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Stanford douses No. 8 Ducks on rainy weekend

After inopportunely dropping two of its three games to USC to open Pac-12 play last weekend, Stanford’s baseball team did not get a break as it welcomed the conference leaders, No. 8 Oregon, to Sunken Diamond. Despite a dismal 3-9 record against the Ducks (19-8, 6-3 Pac-12) over the last four seasons, the Cardinal (10-11, 3-3) captured their second series victory of the season, sweeping a doubleheader on Friday by scores of 6-3 and 2-1 but failing to complete the series sweep with a 9-2 loss on Sunday.

(FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

Junior outfielder Austin Slater (13) and the Cardinal notched just their second series win of the season with a doubleheader sweep of Oregon on Friday before dropping Sunday’s series finale. (FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

After Saturday’s game was rescheduled due to rain in the forecast, the two teams played a marathon 20 innings of baseball over five hours and 57 minutes in a doubleheader on Friday. Dominant starting pitching from Stanford, which has emerged as a strength over the last month despite the team’s youth, as well as sound defense and effective small ball, cemented the Cardinal victories.

Stanford’s contingent of freshman starters has combined for a 1.61 ERA over its last 11 games, and Opening Day starter Cal Quantrill’s progression has cemented the rotation. Quantrill owns a 0.89 ERA and is averaging 7.4 K/9 and 3.57 K/BB over his last five starts after posting a 13.50 ERA over his first two starts.

“The series win is huge,” Quantrill said. “We really should have had USC in the first [conference] series, but it’s not the end of the world: you win some, you lose some. It was big that we came back out and proved that we were in this. We’ve got a young team, so this is a good start to getting on a roll.”

The Cardinal have also strung together a season-long four consecutive errorless games, and have continued to use sacrifices to advance runners when hits are at a premium.

“It’s about producing runs when you’re not hitting,” said junior outfielder Austin Slater.  “We struggled with it at the beginning of the year, but we’re getting better at it. We’re not always going to hit and we know that, so defense and pitching is going to keep us in every game.”

In game one, Stanford jumped out to a quick lead after the offense rallied for three runs in the first inning before recording a single out. Sophomore outfielder Zach Hoffpauir, who went 4-for-8 with a double and an RBI in the Friday doubleheader, had an RBI single in the inning. He is hitting 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position so far this season. Freshman outfielder Alex Dunlap added an RBI single of his own in the first, en route to a 3-for-10 series in which he homered and tallied three RBIs.

The Cardinal didn’t surrender its lead for the rest of the game, as freshman pitcher Brett Hanewich had a quality start, allowing just three runs over six innings. Hanewich was backed up by three more runs — all coming with two outs — and 11 total hits, Stanford’s most since the team’s March 4 game against Cal.

Game two was a pitcher’s duel, as each team’s starting pitcher lasted seven innings and allowed just one run. Quantrill allowed just six hits and no walks while striking out eight in his seventh start of the year.

“His fastball was down, his change and breaking ball were consistent and he threw a lot of strikes,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “Even through the shutout [against Kansas on March 9th] was great, Friday’s start, considering the opponent, was his best outing of the year.”

Though the Cardinal only had three hits in the 11-inning affair, both of its runs came after a hitter reached base and was advanced by two sacrifice hits. (Stanford had six total sacrifices in the game.) A sacrifice fly from freshman second baseman Tommy Edman in the bottom of the eleventh plated Hoffpauir and clinched the series for Stanford.

An attempt to complete the sweep on Sunday fell short after the Ducks broke open the game early with a seven-run second inning and maintained the lead for the rest of the game. Freshman pitcher Chris Viall was pulled after allowing four runs over 1.1 innings — his shortest outing of the season.

For a young team entering a Pac-12 season where it will face some of the top teams in the country, a series win against a top-10 squad is sure to boost confidence. Stanford hopes to carry the momentum from this series into its second matchup at Cal on Tuesday night and later to its first road trip of the season at Oregon State next weekend.

Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Jordan Wallach

Jordan Wallach is a sports desk editor at The Stanford Daily. He has served as a beat writer for Stanford's baseball and women's volleyball teams. Jordan is a sophomore from New York City and is a prospective chemical engineering major. To contact him, please send him an email at jwallach 'at' stanford.edu.