By Joseph Beyda
In the Stanford baseball team’s fifth game in six days, a walk-off grounder by Saint Mary’s spelled a 3-2 loss for the Cardinal, as it could only muster one earned run off Gael pitchers.
The loss drops the No. 21 Cardinal to 20-14 (5-7 Pac-10), despite a pitching staff that allowed five or fewer runs for the sixth straight game.
Saint Mary’s (18-18) made the most of two solo home runs from sophomore Brenden Kalfus, marking just the seventh and eighth homers that the Cardinal has given up on the season. Both of the homers came off sophomore righthander Dean McArdle, who has started primarily on Sundays this season, but instead pitched four innings in relief of junior starter Jordan Pries on Tuesday.
Despite the two dingers off McArdle, junior closer Chris Reed (2-2) picked up the loss, getting the Cardinal out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth without giving up a run before surrendering the winning run on a grounder in the bottom of the ninth.
At the plate, Stanford put together seven hits, but it never strung together more than two in a single inning. Sophomore third baseman Stephen Piscotty was the only Stanford player to come up with more than one base hit.
Down 1-0 in the top of the sixth, senior catcher Zach Jones got Stanford on the board with a two-out double. He’s now knocked in at least one run in three straight games.
Saint Mary’s quickly responded, with Kalfus’s second home run of the afternoon–and the season–in the bottom half of the inning.
After Stanford stranded a pair of runners in the seventh, Piscotty came to the plate in the eighth with two outs and freshman right fielder Austin Wilson at first. Piscotty singled into center field, but a throwing error sent him to second and scored Wilson from first to tie the ballgame at 2-2.
Yet again, the Cardinal was unable to capitalize on the runner in scoring position, when a flyout from sophomore shortstop Kenny Diekroeger ended the inning.
While Stanford survived the bases-loaded threat by the Gaels in the eighth, it stranded a runner at second base for the third straight inning in the top of the ninth. St. Mary’s took full advantage by putting runners at the corners before junior Markus Melgosa grounded to third. Piscotty’s throw to the plate was late, capping off the 3-2 victory for the Gaels.
Offensive production will continue to be a focus for the Cardinal–four of Stanford’s last five losses have come in games in which the team scored two or fewer runs. A possible rallying point is Jones, who got off to a slow start this season but is now tied for second on the team in RBI, with 22.
Stanford will now prepare for a three-game series at No. 9 Arizona State. The Sun Devils have won 12 of their last 15 games, with the only losses coming in a three-game sweep at the hands of Pac-10 leader Oregon State.
The Cardinal and the Sun Devils square off in the first game of a three-game series at 6:30 p.m. in Tempe, Ariz. on Friday night.