By Joseph Beyda
The No. 2 Stanford baseball team won its third midweek game of the season Tuesday afternoon at Saint Mary’s, as three Cardinal pitchers held the Gaels to just five total hits in a 5-0 victory for the squad’s second shutout in three games.
Stanford (11-1) got three-hit performances from junior centerfielder Jake Stewart and junior third baseman Stephen Piscotty on a day when the Cardinal’s top five batters each came around to score once against the Gaels (8-5).
The Cardinal opened the scoring in the first inning for the eighth time this season, a particularly impressive stat because Stanford has yet to allow an opponent to bring home a runner in the opening frame. Sophomore lefthander Ben Griset struggled with his command for Saint Mary’s, and despite having given up just three walks and posting a 1.38 ERA in his 13 previous innings of work, he loaded the bases with Stanford’s first three batters of the game. Junior Kenny Diekroeger singled home Stewart and junior leftfielder Tyler Gaffney with one out to make it 2-0, a strong start to the second baseman’s two-hit, three-RBI performance.
The Gaels threatened with a baserunner of their own in the first, as sophomore Ricky Boas reached on an error, advanced on a groundout and then stole third with just one out, but Stanford sophomore A.J. Vanegas got out of the inning unscathed.
The afternoon quickly turned into a bounce-back outing for the righthander, who came into the matchup with five earned runs to his name in only 3.1 innings pitched this season. He struck out the side in the bottom of the third against the top of the Saint Mary’s lineup and added two more punchouts over his five innings of three-hit work to earn the win, his first decision of the season.
Stanford’s bats were also held relatively quiet in the early going, however, as the squad stranded three runners in scoring position between the second and fourth frames.
The squad extended its lead to five in a three-run fifth inning. Piscotty led off with a single, sophomore first baseman Brian Ragira advanced on a fielder’s choice and Piscotty moved to third thanks to a Gael error. Diekroeger singled home a run, and sophomore rightfielder Austin Wilson knocked in two more with no outs still on the board, but the Cardinal could not do any more damage and the game stayed at 5-0.
Stanford’s 12 hits on the afternoon only translated into those five runs, with Saint Mary’s sophomore Ryan Brockett holding the Cardinal scoreless in his four innings of relief despite giving up five base knocks. Thirteen Stanford runners were stranded on the basepaths, four more than the squad’s average.
Cardinal pitching continued its dominance over the Gaels, with junior righthander Sahil Bloom replacing Vanegas in the sixth and retiring the first five batters he faced. Freshman closer David Schmidt came in for the ninth and didn’t allow a hit, improving his already-impressive ERA to 1.00 and opponents’ batting average to .161.
Stanford now prepares to meet No. 4 Rice (11-2), which surprisingly lost last night 3-2 to Texas State, which received the 43rd most votes in last week’s coaches’ poll. The Owls also will play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi tonight, so the Cardinal may be able to take advantage of their fatigue in its final nonconference series of the season.
Stanford has yet to lose in its seven home games thus far and has already swept two ranked opponents at Sunken Diamond in Vanderbilt and Texas, both of which have since slipped out of the top 25.
Friday’s game against Rice begins at 5:30 p.m., with a 1 p.m. start set for Saturday and a noon finale set for Sunday.