Although Stanford baseball wasn’t able to make a miracle late-season run like it did last year and didn’t have its name called on Monday as part of the 64 teams that will play postseason baseball, the Cardinal (24-32, 9-21 Pac-12) did end their 2014-15 campaign on a high note by taking two of three from Washington State (29-27, 11-19) over the weekend.
The Cardinal’s starting pitchers continued their dominant streak to close out the season and absolutely shined against an abysmal Washington State offense — sophomore Brett Hanewich, junior Marc Brakeman and sophomore Chris Castellanos combined for 22.1 innings on the mound and allowed just 2 earned runs.
Highlighting a phenomenal weekend for Stanford starting pitching was Brakeman, who went the distance for his first career complete game in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader in what was likely the final start of his collegiate career.
Brakeman’s stellar outing followed up a tremendous effort from Hanewich in the first game of the doubleheader, in which the sophomore went 8.0 scoreless innings and allowed just 2 hits to push Stanford to a solid 9-0 victory.
The doubleheader was a result of a Friday afternoon cancellation due to lightning in the Pullman area, leading the teams to make up the first game of the series on Saturday afternoon, after the regularly-scheduled Saturday game.
The Cardinal took full advantage of the doubleheader, riding Hanewich’s and Brakeman’s stellar outings to clinch the series in one day with two easy victories.
Although the first game started out progressing through the orders very quickly with the two teams combining for just one hit apiece through the first five innings of the game, Stanford’s struggling offense took out its recent frustration in a dominating sixth inning, in which it busted out 7 runs on 5 hits to take a big lead that it would never relinquish due to Hanewich’s stellar pitching.
Sophomore Tommy Edman, junior Zach Hoffpauir and freshman Quinn Brodey all had 2 RBIs apiece in the game as part of a 12-hit outburst from the Cardinal offense, which was paced by Edman’s three hits. Every Stanford hitter picked up at least one hit except juniors Austin Barr and Bobby Zarubin, with the latter earning his first career start at third base.
Meanwhile, the second game of the doubleheader featured much less offense, but Stanford’s hitting did just enough to back Brakeman’s stellar pitching to push the team to a 3-1 victory and a sweep of the twin billing.
Hoffpauir again stole the show with a 3-for-4 performance that pushed him up to 5 hits total on the afternoon. Facing Joe Pistorese, the best pitcher on Washington State’s staff, the Cardinal started out fast with a Barr RBI single in the first inning followed by an RBI double from Hoffpauir and an RBI double from Brodey in the third.
Although Pistorese finished out his final collegiate outing with a strong push, holding Stanford scoreless over his final five innings of work, he couldn’t get any support during his 8.1 strong innings as Brakeman, his counterpart on the mound, only allowed 7 hits in his complete-game outing.
On Sunday, already having picked up their first series victory in over a month, the Cardinal had the opportunity to seal their first sweep of the season to finish on a high note. Despite 5.1 strong innings from Castellanos, Stanford’s offense fell flat one final time, as freshman Ryan Walker pitched 3.1 strong innings for the Cougars and senior Ian Hamilton pitched 5.2 remarkable innings of efficient relief as the teams dueled deep into extra innings.
Despite Stanford jumping out to an early 2-0 lead on a Brodey RBI double and a sophomore Jack Klein sacrifice fly, Washington State broke through in the sixth with a pair of RBI singles, with only a stellar Brodey outfield assist from left field to gun down Shane Matheny at the plate keeping the game tied at 2.
After that, despite a gutsy effort by junior Gabe Cramer, who threw 92 pitches in 5.1 innings out of the bullpen, the Cougars finally broke through in the bottom of the 11th inning, when a Cameron Elliott sacrifice fly allowed Washington State to walk off and avoid the series sweep.
Hoffpauir had a rather eventful end to his Stanford career, as the junior, who expects to join the professional ranks after this June’s MLB Draft, was ejected in the first inning after being called out on strikes on a pitch that was about a foot off the plate.
Although Hoffpauir didn’t appear to say anything to the umpire and simply walked back to the dugout after tapping the spot in front of him with his bat in the location where he thought the pitch crossed the plate, the umpire threw him out immediately, something Hoffpauir was unaware of until he reached the dugout and was informed of it.
Hoffpauir was thus forced to miss the final game of his collegiate career, as he was required to return to the team bus for the last 10 innings of the game.
Stanford will miss the NCAA tournament for just the second time in the last five seasons — the Cardinal had made three of the last four Super Regionals before regressing this season due to a combination of inexperience and injury.
The Cardinal will also say goodbye to three seniors — Jordan Kutzer, Luke Pappas and David Schmidt (and potentially John Hochstatter) — and several of its juniors as well, including Brakeman, Hoffpauir and Drew Jackson. Barr, Logan James and Jonny Locher could also figure into the draft picture.
With the season now over, the Cardinal’s juniors and seniors will learn their draft fate from June 8-10.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.