By Jose Saldana
Valentine’s Day has come and pass, so that could only mean one thing: Baseball on the Farm is back! But this time, there won’t be a familiar face in the dugout.
Head coach Mark Marquess (Nine) retired at the end of the last season after 41 years of coaching the Cardinal. His contributions were immeasurable for Stanford, including back-to-back national titles in 1987 and 1988.
How do you replace a legend? You don’t, but you can always look to take from your rivals.
Cal head coach and a shortstop on Stanford’s ‘87 title team, David Esquer became the new lead of Stanford baseball.
With Esquer in tow and the return of pitching phenom junior Tristan Beck, it should be an exciting season for the Cardinal.
No. 13 Stanford baseball (0-0) opens the doors of Sunken Diamond for the first time this year when No. 17 Cal State Fullerton (0-0) comes to town on Friday night in a three-game series.
Beck will be the Opening Day Starter on Friday. He will make his season debut after missing all of last season due to a stress fracture in his back. His freshman season was impressive as he earned All-Pac-12 First Team and led the team in ERA (2.48).
Junior Kris Bubic led the team in ERA (2.79) last season and really was quality all of 2017. He finished the season with no earned runs in his last 16 innings. He will pitch on Saturday.
Then in the final game on Sunday, sophomore Erik Miller will start after a successful freshman season. According to Coach Esquer, Miller “may have the most raw talent of all three of [the starting pitchers],” which is really saying something given the talent of Beck and Bubic.
The Cardinal are facing a familiar foe in Cal State Fullerton. They have opened against each other in the past two seasons, splitting series victories.
The returning players may have additional motivation for this game as the Titans knocked the Cardinal out of the NCAA Regional last season in Sunken Diamond.
“Especially this weekend against Cal State Fullerton and with what happened last year, everyone’s going to be playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” senior catcher Bryce Carter said. “The returning guys definitely want this one back.”
Ranked in No. 17 on D1Baseball, the Titans always have quality teams, which should make the opening series exciting.
“[The Titans] are just a good baseball team,” Coach Esquer said. “They can pitch. They are known for their ability to play the game.”
“They are always tough for us to beat.”
The Cardinal’s opening series against Cal State Fullerton begins Friday at 6:05 p.m., then on Saturday at 1:05 p.m and ends on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Klein Field on Sunken Diamond. All three games will be broadcast by Stanford Live Stream.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.