By Jose Saldana
After losing its first series of the year to UCLA, No. 2 Stanford baseball (27-5, 9-3 Pac-12) bounced back with a clean sweep of Arizona State (14-22, 6-9) in a three-game series in Sunken Diamond.
The Cardinal were able to pull out the series primarily because of the deep depth the team still possesses, despite losing junior second baseman Duke Kinamon and junior right fielder Brandon Wulff to injury.
“We love the response coming back home this week and getting some quality wins against a solid Pac-12 team,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “The theme of guys stepping up on any given weekend continued with players like Alec Wilson, Christian Robinson and Matt Decker really coming up huge this weekend.”
The pitching staff got back on track, only yielding 10 runs in three games. Junior right-hander Tristan Beck went seven innings and struck out five in Friday’s game.
“Tristan found his groove a little bit,” Coach Esquer said of his ace. “His best days are still ahead of him.”
Sophomore closer Jack Little finally let in his first run of the season when he allowed an RBI double in the 8th inning of the first game. Despite running into his first real trouble of the season, Little got the six-out save for his 11th of the year, which ranks first in the Pac-12.
“You know it had to happen at some point,” Coach Esquer said of Little’s first run. “We’ve thrown Jack into a lot of different situations and tonight was another example of what a great pitcher he is.”
The offense got it done in different ways during the series. It flashed the power that has been present all season as sophomore first baseman Andrew Daschbach hit two home runs in the series, including a massive grand slam on Saturday.
Daschbach is tied for third in home runs (10) and is fourth in RBI (39) within the Pac-12.
Fellow sophomore right fielder Kyle Stowers also homered, increasing his tally to seven on the season.
The Cardinal also got contributions from the bottom of the lineup. Alec Wilson, Bryce Carter, Matthew Decker and Christian Robinson were all batting 7-8-9 at some point in the series and they all delivered key hits.
In the second game, Wilson hit 2-2 for a triple, three RBIs and two runs. In the final game, Robinson, a freshman playing center field, was 2-3 for two RBIs and two runs scored. Decker also scored two runs.
In the Friday game, the Cardinal did just enough on offense to support the pitching staff, scoring three runs, but leaving eight on base. Beck had to pitch around trouble in four out of his seven innings as he gave up singles and walks in those innings. However, the talented righty did just enough to get off the hook.
Stowers got the Cardinal on the board in the 2nd, when he pulled a solo home run over the right field wall. An inning later, junior shortstop Nico Hoerner tripled to right field to score freshman Tim Tawa.
Senior second baseman Beau Branton would score the final run of the game for the Cardinal on a wild pitch.
Little took over for Beck to start the 8th and ran into trouble right away. He gave up back-to-back singles then struck out the next batter, but he allowed a RBI double to yield his first run of the season.
Little limited the damage to the one run and then had 1-2-3 inning in the 9th to get the win and the save.
In the second game, the Cardinal were being no-hit through five innings but two runs in the 6th and a nine-run 8th inning gave Stanford a comfortable 11-6 victory.
“I think that’s a sign we’ve matured,” Daschbach said. “A good all-around team is if they can’t get something going for six or seven innings even and are able to grind something out late. That was a big sign for us.”
Junior left-handed pitcher Kris Bubic started, and for the second series in the row he didn’t have his best stuff, but he was still able to eat up seven innings.
Bubic allowed a home run to Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson, who was the second batter of the game. After that, Bubic settled down and pounded the zone. His command began to falter in the 4th when he allowed a two-run double to increase the Sun Devils’ lead to 3-0.
The Cardinal offense finally woke up in the 6th on Carter’s double, which was the first hit of the game. Wilson would triple to score Carter and would then score on a groundout by Branton.
Bubic had a clean 7th and went on for the 8th, but was pulled after giving up a second home run to Torkelson.
Bubic finished with seven innings, four earned runs, seven strikeouts and eight hits allowed.
He was replaced by sophomore Daniel Bakst, who got an inning before being relieved by sophomore Will Matthiessen.
The Cardinal exploded in the 8th and completed their comeback, scoring nine runs, highlighted by Daschbach’s grand slam. It was the Cardinal’s second grand slam of the season (Wulff had the first).
The Sun Devils had one final push when they hit a two-run home run in the 9th, but freshman Austin Weiermiller was able to close out the game.
The final game saw a great deal of complete effort from the Cardinal. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Erik Miller had a quality start with five innings, two earned runs and three strikeouts in the 10-3 victory. The five innings were the most pitched by Miller since he pitched five against USC on March 25.
Freshman southpaw Jacob Palisch would relieve Miller, and Palisch was stretched out to four innings to finish the game.
The offense was balanced, scoring at least two runs in an inning four times. In the 3rd and 4th, the Cardinal jumped on the Sun Devils’ pitching, scoring six runs including a two-run home run by Daschbach. Then, in the 6th and 7th, Stanford scored four more runs as Robinson’s and Decker’s names began highlighting the boxscore.
“As a guy who doesn’t get many at-bats, I knew they were going to attack me with fastballs,” Decker said. “I have been here for five years and when I’m up there, I’ve been nervous. I was really calm, and when I saw a fast ball, I just tried to swing at it.”
With no midweek exhibition, the Cardinal can rest before travelling to Tucson to play Arizona in a three-game series beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. PT. Every game in the series will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana “at” stanford.edu