Hampered by injuries to its best players and done in by walks and errors, Stanford baseball was swept by Arizona in its Pac-12 opener this weekend. It was the Wildcats first ever sweep of the Cardinal at Sunken Diamond.
“We just really got outplayed in all phases of the game for the weekend,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “Not very good obviously. We gave them way too many free opportunities with bases on balls and errors, which made it difficult when you play anybody. We just gave them too much and we didn’t do much offensively.”
The Cardinal (9-11, 0-3 Pac-12) surrendered 20 walks, 14 of which were allowed by the team’s starting pitchers. Brett Hanewich, Keith Weisenberg and Chris Viall accounted for 14 of the bases on balls, and overall, they walked 22 percent of the batters they faced.
Stanford’s defense committed 7 errors over the three losses — bringing the team’s season total to 27 errors in 20 games.
“It’s just trying to figure out where everyone fits in in our team,” said sophomore second baseman Tommy Edman after Friday’s 6-5 loss. “Everyone who’s playing now is starting to get a lot more experience — those are guys who are really playing college baseball for the first time. Once guys come back from injury, I think we’ll be solid.”
The struggles add insult to injury — literally — for Stanford, as earlier this week, it was announced that sophomore ace Cal Quantrill would miss the remainder of the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Friday. Not to mention, the Cardinal’s other two returning starters, junior Marc Brakeman and senior John Hochstatter, will both be out for the next two weeks with tendonitis in their pitching arms.
It was Hanewich who filled Quantrill’s role as the team’s Friday night starter this week. After the Cardinal jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, spurred by three consecutive singles, Hanewich held the Wildcats (19-6, 4-2) hitless over the game’s first three innings.
But Arizona scored three runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Stanford’s bats went silent after the first inning, as they tallied just one hit from innings two through eight.
“We just have to take more competitive at-bats in the middle of the game instead of really sitting on a lead,” Edman said. “We have to stay focused the entire game and not make any mental mistakes like we did today.”
Hanewich took the loss in the eventual 6-5 loss on Friday after allowing four runs — three earned — in six innings. Though he said he felt much better than in some of his earlier starts, when he was still making the transition from the bullpen to the rotation.
“It’s tough not knowing — the not knowing is never fun. But I try to prepare myself every week no matter what role it is,” he said. “Talking with the older guys, especially Hochstatter — he was where I am this year. He was in the pen and then ended up starting and won 10 games. He’s a good example.”
Freshman Keith Weisenberg got the nod on the mound for Stanford on Saturday, but continued his early-season struggles. Arizona jumped out to a 4-0 lead early, as the freshman was knocked out after just 2.2 innings. He allowed four runs on six hits, bringing his season ERA to 10.66 (15 ER in 12.2 IP).
Save for a rally in the fifth inning in which the Cardinal scored four runs on four hits all without making an out, the team’s offense was lethargic once again. The Wildcat bullpen relieved starter Robby Medel after the blow-up and did not allow a run (just three hits) over five innings of work. Arizona took Game Two of the series, 6-4.
Arizona junior starting pitcher Tyger Tally stole the show in Game Three on Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats clinched the sweep. He threw a 123-pitch complete game shutout, allowing just two hits and striking out six Cardinal hitters. It was the first shutout of his career.
The Wildcats scored two in the third, two in the sixth and then one in each the eighth and the ninth to take the series finale, 6-0.
Stanford hit just .179 (17-for-95) on the weekend, scoring just nine runs over the three games. The team’s season batting average is down to .240.
“It’s a little bit of a snowball effect. Guys get themselves out a couple of times and you start to lose confidence. Confidence is a huge thing — when it’s going well, it’s going well,” said junior Austin Barr. “But just as bad as it’s going right now, it can go just as well the other way once we get some confidence and putting some good at-bats together.”
Two players that could provide a boost to the lineup, and two of Stanford’s three returning starting position players entering the 2015 season, juniors Zach Hoffpauir (wrist) and Drew Jackson (hamate) will also be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future — Hoffpauir for an estimated four weeks, Jackson for two. Sophomore Matt Decker and freshman Jesse Kuet have also been out of the lineup. Still, Marquess and the Cardinal expect others to step up in place of the injured players.
“That’s an excuse. That’s part of the game and that happens,” Marquess said. “Obviously, that hurts anybody — losing a starting pitcher and we have a lot of guys injured. But we have talented guys back and we need to get better in all phases.”
The Cardinal have now dropped five straight games dating back to the Texas series at the beginning of March. They’ll look to end the skid tomorrow, as they welcome San Diego for a 1 p.m. Monday matinee at Sunken Diamond.
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.