The Cardinal baseball team, in the middle of an incredibly challenging stretch of its schedule, needed to keep the momentum from its series victory at Arizona State rolling as it welcomed the San Francisco Dons to Sunken Diamond. Despite its efforts, Stanford (26-17, 11-10 Pac-12) was stopped in its tracks, as it was unable to overcome USF (30-19, 14-7 WCC) in losing 4-3.
Last night’s loss was Stanford’s first non-conference loss in over a month, as the Cardinal had claimed victory in every midweek matchup dating back to March 26 against UC-Davis, which it also lost by a one-run margin. That winning streak couldn’t have ended at a worse time.
With the formidable Oregon State Beavers looming on the horizon, the Cardinal hitters were unable to string hits together against a Dons pitching staff that was by leaps and bounds the most solid non-conference staff they had faced in recent memory.
Seven USF pitchers combined to limit the Cardinal to only three runs after the Stanford offense had averaged seven per game in its last series against Arizona State.
Stanford claimed an early lead in the second inning by countering the Dons’ one run in the top of the frame with two scores of its own. With runners on first and third and one out, sophomore third baseman Alex Blandino lofted a fly ball to center that brought home junior center fielder Austin Wilson from third to quickly knot the game at one apiece.
The tie proved to be short-lived, however, as sophomore Wayne Taylor, back at catcher for a game after playing in the outfield for most of the last month, lined an opposite-field double down the left field line that scored junior second baseman Danny Diekroeger all the way from first, giving the Cardinal a 2-1 lead.
However, freshman righty Bobby Zarubin had a rough outing, as the Dons hitters tagged the Stanford starter for nine hits and four earned runs in his four-plus innings of work. The Dons pushed across three runs in the top of the fourth inning on four singles to push ahead of the Cardinal for good.
The USF bullpen prevented Stanford from getting anything going offensively after another Blandino sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth. The Cardinal hitters only mustered three more hits from the fifth inning onward, failing to capitalize on the few chances that they produced.
Stanford made one last push in the ninth as Wilson made it to second base, representing the tying run as Blandino stepped into the batter’s box trying to drive in his third run of the day. Although the third baseman ran the count full, he waved and missed at the 3-2 offering and the Cardinal were unable to push the equalizer across the plate.
Going into a do-or-die series against Oregon State this weekend, the Cardinal needed this victory to face the Beavers with momentum on its side. Though the Cardinal failed that task, it must prepare itself for potentially the toughest challenge of the season, with momentum or without momentum.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.