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Baseball: Sandbrink leads Cardinal pitchers to four-hit win

Two games after piling on 22 runs against Washington State, the No. 11 Stanford baseball team proved it can win with its arms too, holding San Jose State to two runs on four hits Tuesday night en route to a 5-2 victory.

On a beautiful night at Sunken Diamond—a pleasant change from snowy Washington—senior starter Danny Sandbrink paced the Cardinal (14-7, 2-1 Pac-10), tossing four no-hit innings and striking out two. The Spartans (19-9) did not reach base until a leadoff walk in the fourth and didn’t record their first hit until the sixth.

Senior pitcher Danny Sandbrink, above, used a pitch he calls the "funk" to keep San Jose State hitters off balance in four shutout innings. Sandbrink did not allow a hit and only walked one batter (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily).

With his patented “funk” pitch—a sinker with unpredictable movement—dancing all over the strike zone, Sandbrink never let San Jose State get comfortable at the plate.

“They handle the bats well, but I just kept the ball low and they got themselves out,” Sandbrink said. “The funk was working well.”

Stanford wasted little time getting on the board offensively. Sophomore center fielder Tyler Gaffney led off the home half of the first with a walk and came around to score on back-to-back singles by sophomore shortstop Kenny Diekroeger and freshman first baseman Brian Ragira. The single by Diekroeger extended his hit streak to 15 games.

The Cardinal then extended its lead in the second. After another perfect inning by Sandbrink, the Cardinal exploded for four runs, once again ignited by a leadoff walk. Following a single from freshman designated hitter Brian Guymon, senior catcher Zach Jones brought home freshman right fielder Austin Wilson for the second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to left. Jones, who had been in a season-long slump before the Washington State series, now has 11 RBI in his last four games.

Gaffney then kept the inning moving with a double, setting up senior left fielder Ben Clowe’s RBI groundout to short. Gaffney came around to score on an error by San Jose State, its first of three on the night. Sophomore third baseman Stephen Piscotty capped the inning with a run-scoring double down the left field line.

From there, it was all about the Cardinal pitchers.

Sandbrink once again set down the Spartan offense in order in the third. After a walk to start the fourth, the only base runner Sandbrink allowed, the senior struck out Danny Stienstra, the Spartans’ leading hitter, to end his night.

“Tonight we grabbed an early lead and that makes it a lot easier to pitch versus a zero-zero game,” Sandbrink said. “You can be much more aggressive on the mound.”

Moving from a veteran to a rookie, head coach Mark Marquess handed the ball to A.J. Vanegas. The freshman quickly retired the side in the fifth, but ran into trouble in the sixth. After issuing the fourth leadoff walk of the game, Vanegas allowed a single and then a deep fly ball that set up a first and third situation.

Vanegas got the grounder he was hoping for, but the ball was hit too slowly for Diekroeger and freshman second baseman Lonnie Kauppila to turn the double play, allowing San Jose State to score its first run of the night.

Junior Scott Snodgress kept the Spartans’ bats at bay in the seventh and eighth, surrendering only one hit. Piscotty saved a would-be double with a backhand dive down the line at third.

The Spartans managed to scratch across one more run against junior closer Chris Reed, but it was too little, too late. Reed struck out pinch hitter Tyler Christian for the final out of the ballgame.

The win improves Stanford’s record to 6-0 in midweek games and extends its overall winning streak to three games.

Next up for the Cardinal is a conference clash against USC in Los Angeles this weekend.

 

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