Stanford (30-21, 14-13 Pac-12) easily coasted past Pacific (14-37, 6-18 Big West) by a score of 11-2 Tuesday night at Sunken Diamond behind sophomore third baseman Alex Blandino’s two-homer performance.
The Cardinal, facing a crucial do-or-die series this weekend against No. 11 UCLA, took care of business against the Tigers to keep this weekend’s series relevant.
Pacific came to Sunken Diamond hoping to play spoiler, extend Stanford’s two-game Tuesday losing streak and effectively eliminate Stanford from playoff contention. Unfortunately for the Tigers, however, none of those things happened on a chilly Tuesday night.
After Pacific’s battered pitching staff gave up nine runs in its last matchup with the Cardinal, the Tigers’ coaching staff decided to throw a fresh arm on the mound by giving first baseman Erik Lockwood his first start on the mound this season.
But Lockwood was not able to get the job done; the game got out of hand quickly as Stanford’s hitters jumped all over him. Lockwood could not make it out of the second inning, earning the loss by allowing five runs on four hits in 1.1 innings of work.
Stanford got out to a quick start out of the gate as senior designated hitter Justin Ringo, a sparkplug in the leadoff spot all year long, doubled to lead off the game. Sophomore rightfielder Austin Slater followed with a walk.
After an uncharacteristic double steal that showed the Cardinal’s aggressiveness on the base paths, both runners came around to score on a sacrifice fly from junior first baseman Brian Ragira and an RBI groundout to third by junior center fielder Austin Wilson.
After that quick start, the offense never looked back. Every Cardinal starter reached base, and three-RBI nights from both Ragira and Blandino led the offensive charge.
All three RBI for Blandino came on two mammoth home runs hit over the left-field fence, upping the sophomore’s count to six on the year.
“We were just being aggressive and seeing good pitches,” Blandino said. “I don’t know how many strikeouts we had today, but I definitely think the number was pretty low. Again, just seeing good pitches, getting ahead and being in hitters’ counts.”
Wilson contributed two RBI and junior shortstop Lonnie Kauppila continued his solid hitting as of late with an RBI triple in the fifth. Leftfielder Wayne Taylor reached base in all five of his plate appearances, coming around to score three times.
Stanford was equally strong on the other side of the ball. Senior righty Dean McArdle, likely making his last collegiate start, turned in his best performance of the year. McArdle tossed six shutout innings, striking out four while scattering just five singles and only allowing three runners to reach second base.
“Dean, this whole year, has been consistent throwing strikes and making the other team put the ball in play,” Blandino said. “It’s a good recipe for a victory when your pitcher’s out there throwing strikes, making the other team hit the ball, and we’re playing good defense.”
While that is certainly a good recipe for winning, Stanford has often been unable to put all of the ingredients together against strong Pac-12 opponents.
With a very good UCLA squad coming to Sunken Diamond to close the season, the Cardinal looks to carry the momentum from its current four-game winning streak to keep its season alive.
First pitch against the Bruins on Friday night is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.