Enjoying its first game this season as the No. 1 team in the country, Stanford baseball stayed undefeated with a 5-1 win over UC-Davis at Sunken Diamond last night.
The Cardinal (8-0) benefited from a two-hit night from junior centerfielder Jake Stewart as well as another multi-RBI performance from preseason All-American third baseman Stephen Piscotty. The Stanford coaching staff shuffled five pitchers into the game, with none lasting more than two and two-thirds innings, but the Aggies (5-3) could only muster a single run despite being outhit just 7-6 by the Cardinal.
Senior Brian Busick made his first start in nearly two years for Stanford. The righthander has worked strictly out of the bullpen since the end of his sophomore season. After giving up two runs in one inning in his only prior appearance in 2012 — a 9-5 win over Vanderbilt — Busick got three quick outs in his predetermined one inning. Junior righthander Sahil Bloom came in for the second but struggled with his command, allowing a UC-Davis run and then loading the bases before getting out of the inning.
Bloom hit the leadoff batter in the third, but with the hit-and-run on, sophomore shortstop Lonnie Kauppila doubled up the Aggie baserunner on a line drive by leftfielder David Popkins. Bloom was yanked after hitting another batter in the fourth, and junior righthander Dean McArdle bailed him out with a timely double play to end the inning.
The Cardinal got on the board quickly, meanwhile, with a leadoff home run by Stewart, who also had a solo shot on Friday against Texas.
“I’m just trying to go up there and get on base — that’s my job as a leadoff hitter,” Stewart said. “I’ve been trying to see it well and just relax up there, and I think it’s been paying off.”
Piscotty tacked on two more runs with a third-inning double, and freshman first baseman Brian Ragira brought him home with a single to make the score 4-1.
UC-Davis loaded the bases again with two outs in the fifth, benefiting from a walk and their third hit batter of the night, but McArdle struck out junior designated hitter C.J. Blom to get out of yet another jam.
Stewart led off the bottom half of the inning with an infield single and advanced on an overthrown pickoff by junior righthander Patrick Hennessey. A pair of groundouts from junior leftfielder Tyler Gaffney and Piscotty brought Stewart home for the second time on the night and added to Piscotty’s team-leading 19 RBI.
McArdle continued his strong outing, getting some help from his defense to close out his 2.2 innings of one-hit relief work. With the second day of football spring practice concluding behind the outfield fence, Gaffney — who doubles as a Cardinal running back in the summer and fall — showed his agility with a sliding sixth-inning catch on a foul ball to left field. In the seventh, freshman catcher Wayne Taylor — making his first career start behind the plate — gunned out Aggie centerfielder Brett Morgan trying to steal second.
Taylor added his first career hit in the bottom half of the seventh frame with a leadoff double into right field, though Stanford failed to advance him past second.
“It was good to get his feet wet … we needed to get Taylor out there” said head coach Mark Marquess. “It’s tough for a freshman. I thought he did well. He was a little nervous to begin with, then he got his first hit and got comfortable behind the plate. He even threw a guy out in a big spot there.”
Sophomore A.J. Vanegas and freshman David Schmidt combined to finish out the game for the Cardinal, allowing just one hit over their three combined innings. McArdle got his first win of the season to put his career record at a stellar 13-4.
“Dean’s been critical to us,” Marquess said. “He’s had more wins than anybody else on our staff the last two years, and that includes Appel and Mooneyham. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. He’s started, he’s middle-relieved, he’s closed. He got the win tonight, pitched well and I just can’t say enough about him. He’s a team guy.”
Stanford will now head to Fresno State to face the Bulldogs in a three-game series starting Friday at 6 p.m.