck didn’t need to have his best performance because the offense put on a show in the high altitude. The Cardinal bats used a balance effort to drop 12 runs on the Utes struggling pitching staff.

The offensive showing was capped off by Oar’s first career home run in the top of the 9th, which gave the Cardinal a dozen runs.

Beck was relieved by the freshman Weiermiller and Rudd, who shut out the Utes for 3.0 innings to end the game.

Junior southpaw pitcher Kris Bubic started for the Cardinal in the second game. With the same start time, Bubic put up a similar standout performance as his teammate as he pitched 5.0 innings, seven strikeouts and zero earned runs.

However, the real story of this game was the offense. The Cardinal scored 25 runs and had innings of 10, five and six runs in this game alone. Seven batters ended the game with more than three hits and the Cardinal hit a season-high four home runs, including Branton’s first career home run.

In the 5th inning, the Cardinal had 11 straight runners reach on-base, and freshman Christian Robinson hit the program-record 28th hit with an RBI double in the top of the 9th.

The bullpen would give up five runs, but the damage was too much to overcome for Utah.

The final game featured sophomore Erik Miller starting, and he delivered one of the best performances of his season by going 5.0 innings and allowing two runs.

This game was a lot more contentious than the previous two as Utah tied the game at 3-apiece in the 6th.

The Cardinal used a final big inning, only three runs this time, in the 8th to put Stanford over the top 6-4. Sophomore closer Jack Little pitched 3.0 innings to get the win.

“Today was what you expect in baseball,” Esquer said. “It took us a while to get our feet on the ground after two big wins to start the series, and today was a definitely a dogfight.”

The Cardinal have a short reprieve before going back on the saddle to play Santa Clara on Tuesday at home and then travelling to Corvallis for a pivotal three-game series against No. 3 Oregon State starting on Friday.

 

Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.