Another series, another sweep avoided on Sunday by Stanford’s baseball team.
The Cardinal (3-4) — which once again sent out three freshman starters, making it the only team in the country to have started a freshman pitcher every game this season — had its work cut out against Texas (5-3) at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. After getting blown out in the opener and losing on a walk-off wild pitch on Saturday, the pressure was on to salvage the series with a win. In front of a hostile crowd that averaged 6,470 spectators over the three-game set, Stanford once again provided strong run support for Chris Viall en route to an 11-5 win.
Cal Quantrill got the start on Friday, hoping to build on an up-and-down performance in the season opener. However, he struggled with command and found himself throwing out of the stretch early and often.
After the first inning, the score was knotted at one, with both teams having loaded the bases with one out but only able to push one run across.
But in the bottom of the second, Texas broke the game open and never looked back. With a man on third and two outs, Quantrill was poised to work out of another tough situation after working Texas senior second baseman Ty Marlow into a 0-2 count. After fouling off three pitches, Marlow swung and missed on the sixth pitch of the at-bat but reached first on a dropped third strike. That misplay opened the floodgates, which quickly ended Quantrill’s second outing. After the strikeout, a triple, single, walk, single and double ensued, plating five runs and giving the Longhorns a 6-1 lead that it never surrendered as it easily took game one by a score of 9-3.
Quantrill was pulled after 64 pitches, having allowed six runs on six hits and three walks in two innings. Although the Cardinal offense did have nine hits in the game, it struck out 11 times and left nine men on base, the main causes of its low run production.
On Saturday, Stanford showed some resilience, coming from behind twice to tie the game after freshman Brett Hanewich’s strong outing, in which he lasted 5.1 innings and shut out the Longhorns after allowing two runs — one earned — in the first.
The score remained 2-0 until the seventh, as Texas junior southpaw Dillon Peters was dealing, allowing just three Stanford baserunners over the first six innings. But in the seventh, consecutive singles from junior Austin Slater and junior Alex Blandino set up the Cardinal with runners on first and second with nobody out. Later in the inning, sophomore Zach Hoffpauir hammered a single to left with two outs and the bases loaded, tying the game at two and giving him his fifth hit and seventh RBI of the season.
Texas quickly regained the lead in the bottom half with an RBI single from senior Mark Peyton, who went 8-for-10 with four RBIs in the series. In the top of the eighth, Stanford once again tied the game with a two-out rally: a single followed by a Blandino RBI double down the left field line.
In the bottom of the ninth, sophomore Marcus Brakeman looked to extend the game into extras after escaping a jam in the seventh and pitching a 1-2-3 eighth. But after a groundout to open the inning, he suddenly lost command, with 15 of his next 19 pitches ending up outside the strike zone. With the bases loaded, two outs and a 1-2 count, he threw a wild pitch, allowing Texas to walk off with a 4-3 victory.
On Sunday, freshman starter Chris Viall gave the Cardinal offense all it needed, allowing just one run over 4.1 innings. Stanford exploded for 11 runs in the game, led by Blandino, who went 3-for-4 in the game with 2 RBIs. Blandino has gotten a hit in each of the Card’s first seven games and is quietly hitting .417 for the season.
Junior Wayne Taylor went 2-for-5 in the game, picking up a three-run bases-clearing triple in the second inning that first broke the game open at 4-0. From there, Stanford cruised and earned an 11-5 victory that was shortened to eight innings to accommodate the team’s travel plans.
Although it has not been consistent enough in scoring opportunities, the Cardinal offense has passed the baton of responsibility to the team’s starting pitching after hitting .297 in the series. While they are only two appearances into their collegiate careers, Stanford’s freshman starters have only pitched half of the team’s innings (30.1 of 60.2) and have a combined 4.75 ERA.
“It’s a learning process,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “Cal didn’t pitch as well as he did the first time. Hanewich pitched well and gave us a chance to win. It’s week-to-week and that’s how they learn. The competition we’re playing is very difficult, so if you don’t play well or pitch well, they usually take advantage of you. But that’s why we [play tough competition]: to find out where we need to improve.”
The Cardinal will host San Francisco this Tuesday at Sunken Diamond at 5:30 p.m., once again hoping to gather some momentum ahead of a weekend road trip to Nashville, Tenn., to take on Vanderbilt.
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.