Unlike last season, Stanford baseball got conference play started with a bang rather than a whimper as the Cardinal (12-6, 2-1) rode the continued excellence of their pitching staff to take two of three from Washington State (8-14, 1-5), losing a hard-fought first game in extra innings, 5-2, before dominating in the final two to clinch the series.
The Cardinal’s starters over the weekend — junior Brett Hanewich, freshman Tristan Beck and junior Chris Castellanos — combined for 21.1 innings and allowed just 3 earned runs over the weekend, striking out 18 while walking just 5, a welcome return to form after the starters struggled a bit in the Kansas series.
The Cardinal’s largely quiet bats were paced by sophomore Quinn Brodey, who was the only Stanford hitter to notch hits in all three games of the series and capped it off by going 3-for-4 in the series finale after smacking a 2-run home run in the Friday game.
Beck in particular was spectacular on the mound, as Stanford fans have come to expect in his first few weeks of collegiate action. In the Saturday game, a 6-1 Stanford victory, the stud freshman improved his record to 4-1 by dealing 8 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 10 and walking just one while scattering 5 hits.
Beck struck out the first six hitters he faced on Friday to match his career-high after just two innings and became the first Stanford pitcher to hit double-digits in strikeouts since Cal Quantrill did it against Utah on May 23, 2014.
In his return to the starting rotation, Castellanos was also dominant in the series finale on Saturday, a 5-0 Cardinal victory, with 7 shutout innings in which he struck out 5 and walked a batter. The 101-pitch outing gave Castellanos his third win of the season and likely cemented his position in the Cardinal’s volatile starting rotation for the upcoming series against USC.
As a whole, Stanford’s pitching staff dropped its ERA to a conference-leading 2.14, far ahead of second-place Cal (2.80). Stanford has also allowed the fewest earned runs (39) and walks (50) in the conference by wide margins.
In the series opener on Thursday, Stanford’s bats went silent against the shaky Washington State pitching staff, going without a base hit between the first and sixth innings. Although Hanewich was putting up zeroes on the other side, he finally blinked in the seventh by putting runners on second and third with one out before sophomore Colton Hock allowed a two-out, 2-run double to net the Cougars a late 2-0 lead.
Although the Cardinal plated two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth to equalize on an error by Washington State left fielder Mason Cerrillo, Hock finally allowed the first runs of his season by yielding 3 runs on 4 hits in the top of the 10th inning to allow the Cougars to claim the opening game, 5-2, in 10 innings.
Stanford had more than its share of chances to win that game: The Cardinal only had 3 hits in the game but walked 10 times and twice stranded the bases loaded, leaving 13 runners on base in total while going 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position to effectively hand the game to the Cougars.
Friday, however, yielded a very different outcome as Washington State starter Ian Hamilton couldn’t keep up with the dominant Beck and allowed RBI hits to Tommy Edman and Nico Hoerner in the third to spot the Cardinal a 2-1 lead before the Cardinal blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth with a 2-run home run by Brodey and a 2-run single from Jack Klein to reach the 6-1 final margin.
Beck exited after 99 pitches in his 8 innings of work, yielding to junior Tyler Thorne, who pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the victory. The 8 innings and 10 strikeouts both marked career-highs for Beck, who leads the team with his 4 wins and his 26 strikeouts.
Saturday’s game saw more offensive struggles from Washington State, which pounded 9 hits but couldn’t come up with a run to show for it as Castellanos continually worked out of traffic on the base paths in the first five innings before Andrew Summerville, Thorne and Chris Viall combined to complete the shutout.
Klein got things started at the plate with a 2-run home run in the third inning — his first of the season — and Hoerner, Mikey Diekroeger and Bryce Carter also brought runners home, as the Cardinal pulled away for the 5-0 victory in the finale and claimed their second straight series victory.
Stanford will next travel 20 miles south to take on San Jose State on Monday in a 6 p.m. game.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.