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Postseason hopes dim with series defeat in Utah

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With the season winding down and the postseason approaching, Stanford baseball (25-21, 11-13 Pac-12) dropped a key series against Utah (20-25, 15-9) this weekend. Despite securing a win on Saturday, the Cardinal pitchers were unable to stymie the Utes’ hot bats and surrendered 19 runs across three games. After splitting the first two games, Stanford dropped the rubber match, resulting in its second-ever series loss to Utah.

This series was about as close as it gets to a must-win for the Cardinal, who now sit in ninth place in the conference. With only four or five teams from the Pac-12 likely to get postseason invites and Stanford only having six conference games left, the Cardinal’s already slim tournament hopes are looking dimmer by the day.

On Friday night in Salt Lake City, freshman Tristan Beck had a rare rough start, giving up 7 runs on nine hits in 4.0 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. His night started auspiciously enough, as he sat down the side in order in the first inning, but the Utes forced the freshman to throw nearly 70 pitches over the next two innings.

Trailing 7-0, Stanford began to mount a comeback, plating three runners in the top of the fifth inning: A single from Jack Klein loaded the bases, and a groundout and singles from Nico Hoerner and Tommy Edman sent three runners home to narrow the gap. Utah tacked on another run in the bottom of the frame.

Stanford answered with 2 runs in each of the next two innings, bringing the score within one to start the eighth, but Utah added an insurance run off of reliever Kris Bubic in the bottom of the eighth and held Stanford scoreless in the ninth to take the game 9-7.

The Utes jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in Saturday’s game, but shutdown pitching from junior Chris Castellanos and sophomore Colton Hock ensured those were the only runs Utah would score that day. The pitchers combined for seven strikeouts as Hock earned his fourth save of the season.

It was a team effort on the offensive side: Eight different Cardinal recorded a hit in the 4-2 victory. Klein tied the score at 2-2 with his fifth home run of the season, and an RBI double from junior Alex Dunlap in the sixth put Stanford on top. Duke Kinamon gave the Cardinal a two-run cushion, sending Dunlap home on a single to right field.

Stanford took an early lead in Sunday’s series finale but could not hold on, eventually falling 8-3 to the dominant Utes. The Cardinal opened scoring in the third as senior Austin Barr reached on a standing triple and sophomore Matt Winaker singled him home two batters later. In the next inning, Kinamon stroked another RBI single to send Quinn Brodey home, establishing a 2-0 lead.

Utah came back with a vengeance, tallying 8 runs across the next four innings while holding Stanford scoreless. Although Stanford loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, only one run made it in after Utah brought in closer Dylan Drachler to get the final three outs.

Five pitchers took the mound for the Cardinal, allowing 11 hits and nine walks with just one strikeout. Junior Tyler Thorne took the loss after facing 14 batters in 2.1 innings in relief.

Up next, Stanford will play host to UC Davis on Tuesday, first finishing a suspended game from March 21 and then playing the scheduled matchup at 5:30 p.m.

 

Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Olivia Hummer '17 is a managing editor of The Daily's sports section and writes about volleyball, football and baseball. When she's not filling in as an emergency copy editor, she can be found curled up in a ball bemoaning the misfortunes of her beloved Seattle Mariners or cursing the misuse of the Stanford Athletics logo. Olivia is a senior majoring in history from Covina, California, and can be reached at ohummer 'at' stanford.edu.