Fresh off a much-needed win in Austin, Tex. against the Longhorns, the Stanford baseball team (3-4) returns home to Sunken Diamond to face the University of San Francisco Dons (3-4) on Tuesday.
After a disappointing weekend series that saw it drop two of three against Texas, the Card hopes to build off of its 11-run offensive display in Sunday’s series finale and boost its record in a game in which it will be the favorite. The Cardinal’s sporadic offense has posted 32 runs so far this season in its three wins but only 10 runs in its four losses.
The Dons enter Tuesday’s game after a weekend visit to No. 2 Cal State Fullerton. On Friday, USF outlasted one of the nation’s top teams in a seemingly never-ending game that finally concluded with a 6-5 victory in the 19th inning thanks to a home run by junior infielder Brendan Hendriks. The Dons then suffered defeats of 11-0 and 5-1 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to Fullerton.
Although Stanford has not officially announced its starting pitcher, the Cardinal will more than likely send freshman pitcher Tyler Thorne to the mound for his second collegiate start. Thorne pitched six innings, surrendered only three runs and picked up the win in his first start last Tuesday against San Jose State. Combined with his two relief appearances, Thorne stands at 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA on the young season. Thorne will continue the streak of the Card’s beginning-of-season games with freshmen starting on the mound – currently at seven straight.
Opposing Thorne and taking the hill for the Dons will likely be fellow freshman Grant Goodman. The right-handed Goodman lasted only 3.1 innings in his first start against Kansas State, allowing four runs – two earned – in a game that the Dons would eventually win.
Junior third baseman Alex Blandino and senior second baseman and designated hitter Brett Michael Doran have been the highlights of an up-and-down Cardinal lineup so far this season. Doran tops the team with a .450 batting average while Blandino leads the Card with 10 hits. Blandino also connected for his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the Card’s five-run sixth inning, on Sunday against Texas after hitting seven home runs last season.
USF is led by junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who tops the team with a .429 batting average to go along with a home run and five RBIs on the season. The speedy Zimmer normally bats third behind the freshmen tandem of Matt Sinatro and Nico Giarratano. Sinatro, the leadoff hitter who splits time between left field and second base, has struggled getting on base so far this season with only seven hits – and none for extra bases – in 29 at-bats.
In last year’s matchup at Sunken Diamond, USF surprised then-No. 19 Stanford by jumping out to a lead and holding on for a 4-3 victory after the Cardinal had just taken two-of-three on the road against Arizona State. The Card fell to 26-17 overall and would lose three straight games afterwards in a stretch that ultimately doomed its chances at the postseason.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Sunken Diamond tonight.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.