You couldn’t script a better ending.
On Sunday afternoon, in the final regular season home game of head coach Mark Marquess’s career, No. 9 Stanford baseball (37-14, 18-9 Pac-12) completed a sweep of Washington (26-25, 12-15) with a walk-off win in extra innings. The Cardinal rallied late to erase a five-run deficit while senior right-hander Tyler Thorne held the Huskies scoreless through five innings of relief on Senior Day.
Washington walked senior Jack Klein with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to get to junior Jesse Kuet, who played the hero, stroking a single just past the glove of the diving second baseman to send sophomore pinch runner Christian Molfetta home and win the game.
“In the last week, I’ve been getting more at-bats, so that definitely helped,” said Kuet of his recent offensive uptick since taking over for the injured Mikey Diekroeger. “I’m seeing the ball a lot better, feeling more comfortable with myself at the plate.”
Momentum was not in Stanford’s favor at the start of the game. Senior Chris Castellanos struggled early on the mound and by the third inning the Huskies had claimed a threatening 5-0 lead. However, Castellanos settled into a rhythm on the mound, and this resilient Cardinal squad battled back with two runs in the fourth inning and three in the fifth to tie the score at five apiece.
Freshman designated hitter Daniel Bakst was instrumental to Stanford’s comeback. After sophomore Nico Hoerner led off the fourth with a single, Bakst supplied an RBI double to put the Cardinal on the board. Sophomore Duke Kinamon singled to score Bakst. In the fifth inning, a Hoerner single plated a run, and with two outs, Bakst produced a two-run double to tie the score.
“We’ve been behind a lot, but we got a couple of big hits, a couple of big innings and did a good job,” Marquess said. “It was a great win for us.”
For the next four innings, both teams were held scoreless to send the game to extras. Thorne sat down the Husky side in order in the top of the 10th to set the stage for Kuet’s heroics.
“As long as that game was tied and I didn’t screw it up, I was going to stay in there,” said Thorne of his long relief outing.
The Cardinal began their winning weekend with a come-from-behind 8-4 victory on Friday night. Junior Matt Winaker provided the pop on Fireworks Night as he kickstarted a five-run seventh-inning rally with a two-run homer to give Stanford the lead. The Cardinal then loaded the bases for sophomore Brandon Wulff, who delivered a two-out, two-run single to put Stanford up 7-4.
“It was a really good approach from our offense,” Winaker said. “First time through the order, we struggled a little bit, but we made our adjustments and went to work.”
Sophomore Kris Bubic secured his fifth win of the season, striking out six batters in 7.0 innings while giving up just two earned runs on three hits. Miscues plagued the Cardinal in early innings, as Washington was able to capitalize on Stanford errors and wild pitches.
“They didn’t get many hits, but we gave them a lot of opportunities,” Marquess said.
Stanford started slowly again on Saturday before a third-inning rally gave the Cardinal the lead for good. A double by Hoerner, who went 3-for-4 on the day, plated Kuet to put Stanford on the board. A walk, a single and a sacrifice fly later and Stanford had claimed a 3-2 advantage.
In the sixth inning, Winaker came to the plate with a 4-2 lead and a man on base. It was a case of deja vu for Stanford fans as the first baseman launched a two-run shot over the right field fence for the second straight day.
After Washington tacked on another two runs in the top of the seventh, junior closer Colton Hock took the mound with one out and a man on base. He needed just five pitches to retire the next two batters and would go on to complete an eight-out save on the way to Stanford’s 7-5 win.
With its fifth-straight series win in the bag, all the Cardinal needed on Sunday was a proper sendoff for Marquess, affectionately known by his jersey number, nine. After the emotional win, Marquess’s number was retired in a postgame ceremony and he was presented with a framed jersey by his wife, mother and daughters.
“I figured [his number] would be retired. I’m sure there will be a statue out here before too long,” Thorne joked after the game.
Stanford embarks on its final road trip of the season as it heads up to Washington State from Friday to Sunday.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.