By Jose Saldana
Stanford head coach David Esquer said that good teams win at home, but great teams win on the road before his team’s first road trip of the season to Austin, Texas.
Well, it looks like the Cardinal have the makings of a great team.
No. 7 Stanford baseball (14-2) earned a significant series victory against a top-25 ball club in No. 23 Texas (9-7) in four games on the road.
After losing the first game 8-6, the Cardinal dominated the Longhorns in both offense and pitching, outscoring Texas 27-5.
“You don’t typically go on the road and expect to have the results we had here, so all the credit goes to our players who hung in there after a tough beginning to the series,” Esquer said. “Once we got our feet on the ground, we played like ourselves and I was really proud of our guys for responding the way they did.”
Several Stanford batters were in the zone throughout the series, most notably junior shortstop Nico Hoerner and sophomore first baseman Andrew Daschbach.
Hoerner had a bad stretch in his last series against Michigan, as he went 0-for-12 in three games, dropping his batting average from .379 to .268. Against the Longhorns, Hoerner batted 8-for-19, scored seven runs, had four RBIs and hit his second home run of the season.
Daschbach was 5-for-11 and smashed an impressive home run against the wind. His seven RBIs in the series gave him 17 for the season, giving him the team RBI lead over freshman center fielder Tim Tawa.
Daschbach now leads the team in batting average (.320), RBIs, home runs (4), total bases (33), slugging (.660) and on-base percentage (.444).
Tawa and sophomore left fielder Kyle Stowers were consistent contributors as well. After moving to leadoff in the final game of the Michigan series, Tawa has continued to thrive despite switching positions on the field (third base and center field) and in the lineup.
He collected six hits, six runs and two RBIs.
Stowers batted 5-for-13 with five RBIs and a three-run home run over the right field wall in Game 3.
The pitching was equally as productive. Junior left-handed pitcher Kris Bubic got the win in Game 2 after giving up one run in six innings and struck out nine batters. He leads the team in innings pitched (23.1) and strikeouts (27) and sports an ERA of 1.54.
However, the most impressive start by a pitcher in the series was by a Beck. Not junior Tristan Beck, but his younger brother, freshman Brendan Beck.
Beck allowed one run and struck out five in six innings to earn a victory.
“Brendan was excellent today,” Esquer said. “You don’t see freshmen go on the road in a tough environment and show that kind of composure very often.”
The bullpen arms were stellar once again, as they gave up four runs all series — all in the first game. They ended the series on a run of 11.1 innings without giving up a run.
Freshman lefty Jacob Palisch made three appearances and pitched 2.2 innings of shutout ball. Sophomore closer Jack Little only had to make his presence known in Game 3, in which he had a nine-out save for his sixth save of the season.
Game 1 of the series featured Tristan Beck on the mound to start, who won his second Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award for his performance last week. Beck didn’t have his greatest start, as the Texas batters jumped on him early and got four runs off Beck in four innings.
Beck was replaced by senior John Henry Styles with Stanford down 4-0. He would have been tagged with the loss, but the Cardinal offense managed to tie the game at 5-5 due to sophomore catcher Maverick Handley’s two-run home run and Stowers’ two-RBI single.
The Cardinal comeback was short-lived, as the Longhorns added three more runs in the seventh. Stanford had one last gasp with a run in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough as Stanford lost 8-6.
Bubic took the mound for Game 2 and shut down the Texas bats, but he got plenty of fireworks from the offense at the start. Hoerner hit a solo shot over the left-field wall in the first and junior right fielder Brandon Wulff followed suit by hitting a three-run home run over the same wall in the fifth to give Stanford a 5-0 lead.
The Longhorns managed to squeeze a run out of Bubic in the bottom of the seventh, but that was all they could muster once the bullpen arms took over. Palisch and sophomore Zach Grech combined to pitch three innings.
Stanford added a few more insurance runs in the eighth en route to a 7-1 final tally.
Sophomore pitcher Erik Miller got the nod for Game 3, and similarly to Bubic, Miller had great run support from the offense. The Cardinal scored five runs in the first two innings on three singles and a double.
At first, Miller was on a torrid pace. He struck out four batters and faced the minimum through three innings. However, the fourth was a different story, as he gave up a three-run home run and was pulled after two outs for freshman Austin Weiermiller.
Only leading 5-3 in the top of the ninth, the Cardinal bats came back to life to score four in the frame, capped off by Stowers’ three-run home run.
Little had come on in relief in the seventh and got the nine-out save to defeat Texas 9-3.
Game 4 was more of the same, as Brendan Beck took a perfect game into the sixth before giving up a single up the middle.
By the time Beck was relieved by Palisch, the Cardinal held a 10-0 lead. Much of that offense came in the sixth, where Stanford scored six runs.
Daschbach, though in the first, hit a three-run home run against the wind, and the only thing the Longhorn Network color analyst could say was, “Wow!”
The Longhorns got a run in the seventh, but that was the only offense they could generate. The Cardinal, on the other hand, added another run in the ninth for good measure to accrue their largest margin of victory this season at 11-1.
The series win pushed the Cardinal up in the rankings from No. 7 to No. 3 on D1Baseball.
Stanford will have break for finals before conference play begins. USC (9-4) will come to Sunken Diamond for a three-game series beginning on March 23 at 6:05 p.m. All games in the series can be seen on the Stanford Live Stream.
“I think we’re maturing a little bit and starting to move the needle more, offensively,” Esquer reflected. “Stanford baseball has always been about pitching and defense, though, and you saw that on display here as well this week.”
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.