By Joseph Beyda
The No. 1 Stanford baseball team dropped its first decision of the season in last Friday’s series opener against Fresno State, but bounced back with two decisive wins to grab its third straight series win.
Sophomore first baseman Brian Ragira and junior third baseman Stephen Piscotty continued to set the tone for Stanford (10-1) at the plate, combining for seven RBIs and 12 hits over the weekend. Despite junior righthander Mark Appel’s first loss of the season to begin the road trip, Saturday starter Brett Mooneyham and Sunday starter John Hochstatter clamped down, allowing two total runs over their 12.1 innings of work in the final two games of the series. No batter for the Bulldogs (5-7) had more than four hits on the weekend, and the Cardinal earned its second shutout of the season on Saturday to go along with a 16-0 offensive onslaught.
The Cardinal lost its first game of the season on Friday, falling 7-4 thanks to a four-run Bulldog sixth inning — just the second four-spot laid on Stanford all year. Appel (2-1) had his third career complete game for Stanford and set a career high in strikeouts for the second straight weekend, but eight Fresno State hits and a pair of home runs from Bulldog centerfielder Aaron Judge outweighed Appel’s 11 punchouts.
Down 2-0 in the top of the third after a two-run shot from the Bulldog sophomore, Stanford tied the game on a two-run double from Ragira. Judge hit a solo homer in the fourth to put Fresno State ahead again, but the Cardinal responded in the top of the fifth on a Piscotty double that made it 4-3.
Things unraveled in the sixth, however, and five hits by the Bulldogs put Stanford in the hole. No Cardinal player had a multi-hit night, and juniors Tyler Gaffney and Kenny Diekroeger each striking out twice at the heart of the lineup.
After their disappearing act on Friday, Stanford’s bats were back in time for the late Saturday start. The squad put up a seven-run beating on Fresno State starter Cody Kendall in his one-plus innings of work and never stopped hitting en route to a 16-0 win. Ten Cardinal batters — including eight of nine starters — had base hits as part of the team’s third double-digit victory in as many weekends this season.
Meanwhile, Mooneyham’s homecoming to the Fresno area was spectacular, as the redshirt junior lefthander took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out 13 Bulldog batters, matching his career-best, to move to 3-0 on the season.
Ragira and Diekroeger made it 3-0 in the first inning with RBI hits, and junior centerfielder Jake Stewart added a three-run homer in the top of the second to blow open the scoring. Gaffney and Piscotty followed with back-to-back doubles to tack on another run and chase Kendall, before junior catcher Eric Smith hit a home run of his own — this one a solo shot — in the third.
After being held off the board in the fourth, the Cardinal batted around in a six-run fifth inning to increase its lead to 14, highlighted by a two-RBI double by Smith and Diekroeger’s second two-bagger of the evening.
Sophomore rightfielder Austin Wilson hit another solo shot for Stanford in the sixth, and freshman catcher Wayne Taylor had his first career RBI on a ninth-inning double to cap the scoring at 16-0.
The Cardinal rode its offensive momentum into the rubber game, greeting Bulldog lefthander Tom Harlan with a four-run opening frame. Stewart and Gaffney led off the afternoon with singles and were brought home by a Ragira fielder’s choice and a Diekroeger double. The first of two RBI singles from sophomore shortstop Lonnie Kauppila and a Wilson fielder’s choice made it 4-0 to end the first.
A fourth-inning error by Fresno State extended the lead to 5-0, but Stanford already had all the offense it needed as Hochstatter clamped down in his second career start. His only two earned runs came at the end of his six-hit outing in the bottom of the sixth inning. The freshman from Danville, Calif. scattered just three hits over the first five frames.
A two-out rally by Stanford in the top of the seventh made it 9-2 with Kauppila singling home a run, Wilson doubling home another and Smith adding two more with his only hit of the afternoon.
Junior righthander Dean McArdle cleaned things up yet again for the Cardinal, getting out of the sixth before the Bulldogs could do too much damage and allowing just one hit in his 2.2 innings of relief. Freshman closer David Schmidt wrapped the weekend up with a near-perfect ninth inning, giving up just one baserunner on a walk.
Stanford wraps up its nonconference stretch this week, traveling to St. Mary’s on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and then hosting No. 4 Rice on the weekend at Sunken Diamond. Rice also came into this weekend undefeated before falling to Texas on Friday, but bounced back with two strong wins to improve to 11-1.