Behind a multi-hit effort from three Cardinal hitters, including a 4-for-4, three-RBI performance from senior second baseman Beau Branton, No. 3 Stanford (41-8, 19-6-0 Pac-12) dominated in Game 1 of its final home series of the regular season, earning a 10-1 win against Washington State (15-29-1, 7-17-1) Friday night at Sunken Diamond.
The win maintained Stanford’s 1.5-game conference lead over No. 2 Oregon State; the Cardinal can clinch the conference title if they win four of their remaining five conference games.
Beyond the game itself, the game was memorable for the fireworks show at the end of the night and a ridiculous barehanded catch by sophomore first baseman Andrew Daschbach, who lost his glove when the Washington State batter ran into him on his way to first.
T4 | ARE YOU SERIOUS, ANDREW DASCHBACH?!
— Stanford Baseball (@StanfordBSB) May 19, 2018
Seven of the Cardinal’s 10 runs came from Branton, junior Christian Molfetta, who has filled in for an injured Maverick Handley at catcher since the Oregon State series, and freshman Christian Robinson, who was recently took over the starting job at center field.
Branton continues to impress this season, leading the team with a .383 batting average. He has been particularly strong as of late, going 18-for-38 (.474) over his last nine games, dating back to May 4 vs. Utah, with five multi-hit games over that span.
In a standout performance, Molfetta went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while tying his career-high with three hits.
“After my first at bat, my timing was a little bit off, so going into the rest of the game, the one thing I wanted to do was be on time,” Molfetta said. “I knew that if I was on time and got a pitch to hit, I’d be able to put a good swing on it.”
Robinson also collected two hits, including a double, and an RBI of his own.
Eight Cardinal combined to record 14 hits against the the second-to-worst pitching staff in the conference (the Cougars’ team ERA was 5.39 coming into the series).
Junior starter Tristan Beck (8-3) gave up five hits, three walks and struck out four batters, but allowed just one earned run in 6.0 innings pitched. His ERA improved from 2.92 to 2.79 after the win.
“He’s the kind of pitcher, whether he starts off hot or he starts off slow, either way he’s going to find a groove,” Molfetta said of Beck. “He did a really good job of finding that groove early and getting right back on the mound — if he missed a pitch, he’s going to get right back up there and throw the next one. He did a really good job of bouncing back.”
After Beck’s departure, the Cardinal bullpen shut down the Cougars, allowing just three hits in the final 3.0 innings and issuing two walks, both in the ninth.
Washington State’s starter Hayden Rosenkrantz retired eight of the Cardinal’s first nine batters before Branton got Stanford’s first hit in the bottom of the third, setting him up to score on freshman third baseman Tim Tawa’s triple.
Stanford’s rout picked up steam in the fifth when junior Nico Hoerner doubled down the left field line with the bases loaded, driving in two runs. Daschbach’s sacrifice fly then brought home Tawa to put Stanford up, 4-1.
The Cardinal would ultimately score three runs in each of back-to-back-to-back innings.
In the sixth, Molfetta’s single to left drove in the other Christian (Robinson), who had reached second on some aggressive baserunning. Junior right fielder Alec Wilson bunted, putting two on base for Branton to bring in with a double down the left field line, extending the Cardinal’s lead to six.
In the next inning, Daschbach advanced to third on a throwing error and wild pitch, and a series of hits by Robinson, Molfetta and Branton drove in three more runs with two outs.
First pitch for the second game in the series will be at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Junior southpaw Kris Bubic (7-1, 2.77) will take the mound for Stanford, and Scotty Sunitsch (6-2, 2.95) will do so for the Cougars as they look to even the series.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.