Tuesday night’s baseball matchup against San Jose State was truly a tale of two games. For the first five innings, the Cardinal was in complete control, jumping out to a big lead early and stifling the Spartan offense.
In the sixth inning, everything came apart for Stanford in a big way. A Cardinal bullpen that had been rock solid all year finally gave way, allowing the Spartans to come all the way back. In the end, however, the Card (17-10, 6-4 Pac-12) was able to tack on late insurance runs and squeak by the Spartans (11-22) by a score of 10-8.
For the first half of the game, it looked as if the Cardinal was in for an easy victory against a scuffling Spartan team. The recently ignited offense pounded Spartan starter James Glawe for five runs on four hits in the second inning, greatly aided by a throwing error committed by first baseman Matt Carroll.
In that second inning, the Cardinal quickly got runners on second and third with one out. Carroll then set the stage for the rest of the inning with his throwing error on a ball off the bat of senior leftfielder Justin Ringo. The defensive miscue allowed Ringo to scoot all the way around to second and scored both runners, giving the Card an early 2-0 lead.
The error proved costly for San Jose State, as Stanford benefited from a pair of run-scoring doubles from both of its catchers to claim an early five-run lead. Sophomore Wayne Taylor, normally a catcher but playing center field, doubled Ringo home and junior Brant Whiting followed with a two-run double of his own a few batters later.
In the meantime, sophomore lefty John Hochstatter, Stanford’s starting pitcher, kept the Cardinal on top with a stingy performance in which he gave up only three hits and one earned run in four innings of work.
Everything was looking good for the Cardinal until the sixth inning began.
The Cardinal first turned to sophomore righty David Schmidt to hold the lead. After pitching an uneventful fifth inning, Schmidt was unable to record an out to open the sixth as he allowed three straight hits—one of which scored a run—and a walk to open the inning before being pulled in favor of senior righthander Dean McArdle.
McArdle didn’t fare much better, giving up three RBI singles and a run-scoring double play as the Spartan offense roared back to make it a 7-6 game.
Only one inning later, McArdle allowed a leadoff triple to Spartan centerfielder Andre Mercurio. Mercurio would come around to score on Carroll’s double in the very next at-bat to knot the contest at 7-7 after seven innings of play.
The Cardinal, however, would not go quietly. In the ninth inning, with extra innings seemingly inevitable, the bats came alive for one final push to carry the team to victory.
Junior Austin Wilson, playing in his third game back from an extended elbow injury, started the rally with a double into left. After third baseman Alex Blandino was walked on four pitches, Ringo came through once again with a double into the gap in right-center to bring Wilson home.
Two more runs would eventually come around on a sacrifice fly by Taylor and a passed ball, giving the Cardinal a three-run lead that it would not relinquish. Although the Spartans threatened in the bottom of the inning and scored a run, junior AJ Vanegas sealed the victory by freezing catcher Sheldon Daquioag on a called strike three.
“We never gave up,” said Wilson. “We have to pick our pitchers up in that situation. The pitching staff got us the whole year and the bats came around in the end, and it was a great ‘W’ for us. So hopefully we can bring momentum into the series with Washington and get big victories this weekend.”
The Cardinal will look to continue its recent power surge in the offense as it returns home for a three-game weekend series against cellar-dwelling Washington (8-22, 2-7 Pac-12). The first pitch on Friday evening will be at Sunken Diamond at 5:30 p.m.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.