The Cardinal baseball team has maintained its win streak in all sorts of ways, from masterful pitching performances to walk-off nail-biters. Last night, Stanford battled not only the Santa Clara Broncos but also the elements. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Card (10-2) upped its win streak to nine games as it squeezed by Santa Clara, 6-4 in the midst of a windstorm.
With winds gusting as high as 25 miles per hour in advance of a storm bearing down on the Bay Area, conditions were less than ideal for baseball in Santa Clara. Every fly ball hit to right field was cause for unnecessary drama as the wind blowing in from the right had a mind of its own.
This was no clearer than in the top of the sixth inning, when sophomore right fielder Austin Slater hit a high fly ball that was clearly destined to land in right field. However, the wind pushed the ball all the way back into the infield, where Broncos shortstop Justin Viele had to dash over from his position and slide in order to make the catch.
Senior righty pitcher Dean McArdle, making his third weekday start of the season, fell behind early in the first inning when the leadoff hitter for the Broncos singled on a ball right up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and promptly scored on a single by third baseman Greg Harisis.
After the run scored, however, McArdle settled in and cruised through the rest of his outing as he collected a well deserved win, his first of the season. In four solid innings of work, McArdle struck out a season-high six batters and only allowed one more runner to reach base on a single in the fourth.
“I was just leaving balls up early with strikes down the middle of the plate, thigh high, so I was just trying to concentrate on keeping balls down after that,” said McArdle. “They swung over some pitches, the umpire gave me some calls and we played some good defense.”
Although the offense was out-hit by the Broncos batters 8-6, the Cardinal hitters were able to take advantage of four errors committed by a sloppy Santa Clara defense throughout the evening to put runs up on the board.
In the second inning, a ball hit by sophomore left fielder Dominic Jose resulted in not one, but two errors: one by first baseman Quinton Perry and another by second baseman Kyle DeMerritt. This resulted in Jose reaching second base and sophomore third baseman Alex Blandino, who had been on first, scooting all the way over to third.
The Cardinal was able to take advantage of the miscue when freshman outfielder Jonny Locher delivered a solid single into center field. Both Jose and Blandino scored on the play to put Stanford up early 2-1, a lead that it would never relinquish.
Stanford tallied on three more insurance runs in the fourth inning to extend its lead. Sophomore catcher Brant Whiting continued to impress in limited action with a sacrifice fly that brought home junior shortstop Lonnie Kauppila. A pair of back-to-back RBI singles from Slater and junior infielder Danny Diekroeger put the Cardinal up 5-1.
There was some controversy in Stanford’s half of the fifth inning when Locher hit a sharp ground ball that bounced off the glove of the shortstop and dribbled into left field. Kauppila took off from second base, barreled around third and was waved home. Seeing the throw beat him, the junior did what all baseball players do in such a situation and smashed into the catcher, attempting to dislodge the ball.
After what appeared to be a clean collision at home plate, Kauppila was ejected from the ballgame by home plate umpire Sid Aguilar after it was ruled that he used his arms in the collision, which constituted unnecessary force.
Although coach Mark Marquess voiced his displeasure and argued, Kauppila was forced out of the ballgame and was replaced by freshman Drew Jackson.
The normally solid bullpen provided a scare in the bottom of the ninth inning, allowing the Broncos to rally and bring the potential winning run to home plate. After a run had already come across with two outs, junior righty Sam Lindquist balked the tying run to second base. With the game on the line, Lindquist was able to strike Harisis out to end the game.
Stanford will hope to extend its winning streak even further as the Cardinal prepares to host the UNLV Rebels for a three-game series at home over the weekend.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at firstname.lastname@example.org.