By Jose Saldana
After a grueling series against No. 2 Oregon State, No. 3 Stanford baseball (40-8, 18-6 Pac-12) will be back in the homely confines of Sunken Diamond this weekend when Washington State (15-28-1, 7-16-1) comes to the Farm for a three-game series.
This is the final home series in the regular season for the Cardinal.
The Cardinal lost their second series of the season after they dropped the first two games to the Beavers, losing 2-6 and 0-10. A late inning comeback in the final game of the series helped Stanford avoid the sweep.
After winning its final midweek game against BYU this past Tuesday, the Cardinal have finished their second consecutive year without a midweek loss. They also hit the 40th win mark of the season in 48 games, which is the fastest since the 1990 season.
Sophomore outfielder Kyle Stowers led the Cardinal offense on Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Stowers is now batting .310, which is the highest it has been since the opening series of the year.
Washington State is coming into this weekend series losing eight of its past 11 games and has the second-worst conference record behind Utah. The Cougars haven’t won a series since sweeping Santa Clara back on April 22.
The Cougars offense is led by senior outfielder Blake Canton who slashes a line of .328/.628/.405 with nine home runs and 28 RBI.
Canton and junior outfielder Justin Harrer have combined for 19 of the 32 home runs that Washington State has knocked out.
The Cougars offense ranks second-to-last in the Pac-12 in batting average (.250), eighth in slugging (.373) and last in runs scored (18), hits (371) and RBI (167). Facing the Washington State lineup might end up being a panacea for a Cardinal pitching staff that had been dominated by the Beavers bats.
Stanford’s team ERA of 2.75 still ranks first in the Pac-12 and third in the NCAA even after allowing Oregon State to score 22 runs in three games.
Junior pitcher Tristan Beck, who started on Friday, had a gritty performance despite giving up four earned runs (six total) by pitching 7.0 innings and striking out five batters. Beck should have a much better mound experience against the Cougars batting order.
The offense, which didn’t show much in the first two games of the last series, won’t have to deal with the hard-throwing pitchers they faced last weekend. Washington State’s pitching staff ranks second-to-last in ERA (5.39).
Stanford holds an all-time record of 52-24 against Washington State, including sweeping the Cougars last season.
The three-game series begins on Friday at 6 p.m. PT and every game will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.